JUSTIN CHANG WEEDING OUT "ULTIMATE SUMMER MOVIE", MENDELSON ON BIGGEST MEMORIAL DAY RELEASES
"Brian De Palma’s sinuous, elegantly impenetrable first installment" of the Mission: Impossible film franchise "remains one of the Tom Cruise series’ high points," states Justin Chang today in the fourth week of the L.A. Times Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown. It's a "16-week contest to program the greatest summer movie season ever," Chang continues. "Or at least since 1975, the year that Jaws forever changed the landscape of moviemaking, gross tallying and beach bumming forever."
Each week, Chang presents a list of 16 summer movies from 1975 to 2019, and asks readers to vote for their favorites via his Twitter acount, @JustinCChang. De Palma's Mission: Impossible is one of the 16 movies Chang listed this week.
Meanwhile, over at Forbes today, Scott Mendelson takes a look at the ten biggest Memorial Day weekend releases "that aren’t Star Wars or Indiana Jones" movies. It turns out that if you remove those two franchises, and adjust the grosses for inflation, De Palma's film is the eighth biggest Memorial Day weekend release... and John Woo's sequel is the ninth biggest. Here's how Mendelson describes each of these:
Mission: Impossible (Paramount)
$181 million in 1996/$383 million adjusted
Brian DePalma’s low-key, adult-skewing thriller, one which emphasized espionage over action, is still one of the best films in the franchise. It grossed a then-record $75 million over its Wed-Mon Memorial Day weekend. The film would be rather frontloaded, partially due to folks being appalled at having to (gasp) pay attention in order to follow the tricky plot. That Mission: Impossible II was both more streamlined and had scenes where characters stopped the movie to explain what had happened up to that point makes this franchise a rare example of filmmakers “listening to the Internet.” Oh, and turning the TV show’s hero into the villain didn’t fly any better in 1996 than it would in 2020.
Mission: Impossible II (Paramount)
$215 million in 2000/$374 million adjusted
Released 20 years ago this summer, John Woo’s ridiculously over-the-top romantic melodrama (“Notorious meets Hard Boiled”) almost qualifies as self-satire, both from the director and his top-billed star as Ethan Hunt is turned into (conventionally speaking) the coolest (and hottest) action hero ever. The film marked the end of an era where star-driven, non-fantasy action movies were expected to rule the box office. It also began the transformation of Tom Cruise from “biggest movie star on Earth who occasionally does action movies” to “American Jackie Chan who mostly makes action movies.” In a time when Hollywood was starting to embrace “gritty” realism even in its blockbusters, Mission: Impossible II was gloriously surreal.