Mission Impossible 3

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ving Rhames, Tom Cruise and Maggie Q – the Mission Impossible team

 

 

Remember the tagline for True Lies, the Arnie Schwarzenegger actioner in which he plays a secret agent whose wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) is unaware of his job – “When he said I do, he never said what he did”? Pretty much the same thing is going in M:I3, with impossibly happy semi-retired agent Tom Cruise unable to tell his fiancée (Michelle Monaghan) that he’s off on a perilous secret mission. In something of a departure from the previous two films, Tom does actually have more of a Mission Impossible team with him this time – Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q. This is all much more in keeping with the TV original, which focused on the intricately choreographed activities of the Mission Impossible team rather than the stuntorama of an individual. Also from TV is the director, Lost’s JJ Abrams who keeps the action boiling and gives us choppers and latex masks (where would M:I be without them?), international locations, gunplay and exploding vehicles, but seems incapable of injecting any flavour. Possibly that’s because he’s saddled with a plot that is flimsy beyond belief, Abrams (ie his paymasters) seeming to think that action is all that’s necessary. Let’s not knock the action; it is very well handled, it’s just that we’re on the third film now and we need a bit more. More, for example, of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays Cruise’s dastardly nemesis this time out. Every time he sneers on to the screen, it’s as if someone turned all the dials on the M:I machine up a twist. Sadly, it doesn’t happen often enough.

© Steve Morrissey 2006

 

Mission: Impossible 3 – at Amazon

 

 

 

Velvet Goldmine

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Velvet Goldmine

 

 

 

 

In 1988 Todd Haynes made Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. In it he used Barbie and Ken dolls instead of actors to play out the tragic story of the singer with the golden voice whose anorexia eventually killed her off. Karen’s brother Richard Carpenter stamped it out of the record books, claiming Haynes didn’t have clearance to use the music. It has since resurfaced as an entry on imdb and pops up on youtube in various shitty resolutions.

Haynes is in pop-music territory again with Velvet Goldmine, moving Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers into 20th-century-boy poses in a story about a newspaper reporter (Christian Bale) in 1984 doing a story on the high point of glam rock more than ten years before. In particular he’s on the hunt, Citizen Kane-style, for its prettiest star, Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). As he digs, Bowie, Bolan, Bryan Ferry, Steve Harley, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed are all excavated from the mound of dicarded tinsel, though Haynes has learnt his lesson and no one is too identifiable – even though the film itself is named after a Bowie song recorded for the Ziggy Stardust sessions and left out of the finished album. It can’t be denied, the film does have its share of naffery, but then so did the 70s. It’s the good bits that make it worthwhile. They succeed in transporting the viewer to the “gorgeous, gorgeous time when we were all living our dreams” as one character puts it. The soundtrack is transportational too, reminding us of the project of so many 1970s glam acts to sound like camp extra-terrestrials – Ferry, Bowie, Eno, they were all at it. The film wasn’t exactly a smash hit on the big screen, probably because the death of dreams doesn’t make most people want to wet themselves with glee. It’s a film that tries hard, perhaps too hard. But at least it dares to try.

 

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

 

 

Velvet Goldmine – Buy the book (no film available) it at Amazon