Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Ethan Hunt

When I think of Mission: Impossible, I think of the old sixties series with Mr. Phelps, played by Peter Graves, as an aging leader to a crack team of secret agents given the missions no one else can accomplish. I also think of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. And although Hunt works best alone, he would give his life for any member of his team.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt

For today’s Wednesday Warriors, I’d like to have a look at Ethan Hunt: his strengths, his weaknesses and why he always makes the Mission: Impossible franchise a treat to watch.

A long time ago, I once saw Tom Cruise on Oprah—no, not the couch-jumping episode. In this episode, he described Mission: Impossible as one of his most successful movies he had made. Many folks have their opinions about Tom Cruise the man, but I have my opinion of Tom Cruise the actor. Say what you will, the man can act. I use Magnolia as one of the best films he had ever starred. No one can convince me that after watching the quietly-judging-you scene he didn’t deserve an Oscar for that performance.

Yet, as much as I admire his dramatic roles, his action roles, including his role in the film Edge of Tomorrow, is where Cruise really shines as a big audience draw.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue NationEnter Ethan Hunt, the Impossible Missions Force‘s (IMF) top agent and leader. His expertise lies in virtually everything. He has an extensive background in explosives, weaponry and stealth. He can get in and out of a target’s home and before anyone knows what is happening, the target will have met its fate.

Ethan is also a master of disguise. One time he posed as an elderly man taking his enemy by surprise, disarming and capturing him. He also has a good command of languages, useful for when he needs to get himself out of a jam.

Martial arts? Ethan knows that, too. Whenever an adversary presses Ethan for a fight to the death, it isn’t difficult to know who will win.

But the best thing I enjoy about Ethan Hunt is not so much his mastery of disguise, command of languages, or him being a martial arts expert. No. What I like about Ethan is his ability to get out of one jam after another while showing his humanity along the way. Whether he’s fighting for his life on a speeding train, racing down a highway on a motorcycle at 140 MPH, or latching his fingers on the belly of an aircraft with the intention of securing its cargo, Ethan Hunt does the impossible. He will take the shots, in not only opportunities but also punches to the face, and fight the bad guy until the end.

Lastly, Ethan Hunt possesses a will never to surrender. In every mission he picks himself up, dusts the dirt from his clothes and continues his fight against the enemy, whoever that enemy is.

If I can say anything more about Ethan Hunt, it’s that he will do his best in whatever assignment he has going at the time. To me, such a character is a great lesson for any of us facing challenges greater than ourselves.

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Have you seen any of the Mission: Impossible movies? What are your thoughts on Ethan Hunt?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Ray Ferrier

One of the most unforgettable movie-going events my wife and I experienced happened ten years ago when we went to watch Steven Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds. We were in Nova Scotia at the time, and it was two years after Hurricane Juan had hit the Dartmouth/Halifax area. Naturally, we were all apprehensive when storms were brewing off the coast that summer, and that night was no exception. To add to the creepiness, it was ice-cold inside the theater. I was sure it would take me a week to thaw from the air conditioning.

Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier
Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier

If you’ve been following this site long, you’ll know I write my feature Wednesday Warriors for those characters I feel are larger than life or strong in overcoming tribulation. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is one of those characters.

I have to say one thing about Tom Cruise. A lot of folks are not into Tom Cruise the man, mainly for his views on psychology or his ties with Scientology or the highly publicized couch-jumping incident on Oprah. War of the Worlds came out while he was courting Katie Holmes. However, regarding Tom Cruise the actor, it is my opinion he is one of the most overlooked actors in the film industry. He should have won an Oscar for his work in Magnolia. The characters he portrays have a quiet vulnerability that shows well on the big screen.

Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier
Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier

The film War of the Worlds revolves around a father’s quest to protect his children at all costs. Not alien, human or anything else can get in his way to earning the title “Dad”. In a story where one thing goes wrong after another, and the state of the main characters spirals into a dark pit of depression, Ray takes it upon himself to keep everyone sane and safe.

Dealing with an alien invasion is one thing, but in this movie, the audience can feel the frost as Ray’s breath turns to vapor while dashing between buildings with the hope of seeing the storm that is brewing overhead. Unknown to him, the storm is more than a natural occurrence. The churning in the sky signals an ominous force ready to change his life and the lives of those he loves.

Unlike the regular Hollywood heroes who can fight through anything and come out of a battle unscathed, Ray has a complex personality. He’s not likable. He’s not the best father in the world. And, if anything, he is one of the most selfish characters a moviegoer will ever encounter. But when the invasion finally hits, Ray’s instincts kick in and he becomes the one who leads those who depend on him for freedom.

Ray’s fears take a major role in the plot, making him as ordinary as the audience viewing his growth throughout the film. What was once a man filled with assertion of his abilities, transforms into an unlikely hero with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The key to Ray is his kids. Without his kids, he might as well not live, as denoted in one scene where he had to let one of them go.

Soon after having watched the film and exiting the theater, it had begun to rain. My wife and I dashed to our car and wondered if an alien invasion was in the midst of those clouds.

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Have you seen War of the Worlds? What are your thoughts about Ray Ferrier in the film?

Posted in Freedom Friday

1999

I am convinced that 1999 was one of the best years in film. I didn’t notice this until one night when I was looking through my DVD collection and came upon The Matrix, a movie about a reality within a reality. Flipping the box, I came upon the date and remembered Fight Club came out that same year. This led me also to note American Beauty and Magnolia released that year, too.

Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Brad Pitt in Fight Club

I have a few minutes, grab a chair, and let’s talk movies for Freedom Friday.

Did you know The Mummy and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999? Both mega-blockbusters took in just under $1.5 Billion. That’s a lot of money, especially for back then.

What thrills me, though, is not the blockbusters, but the movies that have become annual events here at my home. Movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous, Analyze This, and Payback get a yearly viewing from me. Why? They’re fun movies! Whenever I’m bored, which happens more often than you think, I grab one of these movies, ease into my couch and let the story carry me away. I’m like a little kid wanting to watch the same movie again, even after having watched it twice already in a row. I never tire of these.

The Matrix
The Matrix

Anyway, about 1999—the world held its breath wondering if the lights would go out because of that supposed nasty Y2K bug that would have otherwise crippled North America’s very capable power grid. Of course, Y2K came and went with not even so much as a whimper. But the movies remained and the stories tempted their audience to be different. The majority of films imposed the message on us that we humans are unique, different, and filled with hope, and that we should go ahead and fulfill our dreams.

Here is a list of movies that hit theaters that year and why I feel they merit more than an once-in-a-lifetime viewing:

JanuaryThe Thin Red Line: A military movie gone crazy. So many cameos hit the film that I can hardly keep up including George Clooney, John Travolta and John Cusack.
FebruaryPayback: Mel Gibson as the bad guy out to settle a score. Notable mentions go to October Sky, Office Space and 8mm.
MarchAnalyze This: Robert De Niro spoofing his mob boss roles from the past. Hilarious. Notable mentions go to Cruel Intentions, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Matrix, of course.
AprilGo: One drug deal, three different points of view. Incredible.
MayThe Mummy: A mummy comes back to life and eats people’s body parts. Sounds like a modern zombie movie. Notable mentions go to Election, and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
JuneTarzan: Disney’s animated version. Great song by Phil Collins.
JulyDrop Dead Gorgeous: A mockumentary about teen beauty pageants. Notable mentions go to American Pie and The Blair Witch Project.
AugustThe Sixth Sense: The kid sees dead people. Scary as heckfire. Notable mentions go to Dick and The Iron Giant.
SeptemberAmerican Beauty: Kevin Spacey has a midlife meltdown. Awesome! Notable mention goes to Double Jeopardy.
OctoberFight Club: Don’t talk about Fight Club. Notable mentions go to Mystery, Alaska, Three Kings, and Bringing Out the Dead.
NovemberDogma: A loophole in Catholic dogma may undo creation. Hey, anything with George Carlin is funny. Notable mentions go to The Bone Collector, The Insider, Sleepy Hollow and Toy Story 2. You didn’t really think I was going to forget this one, did you?
DecemberMagnolia: Multiple plotlines that all intertwine somehow. Notable mentions go to The Green Mile and Man on the Moon.

Quite a list, isn’t it? Can you believe these great movies came out all in one year? I suppose the fear of the Y2K bug consuming civilization made for a situation where creative juices flowed freely.

Speaking of which, I have to head off. I think later tonight I’ll pop in Fight Club and have Jack’s complete lack of surprise engulf me.

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What 1999 movie do you remember as the one you cannot forget?