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Monthly Archives: August 2015

i’ll almost definitely draw things again someday. but not this day. this day we write.

(by the way, saw ant-man last weekend, and like randy carlyle after his goalie shuts out the opponent, i thought it was just okay. not great, not bad, not boring, and nothing really to write about.)

we’re going to start spoiler free. I saw MI:RN at the 1:00 showing. it is now 6:25 and i’m still not sure exactly what i thought of it yet. it follows pretty well in the mission: impossible franchise’s form in being an over the top, silly action movie full of magic bullshit. ethan hunt survives things that make no sense to survive (remember MI3? no?), spies double cross each other because that is What Spies In The Movies Do, and hopefully the ride is fun enough and the payoff is good enough that it’s all worth it.

not so sure that this one was worth it. it seemed a lot longer than it needed to be, the sillies were a little too few, the serious was a little too common, and the payoff, while it could have been strong, kind of made the rest of the plot not work.

at least not if the plot as presented is really the plot. oh yes, i have a theory here.

so now three lines of spoiler warning and here we go.

SPOILER WARNING

SPOILER WARNING

SPOILER WARNING

when this movie started i was convinced alec baldwin was behind the syndicate. that made perfect sense. it made it easy for him to get to ethan, it conveniently lined up with his shutting down the impossible mission force or whatever it’s called and absorbing it into the CIA in a clear power grab, it meshes with the current public anti-government power feels, it fits in with mission impossible’s fetish with the head of the CIA being the bad guy, everything about it felt right. instead, the syndicate is actually what i will attempt to describe in the following paragraph, complete with proper capitalization to make sure there are no extra barriers to understanding because, woof, this thing is pretty layered.

The British government invented the Syndicate to act as their covert op force abroad. The funding is hidden in off-shore accounts and other foreign holdings, in order to hide British involvement, and then locked in a triple-encrypted file only the Prime Minister’s retina, fingerprint, and voice can open. The Prime Minister believes it was only planned, and that he shot the idea down. Instead British intelligence official Atlee appears to have put it into action, with one of his own agents in charge. Then he disavowed another of his agents in order to extort her into going under cover and learning about the Syndicate. She’s been with them for I think it said 2 years.

so here’s the shit we have to figure out here, because either A) this movie has double-crossed its audience in a deeply effective way, or B) we’re staring at plot holes bigger than Gargantua.

  • funding – how does the Syndicate operate for years with the access to its funding hidden behind a Prime Minister who shut the program down?
  • investigation – why does the architect of the Syndicate need to gather intelligence on it so badly he strips an agent’s citizenhood in order to force her to go deep undercover long-term, a cover she is horrible at maintaining and yet the group continually accepts her?

i propose that the Prime Minister has lied to all of you, and you believed him too, ya suckers, and he has been in on the Syndicate this whole time. what MI:RN then amounts to, is Solomon Lane attempting to get access to the funding without the PM, so that he actually can go rogue. in order to prevent this, and bear with me here because it’s going to wind,

  • Atlee sends one of his best operatives to the Syndicate as he probably does regularly, so that she can
    • stop Lane getting ahold of the financials, by
      • pretending to help him steal them, so that she can
        • bring them back to Atlee, who deletes them from the storage disc. now Lane can’t find them, ever. they’re gone.
  • to steal this data, she knows she needs Ethan Hunt, so she
    • arranges for him to be kidnapped by the Syndicate
      • tricks him into helping her take it
        • steals it from him herself, either not expecting or caring about Benjy’s 100% chance of copying the data.
  • Atlee knowingly sends her back to the Syndicate without the data.
    • this ensures that the strongly anti-Syndicate Ethan Hunt dies.
      • possibly Ilsa too, which would actually be convenient for him.
    • he also knows for sure Hunt helped her steal it, meaning he also either doesn’t know or care about the data being copied 100%.

That last bullet is a bit of a hole, but makes a lot more sense than the movie’s plot on its face. why would the prime minister tell the director of the CIA that he authorized an international terror ring? of course it was “just a bad idea that some bad apples went and did.” and of course Atlee blames it all on Lane going rogue himself. well, prime minister, your movie made me follow the money, and I call shenanigans. and whats more, you even knew the prompt to open the money. if it was never created to your knowledge, why would you have any idea what to say on it?

now if any of that was intended by the movie, if that is what the plot actually was, then for one, i like it more than i thought, it’s a neat little plot. and if it isn’t, well, here’s the script for the next episode of How It Should Have Ended.

this is a big budget movie. it’s much more common for these things to spell everything out for you (in exposition for fuck’s sake!) than it is for them to ask you the audience to figure it out. honestly, i think rogue nation makes no sense but contains the backbone for a way better movie, and if you choose to watch it as if it were the way better movie, it improves immediately.

anyway, that’s my prime minister theory. MI:RN asks you to forgive a lot of typical MI magic bullshit, including a ring that automatically unlocks combination locks, a phone that can delete a flash drive by being near it, the usual mask shenanigans, that ethan can live underwater for in excess of 4 minutes and then be a little confused at first but ultimately fine, that Benji can sit around playing Halo AT HIS JOB AT THE CIA and NOBODY NOTICES, and so on. this is crap i’m willing to forgive if the movie wants me to work out the prime minister theory myself. if it’s the plot on its face, no, fuck you, there’s too much missing, and also all this missing too.

but, there’s two things i’m not forgiving either way.

Thing One: the final showdown is ripped off from Episode 3 of Season 1 of BBC’s Sherlock. but at least it shows that Lane, of all the british players in this plot, at least Lane had the sense to expect ethan’s guys to copy the data.

Thing Two: this movie is a total sausage fest. there is one woman with a real role, and that’s Ilsa, and her role is to be constantly used by all the men she answers to, and to be somehow sexually alluring to ethan i guess? but that’s never expanded on. and honestly thank you for not, movie.

can you name any other women in this movie? prime minister’s wife? who cares? wife of austrian chancellor or whatever? she’s worried about her man and that’s it and who cares? MI:RN throws women a bone by having Ilsa remove her heels before jumping down a thing (not before running a bunch in them of course though) and then is All Dudes after that. no other women working with the ex-IMF today? no henchwomen? not even an Ice Queen shutting down the IMF, just alec baldwin’s thirst to control everything? (and don’t you even believe for a minute that the last scene where they re-institute the IMF wasn’t him covering his damn ass. of course he didn’t shut it down as some kind of complete cover. fuck, man.) ladies, you get one woman, and she’s kind of a badass, but still only fits into the scheme as the pawn of powerful men.

the payoff we get is Lane being captured in exactly the same way ethan was captured. a nice bit of irony but uh, yay. the guy trying to take the syndicate rogue has been stopped. the british can continue having a bunch of covert terrorists shaping world events. i don’t think any good guys even existed in this movie, and for a Big Summer Blow-Em-Up, that’s disappointing. if you want me to suspend reality to believe simon pegg can hack an aircraft’s door open while tom cruise clings to the outside of it while it takes off, then i want that reality to see the good guys win. the factions of MI:RN are the brits who want to keep it under their control, Lane who wants to go rogue with it, and the IMF who believe Lane HAS gone rogue with it and think bringing him down stops it, which just isn’t true unless the plot is terrible.

so our options are:

  • shit plot
  • british government retains control of its international beyond-black-ops terror ring, which the movie does not actually reveal

that payoff sucks.

my final take on MI:RN isn’t “sucks” though. i’d say it was about one draft short of “actually quite good,” but being longer than necessary, problematic, and weak in its payoff leaves me at “kind of bad.”

NOTE: that payoff doesn’t suck if the syndicate returns for a 6th mission impossible and the prime minister actually gets taken down.