It may be January 2nd, but it’s still 2012, so technically I haven’t missed ringing in the New Year. I did miss wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, but I’m glad to say that’s because I stayed (mostly) offline for the holiday.
And what’s a story fan to do with all that downtime? I haunted movie theaters, of course. Over the three-day Christmas break, I took in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; War Horse; and Arthur Christmas.
After resting up for a week, I spent New Year’s Day trying to keep up with Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. Is it wrong that I’ve never seen the first three MI installments? Perhaps not, since Mission Impossible 4 exhibited a quirk that was both maddening and endearing – and for all I know, it’s a franchise trademark.
The quirk is – get ready for it – explanation. Not exposition (although there was enough of that to bring me up to speed.) I definitely caught whiffs of explanation. As in action – reaction – explanation of why that particular form of reaction was chosen. Really.
The funny thing is, I began to form a love-hate response to the explanation. I loved it because I find that most movies assume a lot, like Yeeeeah, everybody’s read the entire Harry Potter series, so you’re all caught up on the werewolf hooking up with the pink-haired punk witch. No need to discuss it. Or what exactly the Cruciatus curse consists of. [These are screenwriters, folks – they always end a sentence with a preposition.]
Now, I like a little explanation since most action movies leave me wondering what’s happening and why. Directors Addicted to Quick Cuts: I blame you. Worse, the dialogue is often muted or difficult to discern over background noise (okay, that’s just me getting old), so I have little guess as to the characters’ motivation. (Funny enough, I don’t recall those usual complaints being at issue with The Tomster’s flick.)
WARNING: Spoiler Ahead
Problem was, the explanation in MI4 was a tad insulting. Or at least cheap. And clumsy. More suited to television, actually, which is whence Mission Impossible sprang. Did I really need one character asking another why he sent a body adrift with a flare? Clearly it was to draw gunfire. We saw that. Jeremy Renner saw that. So why did he ask Tom Cruise what was up? [Answer: Because it was in the script. And my boy Jere-Jere was gettin’ paaaaiiiid!]
So what is it I want from an action flick? Here it is:
Action, mayhem, quick cuts
What an exciting fight that was!
ANYONE IN HOLLYWOOD OTHER THAN TOM CRUISE
Boy, I’ll say! Thank you for letting me be in your movie, Mr. Cruise!
You’re welcome, Aihottc. Do you or the audience have any questions
about what just transpired?
(raises hand like Horshak in “Welcome Back, Kotter”)
Oo oo ooo! I do!
Who were we just fighting?
The bad guys. You can tell, because they’re all far less attractive than me.
And you, of course. But not by much.
But everything happened so fast and there were so many quick cuts, I could barely tell who was who. Are you sure we got the right guys?
(crinkles that space between his eyebrows and nose)
Trust me. I have a method.
Really? What is it?
I just kill ’em all and let Payroll sort it out.
GIRL IN THEATER WHO THINKS SHE’S IN HER LIVING ROOM
Suri Cruise is the Second Coming of L. Ron Hubbard. You just wait and see.