Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Mission Impossible v Twister: Style always wins

I've been to the movie theatre half a dozen times in the past couple of months, and my faintly beating cinematic heart is stoked by that. That heart's fierce burning to see as many movies in the theater as humanly possible really shined when I was 21, and I know it was at its brightest then, because that's when Twister and the first Mission Impossible came out.

I saw each film more than half a dozen times in the winter of 1996. They weren't the only movies that I saw more times than I should - there was, unfortunately, lots of Escape from LA - but these other two blockbusters came out at the same time, and when I was at my deepest in my movie obsession, they were both playing at the multiplex just down the road.

Look, I had loads of disposable income and free time, and I just wanted to spend vast amounts of both at the cinema. It was just so easy to fall into the habit.

So I saw both of these movies half a dozen times each, and I was getting bored of Twister's tricks by the third or fourth time (I still went, because what else was I gonna do, get a life?), but I never got sick of the tension of the raid on the CIA headquarters, or the madness of the train sequence.

Even at such a young age, I was always a DePalma kid. I just dug his moviemaking balls. Why not have extreme close-ups and zooms and split screens and everything? What use was being a filmmaker if you didn't try all the tricks, and come up with some new ones of your own?

I'm still hugely impressed with his slick and mean early 90s work like Raising Cain and Carlito's Way, and it made perfect sense to me that he'd be rebooting the dusty old MI template.

(Carlito got no love at the time, but its critical reputation has grown over the years, once you get past Viggo's outrageous accent. But holy shit, I've always thought that ambush in the pool hall is a top 10 movie scene, and nobody does sadness in the rain like Pacino.)

So Mission Impossible just had more style, had more slickness to it. Twister the sure hand of a solid director in Jan de Bont, an immensely charming cast - Paxton should have had way more leading roles -  and had a lot of new special effects that still actually hold up pretty well, but it was the stodgiest story of reunited loves and the pains of hubris.

While Mission Impossible was about jumping off an exploding helicopter onto the back of a speeding high speed train inside a cramped tunnel, and despite all the tricks and twists, it was only really ever about that.

They're still talking about a Twister sequel, and that might happen, but it's not surprise that there have been seven MIs and one Twister. I could see that coming in the dark Dunedin winter of 1996.

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