Mission Abbreviated

Went to the dollar movie tonight with my wife. Mission Impossible III was the film for the evening.

The start time was 7:55, and we were running just barely on time. Put down $4 for the tickets, another $4 for Junior Mints and Skittles, and off we go.

The movie had already started as we entered the darkened theater, and we settled in as the IMF team infiltrated a high society soirée to kidnap the villian. I enjoyed that it jumped right into the story and quickly got a good head of steam under it. The story was interesting, the action was good, and I was grateful to see that this thing was much, much better than MI II.

The basic plot revolved around a total McGuffin, which was amusingly (and very pointedly) never identified. It was refreshing in the face of your usual movie McGuffin which is generally built up as some sort of technobabble doomsday device — this thing was distinguished solely by the fact that the bad guy really, really wanted it.

In the face of all this, I guess it goes without saying that my wife and I were quite surprised when the credits started rolling at what (by my watch, anyway) should have been the halfway point of the movie. Our heroes got the item in question, and were all safe at home and happily chatting away, and I was waiting for… I don’t know… something to blow up, or evil commandoes to come blasting their way in, or…. something. Nope. Credits. Movie’s over.

My wife looked at me. “How much did we miss???”

Turns out that either we misread the movie time or the movie website was wrong. The movie started at 7:00 pm, we walked in at five minutes to eight. It might have been nice for the girl at the ticket booth to say something, don’t you think?

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is… We say a good movie. A complete story. It was more of a novella, as movies go, but there was truly not a thing missing from that movie, having missed the first full hour.

I’m not sure what this says about the movie as a whole, good or bad. Again, the pointed manner in which the “prize” of the movie is never actually identified (except that it is nicknamed the “Rabbit’s Foot”) perhaps illustrates that this movie was in no way trying to be deep or meaningful. It was a pure popcorn action flick, and a good one at that. I’m sure we missed some good set pieces and action sequences, but you would never have known it. There was only one point in the movie where we thought we’d missed something — when the villain refers to killing Our Hero’s friend in a warehouse, but we both figured that that had been the opening scene before opening credits, (similar to how they do the James Bond movies), and we had come in right after that.

Maybe this should tell Hollywood something. Editing is your friend. Movies don’t always have to be two and a half hours long. I think I would go to more movies if they gave us lots of shorter, reduced price, “novella” movies, rather than constantly trying for the Super-Mega-Blockbuster.

A friend of mine not too long ago lamented that baseball used to be more interesting before the days when everyone got so focused on breaking Home Run records. The games today, he said, are all-or-nothing, and it’s not nearly as often that you get, say, bases loaded and squeeze in a few runs by hitting singles. Those were the interesting games, but the superstar-wannabe players of today are always going for homers anymore, and the games are comparatively boring.

I can see a similar thing happening in movies. I enjoyed this evening’s one-hour novella movie much more than last week’s 2½ hour to-be-continued-next-movie let’s-knock-this-baby-outta-the-park Pirates of the Caribbean.

Hollywood take note.

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