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From Under A Rock: Mission: Impossible

August 6, 2015 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
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From Under A Rock: Mission: Impossible  

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There’s a first time for everything in a person’s life. Like this column! It’s a first edition. What about the first time you tried pepperoni on a pizza? The first time you watched the series finale of Breaking Bad? First love? First time sleeping a full 8 hours (a man can dream, can’t he)?

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie (determined at the discretion of my writing partner, Aaron Hubbard and I in alternation). This column is a companion piece to my podcast of the same premise (although formatted differently, and injected with much more levity), which you can check out here.

So I, Michael Ornelas, an adult male soon to be aged 27, managed to live through the ‘90s (the 1990s, in case you weren’t sure) without seeing:


Mission: Impossible

…and now Aaron has provided me the opportunity to be taken out from the proverbial rock under which I was living.

 

Aaron Hubbard: I chose Mission: Impossible for Michael this week because he needs to see Rogue Nation before it gets out of theaters. And you can’t watch the new Mission: Impossible films without seeing the first at least once. More importantly, the movie is what jump-started Tom Cruise’s career as an action star. Given the fact that this guy walked on the side of the tallest building in the world without any stuntmen or CGI (other than removing a harness) I think we should all be grateful for that.

Michael Ornelas: I understand why this is considered a classic after watching it. I understand how it spawned an incredibly successful franchise after watching it. Seriously, there’s tons of appeal. But…

…that doesn’t necessarily mean it was good.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it, and it wasn’t bad. But I expected it to be much more sound. The plot was alright, but could have been simplified while getting the same effect. The double crosses were predictable, and I feel like a lot of the technological ideas are very dated (because they are. That’s not the movie’s fault). Conversely though, the wire scene is one of the coolest and most suspenseful scenes ever, and for that alone, I’m glad I watched this.

Aaron Hubbard: I think Michael’s reaction is spot on. To be fair, in regards to dated technology, I think almost all spy movies suffer from that problem. James Bond anyone? But I think the biggest obstacle for this movie is the confusing narrative and unclear motives. Did you find the movie difficult (dare I say… “impossible”) to follow at times, and did that affect your enjoyment?

Michael Ornelas: First off, that pun was a 4/10 at best. But yes, motives were understated, and are arguably the most important part of a movie with a villain (or villains). I don’t care if a movie feels heavy-handed in revealing character motive because it’s such a big factor in understanding what exactly is going on. Mission: Impossible failed to deliver in that regard and it did hurt my enjoyment of it. I was pretty much just trying to hang on in between the action scenes (which, except for the crap with the helicopter, were excellent).

But seriously, a helicopter flying through a tunnel fit for a train without hitting the sides WHILE BEING MANNED BY A GUY WHO COULDN’T EVEN HOLD A ROPE FOR A FEW MINUTES?! I’m a wrestling fan, so I know all about the suspension of disbelief, but Léon The Professional being a great pilot in that scene is not something I could get behind.

Aaron Hubbard: Would you say the movie spun out of control at that point?

ROFLcopter

Michael Ornelas: Please stop. People can see this.

Aaron Hubbard: I make no promises.

So, while this movie fell a bit flat for you, there are now four other Mission films, each with a different director. This is done intentionally by Tom Cruise so there is always a fresh perspective on the material. Would you be open to viewing other films in the franchise?

Michael Ornelas: If you pick them for me, I guess I have to…

…but yes I’m open to it. I have more personally interesting things to get through first, but I could see myself going down this rabbit hole if there’s a promise of better movies within the franchise. That said, I’m not too big on Tom Cruise (a case of the artist’s personal life causing a personal distaste for their art, not unlike Kanye West and Tom Hanks* for me), so I’m not incredibly compelled to seek out his movies.

*No one can be that nice and not be hiding something. I’ve got my eye on you Tom…watch your ass.

Aaron Hubbard: …that got strange. Um, let me try to remember what I was trying to say… Well, you already answered what I was going to ask (your opinion on Tom Cruise). So let’s talk about my favorite character in this movie. Vic Grimes. I swear he is the least stereotypical “hacker” character I have seen in a film. Did he make any impression on you?

Michael Ornelas: So Vic Grimes is this guy:

He was a wrestler for Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Aaron Hubbard: Oh. Odd that I remember that. I guess all my mid-nineties nostalgia is getting extremely mixed up!

Michael Ornelas: It’s like you almost want us to stop after only one column…but I guess I can’t be too upset. You did say “no promises.” Anyways. You’re thinking of Ving Rhames, the actor who played the character Luther Stickell. And yes. Luther was pretty great. Rhames is awesome in his own right (he’s one of the better characters in Pulp Fiction, and that’s a movie with almost too many great characters). But about Stickell. Not only is he not a stereotype of a hacker, but he’s also not a stereotype of a black guy, and for a movie with a white director that came out in 1996, that’s pretty spectacular and respectable. That said, I also really liked the original hacker that died in the first twenty minutes, brutally in the elevator shaft as his head got impaled, eye-first. For a character that was to be killed off rather quickly, they did a good job of making him seem important enough to not die so quickly.

Aaron Hubbard: Ah the days when Emilio Estevez was cool and PG-13 movies could have graphic death scenes. Good times.

Michael Ornelas: Emilio Estevez never stopped being cool, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. But how about we rate this sucker?

Mission: Impossible, to me, was just okay. There was “excellent” (the wire scene), and there was “dismal” (Helicopter Operation. “Don’t touch the sides!”). Motives were sloppily revealed, and the plot was bumpy, but the performances were pretty solid. So with all that back and forth, I’m going to give this a perfectly average rating; a

C

Aaron Hubbard: I like the movie slightly more than Michael, but I can admit this was a messy first outing. Kind of like Freshman year where you think you are cool and then realize how lame you are. Then you grow up and get smarter and more daring and make Ghost Protocol. I am going to give this a

B-

Michael Ornelas: Be honest; you’re still in the “Freshman Year” stage of your life, aren’t you?

Aaron Hubbard: Just like Emilio Estevez’s career.

Michael Ornelas: Nailed it. And with that, Mission: Impossible averages a C+, and that will do it for this week’s edition of From Under A Rock.

Michael Ornelas: Join us next week, as I have chosen They Live as the movie Aaron hasn’t seen yet that we will watch in honor of the late, and truly great, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Rest in peace, Hot Rod. I’ll never forget the time you walked into the same hotel lobby as me, and you were a total sweetheart.

Aaron Hubbard: I’ve been told this has the best fight scene in cinematic history. And with The Rowdy One involved, I have no problems believing it.

Michael Ornelas: It’s…a spectacle.

Aaron Hubbard: Like Piper himself. God speed, Roddy.

 

On this week’s edition of the “From Under A Rock” podcast, martial artist Emily Rose Morrison (a.k.a. musical sensation Emii) sits the fellas down and has them watch Kill Bill: Volume 2.

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And if you want to read Aaron’s thoughts on movies, professional wrestling and comic books, check out The Shelf is Half Full.

6.6
The final score: review Average
The 411
Michael rates Mission: Impossible a C, while Aaron went with a B-, so our final rating is the numerical equivalent of a C+. Its poorly-defined characters married with well-performing actors to get a truly middle-of-the road start to a juggernaut of a franchise, and a big part of why Tom Cruise is still one of Hollywood’s top stars today. It has some of the best suspense with the famed wire scene, and some truly bad (and horribly CGI-rendered) action at the end.
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