Mission_Impossible_singleSo, Tom Cruise says to his girlfriend when she gives him a hug: Hey, watch the ribs.

He’s just been in a fiery helicopter crash in the Kashmir mountains, scaled sheer cliffs to avoid plunging to his death, fought a life-and-death battle with a bad guy who wanted to destroy the world, and all he’s got is some sore ribs. His face hardly has a scratch.

And so ends Mission: Impossible — Fallout, the current far-and-away top grossing movie, which I went to see because there’s something compelling about the franchise that has been lighting audiences’ fuses ever since Mr. Phelps watched the first tape-recorded message self-destruct in 1966.

Well. Since this is the latest episode, I suppose I should have put a spoiler alert at the beginning of the post. But really, did you think Tom Cruise was going to bite it at the end of a Mission: Impossible movie?

The enjoyment in watching this kind of movie, anyway, is to find out how the IMF team is going to get out of it in one piece, and accomplish the mission, which we can tell at the outset is pretty much impossible. Ordinary spies couldn’t do it, the whole thing’s too outrageous.

For one thing, they don’t know how to make face masks that turn them into carbon copies of the bad guys. That can be a detriment when the future of the world is at stake.

The members of the IMF know that if they get it wrong, we’ll all be washing our clothes down at the radioactive creek.

It’s true that the action scenes are over the top in Mission: Impossible — Fallout. The stunts are overblown and absurd, especially to someone who’s tripped over a garden hose in their backyard or stubbed their toe walking down the hallway to the bathroom.

But it’s inspiring to see that someone can be in a raging gun battle, ride a motorcycle at 70 mph against congested city traffic, blow through red lights, slam head-first into a car and get thrown off the bike, skid 20 yards on the pavement, get up and jump into a sewer where a boat is waiting and hook back up with his pals without so much as a how-d’-do.

Good stuff.

One of the main reasons I went was to hear the theme song played on a professional big screen audio system. It was written by Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who still gets prominent credit in Fallout and all of the other franchise films. And rightfully so, since it’s the absolute best TV show theme song ever, hands-down, one theory being that the beginning of the piece is the musical version of Morse code for M.I. — dah-dah-dit-dit.

This is not your ordinary action flick, though. Mission: Impossible — Fallout explores much deeper social issues and will be analyzed in-depth by many film critics in the weeks and months to come.

Well actually no … but I had you for a second, hey?

All right, try this one. In Fallout, the bad guys are intent on destroying the old world order. Sound vaguely familiar?

Question. How come so many people want to go topsy-turvy on the old world order these days? What exactly is so horrible about how the world order has evolved, with the end of the cold war, a western emphasis on human rights and at least a nod toward political and economic equality?

Are the movie’s writers reminding us that the world order is slipping away? That it seems impossible to save it?

Should we try to keep what we’ve got and make improvements on that rather than start from scratch? Because that could lead to who knows what?

Maybe that’s our mission, should we choose to accept it.

Image: Mission: Impossible single via Wikipedia

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