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Mission Impossible III

Mission Impossible III has an impossible mission: To make us forget that Tom Cruise believes powerful space aliens are playing chess with our civilization.
I know that critics may disagree. They might say that Mission Impossible III is supposed to entertain and enthrall us. But I think this misses the larger point. Film is so powerful a medium that it can make us believe in wizards, warriors and, yes, space aliens, but can it make us forget?
Do we go blank looking at Woody Allen’s beady face? Can we see past Charlie Sheen’s apparent love of phone sex? Can loud noises, bright lights and a fast plot make us forget that Cruise is a nut job?
Films can mark actors and directors for life. A Passion of the Christ has the power to blind everyone to the fact that Mel Gibson has mostly starred in and produced intensely superficial and violent films, for example. But can Mission Impossible III save everyone’s favorite frat boy from a career nose dive?
The answer is no. A resounding rhetorical no.
To be fair Cruise has made it hard for a public that just wants to adore him. It would take a big Baptist revival of a film for folks to forget that Cruise believes his wacko religion has done away with the need for psychiatrists. And Mission Impossible III is so limp and forgettable that many will only remember a series of torture scenes.
This is no way to reassure people that you are not crazy, Tom.  I know it’s not your fault, but people expect the Mission Impossible franchise to contain several car chases, a hot PG-13 sex scene, and a bunch of cool GQ-style gizmos. Is this too much too ask, really? Do you think people are demanding too much when they expect so very little?
We don’t want – or need – you to play the middle-age card. I don’t want to get old, Tom, and seeing you get old on screen reminds me that I must not be the superhero I imagine myself to be, either. A bourgeois spy is an oxymoron, and only masochists yearn for another Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
I especially don’t want you to be given a wife just so Philip Seymour Hoffman can repeat, “Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? Whoever she is, I'm gonna find her. I'm gonna hurt her. And then I'm going to kill you right in front of her” over and over again.
(And while we’re at it, I can count to 10, so please – pretty please – stop with the countdowns. It feels suspiciously like some covert Sesame Street lesson.)
Torture is a drag, Tom. I want you to leap tall buildings without messing up your hair. I want to see you scale a building with a wristwatch grappling hook and race high-powered motorcycles, not spit out snot and blood. 
I don’t want you to be chained to a chair like some cheap real-life spy anymore than I want you as a middle aged nobody, picking up sanitary napkins on your way back from work. How do you expect us to forget that you’re crazy if you aren’t acting perfect?
So while we’re watching you NOT be the perfect somebody we want you to be, our minds unconsciously wander back to the fact that not only are you not perfect, but you’re utterly insane. You believe in a mythology that closely resembles bad DC comic books, the sort of trite us Marvel nerds used to laugh at as childish.
You are so unstable that most people took your joke about eating your child’s placenta as fact. 
This isn’t the Tom Cruise I want to believe in. In my movie of your life, the actor playing Tom Cruise is unutterably hip, a James Bond for Generation X. In this movie we are eternally cool, and you are really just a better mirror reflection of ourselves, and folks who believe in space gods have the good sense to be quiet about it.

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