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Tom Cruise: the last great Hollywood artist?

Tom Cruise: the last great Hollywood artist?


The latest Mission: Impossible movie, produced by and starring pop culture cyclone Tom Cruise, has just landed on NOW TV. The previous six films are also available to stream, so I did what any action movie fan would do: binge on everything.

The new text bears, as is the usual procedure, a tedious title: Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning, Part 1. A colon and a hyphen in one name? Come on then.

That aside, M:I7 is, like the others, fantastic entertainment. Remember when action-adventure movies were fun? When would this kind of spy maneuver lean into its inherent ridiculousness and be playful, over-the-top, stupid and, because of all those things, brilliant?

More importantly, these films were politically and culturally neutral. Blockbusters have not always offered moralistic homilies or sought to socially manipulate livestock in cinema. Their messages never went beyond basic, unquestioning encouragement to do the right thing/fight bad guys/find inner courage, or anything else.

The Mission: Impossible series is great, for no other reason (and none necessary) than that of pure entertainment, very well done, without pretension, lecture, identity politics or conceit. Essentially, it's free of all the bullshit that ruined much of Hollywood and especially that other hit spy series, James Bond.

In fact, Cruises' baby is like the anti-Bond. This is Bond when these films were fun, not boring and ridiculous. Mission: Impossible takes the task of entertaining us seriously, without taking himself too seriously. HAS quote THE Hills Christian Toto: Cruises Let's put on a show! the ethos, devoid of political posturing, recalls a time when the public came first.

Compare this to Bond since Daniel Craig began the role in 2006. Casino Royale. 007 was suddenly no longer the classic archetype of the sexy, killing, fucking, baccarat-playing bastard for Queen and Country. Now he was so tortured, complex, questionable and deep.

Even the greatest realism in these films was stupid. Guys, he's an immortal super-spy, impossible to kill by bullets, bombs, STDs or liver cirrhosis. You don't need to think too much about it.

The Craig era films probably needed a little post-Jason Bourne spice to go along with the sweetness, but did the producers have to remove 90% of the reason people liked 007 in the first place? The Bond franchise has become far too important in its cultural role: we will no longer just entertain, we will change the way people think.

Stop! License withdrawn! The only way Bond can try to save the world is to dismantle this nuclear bomb 0.07 seconds before detonation.

We haven't even mentioned the identity politics that have also poisoned the show and not in the cool, arsenic KGB way. When will we have the first female Bond?, obsessive weirdos cry out loud. The first color link? TransBond? Two-spirit connection? Deaf link? Bond in a wheelchair? Bond as a Hamas, er, freedom fighter?

Daniel Craig, it should be noted, is an excellent actor but perhaps that was part of the problem. He wanted to act as if he were performing a Chekhov play or a Terence Mallick film. He should have saved the serious acting stuff for other types of films, just like Tom Cruise did in Magnolia Or Interview with the Vampire.

The Cruiser is great in Mission: Impossible because he understands what an action movie is supposed to be. And ironically, despite everything slag he becomes self-centered or a control freak, he has no problem making fun of himself and allowing his character to be imperfect. Cruises Ethan Hunt is tired, grumpy and restless. And he often counts on stupid luck.

Oddly enough, Cruise is one of the most admirable movie stars around. He doesn't refer to himself as the moral guardian of humanity or anything like that. He's an artist, pure and simple. His blockbusters don't speak to the plebs. In real life too, he seems to avoid pontificating. Cruise is an old-school Hollywood star who gives people what they actually want, rather than what he thinks they should want.

Accepting the David O Selznick Achievement Award last year, Cruise told the Hollywood crowd: You allowed me to have the adventurous life I wanted, and I was able to travel across the world, working and watching films in so many countries, to share their cultures and realize how much we all have in common and admire our differences. Amen to that.

The year before, he shouted directly to fans on social media most succinctly: Thank you for allowing us to entertain you.

If you had told me 30 years ago that one day the nerdy, smiling, strutting asshole Cocktail And Thunder days would have been one of the few actors I would have respect for, I would have laughed. But there. Tom Cruise is one of the last great artists still working.

Darragh McManus is an author and journalist. Visit his website here




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