Updated: Aug 24
I found this film disappointing. Granted, this may have just been my mindset while entering the film. My spirits have not been lifted recently. However, I believe this film has some massive flaws that prevent enjoyment generally and I would like to discuss them here.
A large issue I had is that this film is trapped within the conventions of the blockbuster. It does nothing to challenge these conventions. It does nothing really interesting at all. Characters appear and reappear with little meaning as the plot keeps pushing forward. There is some fan service throughout which doesn't strengthen the film. There is humor but it is American blockbuster humor. Light, sarcastic, nothing challenging, and often tone-breaking. Massive amounts of exposition for literally no reason. The plot of the film is rather simple, there is no need at all for the vast amount of talking done in this film. It destroys forward momentum that the plot may have and bores the audience. Due to the large amount of exposition this film may challenge for the title of fastest-paced film that is rather boring.
What truly disappointed me though was the lack of heart the film demonstrated. "Heart" is a shitty phrase, entirely subjective and sort of bad and inexact language. However, if ever there was a piece of fiction to hold that title I would nominate this film (or maybe some other films I have a vendetta against, but it doesn't serve my review to bring those up). This movie is really weird. We root for Ethan Hunt as an audience because he is Tom Cruise. There isn't really any characterization for the Ethan Hunt character anymore. He is Tom Cruise. And its interesting viewing the film through that lens, I'll discuss that later. The main crux of this heart complaint is that basically we don't care about these characters. This film lacks the little in between moments that the previous films had that allow us to see how these characters behave with one another when they aren't in incredibly high pressure situations. Would it have been nice to see these moments again? It really would have. Instead we are given more repetitive expository dialogue about The Entity and computer and Gabriel and blah blah blah. Boring! The worst offense is the death of a major character. This character dies and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is absolutely torn up. Literally in 23 seconds the movie and characters have moved on. The characters cannot behave outside of the realm of the plot. They are there to do cool stuff and they do and that is it. This issue is brought up again with how another major character is written. This character does nothing but betray and cause problems for the main IMF team (Tom Cruise production company). However, is the character ever challenged on these actions or is this behavior even discussed? No. Because the character has to join the main team later and the other guys can't be mad at the character because then the characters would have to express emotion and be real, messy people for a bit. The A.I. can't write that. Just really unfortunate because American blockbuster filmmaking had reached a high point this year (when it comes to writing) that it hadn't been at for a while. I thought American hero Tom Cruise was going to continue that run.
There is definitely some good stuff in this. Tom Cruise (American hero (Ethan Hunt)), Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames are all great in their roles. The last action sequence is really cool and genuinely exciting at points. It just sucks because you're so checked out by then that its hard to invest in these characters and their fate.
And its back to me bitching. I think a car chase sequence about halfway through exemplifies the issues I have with this movie. They filmed a ton of footage for this and you can tell it is a pretty impressive sequence. Despite this, it is mainly played for laughs. There is just car comedy throughout this pulse-pounding? sequence where Tom Hunt and the annoying character are being chased by literally everyone in Italy. Also, these characters chasing them. Wow are they weird. They populate this film sort of like lobotomy patients populated mental hospitals in the early 20th century. They're there, but are they? They are just absolute cliches of characters. There are 2 C.I.A. agents (who I wanted to be gay but probably aren't) who just follow Ethan Cruise throughout the movie and then just end up on his side. There is a lower-tier antagonist that literally only communicates in bellows and grunts and lunacy and then we are supposed to feel sad for her when she dies because she helps American hero Ethan at the end. Why are we supposed to feel sad? Convention. We have been trained to feel sad at sequences that look and sound like this so the audience should feel sad about this too. It is entirely unearned though and is vapid and soulless. It a little gross.
There are other things I don't like such as rapid cutting and an overuse of (hilarious) dutch angles. (It will literally be just shot/reverse shot in a dialogue sequence and then there will be a random-ass dutch angle its actually really funny) But those aren't massive complaints. This could be the ugliest film I've ever seen and I would probably enjoy it if it was written better and more humanity-esque.
The best way to enjoy this is through Tom Cruise allegory. I have to believe after watching this that Tom Cruise views himself as some sort of new God. He predicts how the next large-scale geopolitical conflict will begin and also there are other weird things in this movie that make it seem like they're just in there for Tom to flex his predictions of the future. You know when very successful people in one field believe they're incredible beings of some sort and start to throw out their predictions of the future and space travel and so on? (Mainly thinking about Poe's Eureka in that sentence) This feels like the Cruise version of that. I like thinking that this is about how Tom Cruise views the world. A.I. and technology is quite scary Tom and it is advancing rapidly. Maybe humanity is in trouble if this continues unchecked. Tom will stop technology. Tom Cruise vs. human progress. I agree with this sentiment of Tom's and I like the idea of the antagonist being an amorphous, rogue A.I. But very much like the villain of this film, the movie itself is soulless, troubling and will live or die depending on Tom Cruise.
(I wanted to make a scientology joke but didn't find room for it in the review. I was gonna be like the part where Tom Cruise looks at the camera and talks about the warrior-god Xenu for 4 minutes and 33 seconds was weird.)