So the 64 million dollar question is this: Has Tom Cruise's bizarre behavior caused the audience's lack of interest in this project? Or, do the numbers simply reflect the fact that Hollywood produced a two-hundred million dollar film as a second sequel to a movie that wasn't all that good in the first place?
Let me say by way of prologue, that I haven't seen M:I:3. Probably will go this weekend (though I might go to United 93 instead...). So I can't comment on the general quality of this third installment, though I understand that the buzz about it has been quite positive from many sources.
I'm sure that Tom Cruise's bizarre personal antics (getting a personal ultrasound to monitor his baby's development, sofa jumping on Oprah...) cost the film a few bucks, but I tend to believe that the two-hundred million dollar budget is a particularly steep mountain to climb. Especially for a film with the designator "3" after the title. Traditionally in movie history, a second sequel is scrimped on budget-wise (because of the law of diminishing returns...), and must get by on ingenuity or other qualities (on example is Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1970), which boasted virtually no budget, but which brilliantly turned around the franchise's core concepts and relaunched the movies in a new direction).
What do y'all think? Is Mission:Impossible:3 the kind of movie you make a "date" for and run out to see on opening weekend? Or are you satisfied to catch it on DVD? It's not quite an "event" franchise for me (like Star Wars, Star Trek, Bond or The Matrix) simply because the two previous films didn't really stir me. I'm a huge De Palma fan, but I hated how the 1996 film destroyed the "team" concept of the TV show.
Now, before someone accuses me of being a cranky old fan (again...), I have to say that I don't mind a re-imagining of Mission:Impossible, but I just thought it would be nice to have (just one...) movie franchise about a team of agents working in tandem to accomplish a goal. After all, we already have the 007/Bond pictures, which focus on one man acting alone to save the world. And now we also have the superior Bourne pictures -- also about one pseudo-spy acting alone. Then there's also XXX. On TV, there's Alias (at least for a while longer).
The Mission Impossible films, now that they're just about one guy (and not a team...) don't hold that much appeal for me. I mean, what really distinguishes them as "special" now that the concept has been corrupted to be "The Tom Cruise Show?" This is where I think Hollywood is stupid. Back in the mid-1990s, Tom Cruise was probably the biggest star in the world, and the movie-makers and studios gambled that it would be better to take a brand name (Mission:Impossible) and shape it around him, rather then to keep the core conceits of the very popular TV show. Now that Cruise has gone off the deep end, the whole franchise - re-designed just for him - is in danger. Had the studio left Mission:Impossible intact as an ensemble piece, it wouldn't be facing this self-destruction today. Cruise's role could be minimized and the franchise wouldn't be endangered.
A perpetual joy of the old TV show was that it was very smart. You had to really pay attention to the plot, and what was happening, or you could easily get lost. The MI team exploited the foibles of the bad guys and got the job done oftentimes even without their presence being known. There was something very sweet and bad-ass about the way that the team got in, unemotionally did their work, and left undercover in a plain-looking van...mission accomplished. This idea is something that heretofore (and again, I haven't seen M:I:3) has been absent from the movie franchise.
So what do you think? Is M:I:3 a failure cuz of Cruise, excessive cost, or simply because this film franchise doesn't result in a must-see movie? I'm curious to know what folks think about it, especially since it has started off the summer sweepstakes and is considered one of the season's "big" attractions."