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Drive In Saturday Tuesday Movie Review: Mission Impossible 7

OK, this one has absolutely nothing to do with David Bowie. We did see Mission Impossible 7: Dead Reckoning, Pt. 1 on a Saturday night, so there’s that. Its also the first drive in movie night of season that had no Bowie connection, so in a negative sense, there’s that (the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 spaceship was a called The Bowie, while Indiana Jones had “Space Oddity” in its soundtrack).

So how was the movie? Well, as a string of spectacular stunts and fight sequences, it delivered. Not boring. As drive in movies go, that’s the bar. It met the bar. So, good.

But that’s it. Mission Impossible 7 is another Tom Cruise vehicle. It’s getting hard to even think of Cruise sharing top billing with another actor. Except for the opening sequence, the camera is almost always on its star. I guess that’s what we should expect, and again, that’s OK, it just doesn’t make for a lot of variety or unsuspected moments.

Actually, this was one of the more derivative movies I’ve seen in a while, which is saying something (the other three movies I saw at the drive in this year were all sequels). The Mission Impossible movies blend together in my mind. This is in part due to the focus on Cruise— Bond movies are often distinguished by their villains. The Mission Impossible villains are often faceless. In this one, that was literally the case in more ways than one. The now-tired way had to do with the repeated use of masks that are so realistic that the good guys can go into meetings disguised as the bad guys and nobody notices. So, in that sense, the bad guys are faceless.

But the main bad guy in this movie is a sentient artificial intelligence (again, no face), which, on the one hand is timely, but on the other hand made it hard not to think of the Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.

Perhaps to distract from the similarity to that movie, there are multiple, conspicuous homages paid to Bond. Tom Cruise parachutes off a mountain, like Bond did in The Spy Who Loves Me. He gets into a car chase in Europe while driving a comically small, yellow car like Bond did in For Your Eyes Only. There’s an Orient Express sequence, like there was in From Russia with Love, which turns into a fight on the roof of the speeding train like there was in Skyfall. He boats into Venice, like Bond did in Casino Royale. Actually, Bond movies already borrowed from Bond movies with similar sequences to all of these things in other Bond movies (well, except for the parachuting off the mountain. Bond jumps off a lot of other things but that stunt stood apart, until Mission Impossible 7).

For me, the nods to Bond were too obvious to pass off as the one series ripping off the other. I’m not exactly sure what the point was, but I am pretty sure that the audience was supposed to recognize the Bond parallels.

Another parallel was with the last drive in movie I saw— Indian Jones and the Dial of Destiny. That one features the 80-year old Harrison Ford playing a similarly old Indiana Jones. His age, aging and the passage of time were all important to the plot. Yes, Ford was de-aged for a sequence, but most of the movie took place while the actor and character were old. Not so much Tom Cruise. While Cruise is 19 years younger than Ford, he’s now jumping off mountains at the age of 61 (ok, maybe he was 60 during the filming). Roger Moore looked old at age 57 in his last Bond movie, the terrible A View to a Kill. Daniel Craig looked worn at age 53 in No Time to Die, but his aging had been a plot point since Skyfall, when he was only 44.

There was no hint that Cruise, or more precisely his character, Ethan Hunt, was any particular age at all. Unlike Ford’s CGI de-aging, Cruise apparently has used more surgical means to look younger than he actually is. Sadly, the CGI works better. At least last year’s Cruise vehicle, the Top Gun sequel acknowledged that his character got older, but not this one (which, as the “part 1” in its name implies, is in no way the last Mission Impossible).

None of this ruins the movie. The movie is what it is. Tom Cruise is kind of the McDonald’s of summer movies— you get exactly what you expect, and if you know what you want, you won’t be disappointed. You won’t be pleasantly surprised either, but you get what you think you’r going to get.

It will probably be a while before I watch Mission Impossible 7 for a second time— some time in the future, when it’s on Netflix and I can’t remember anything distinctive about it. But will I see Part 2 at the drive in next year? Absolutely. And I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll get when I do.

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