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The Actors Strike! What Do They Want?

July 18, 2023
Notes
Transcript
This week, Sonny Bunch (The Bulwark), Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post), and Peter Suderman (Reason) try to figure out why the studios and the actors are so far apart in their negotiations. Spoiler: It’s not entirely about the money. (Though it is, in a larger sense, always about the money.) Then they review Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning: Part One, the latest entry in Tom Cruise’s decades-spanning series. Make sure to swing by Bulwark+ for Friday’s episode on Cruise, his evolving career, and how he managed to get the focus off of his personal life over the last decade. And if you enjoyed the episode, share it with a friend!
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:11

    Welcome back to across the movie owl presented by Bulwark Plus. I’m your host Sunny Bunch, culture editor of the Bulwark and joined As always, by Alissa Rosenberg of the Washington Post
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:18

    of Peter Suiterman of Reason Magazine, Elizabeth. How are you today?
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:22

    It’s hot in Washington, DC, and so am I.
  • Speaker 4
    0:00:26

    It’s hot, but going to the movies is a great thing to do when you’re hot because it’s air conditioned and that’s why I’m really happy to be talking about movies with friends.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:35

    This is a is a very staggered intro here. We’re not as smooth as usual. I feel like the heat’s getting to our brains. Alright. First up in controversies and controversies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:43

    For the first time since nineteen sixty, Beckland SAG was led by Ronald Reagan. The writers and the actors are striking at the same time in a fiery speech last week. Screen actor Guild, President Fran Dresher said that the studios and their leaders have gotten greedy, that the two sides are oceans part and that the raises offered by the AMPTP don’t come close to matching inflation studios say that actors are making unreasonable demands in the face of an industry that is still hemorrhaging cash thanks to the move to streaming. So what are the sticking points here? Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:13

    Okay. So one imagines that a lot of the finer points, the finer sticking points are e pretty easy to hammer out. Right? Sag is demanding an eleven percent raise in the first year, of the deal, then four percent in each of the next two years, the studios offered five percent then four percent then three point five percent. Again, These are numbers.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:30

    They don’t strike me as terribly insurmountable, and there are disputes over, you know, how much should be contributed to health care pensions, etcetera. Again, We’re talking about degrees here. These are standard things that get hammered out in negotiations. But there are wider conceptual gulfs in other realms. Sometimes it seems that the studios and actors aren’t even sure what they’re disagreeing about.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:47

    For instance, Sag has said that the studios are attempting to pay extras aka background actors For single day of work, scan their image, on that day, then use that image in perpetuity forever. It’ll have a whole clone army. Of background workers and their files that they can put into stadiums and and have them interacting with each other. The studios insist that these scans are only intended for one use on a single project. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:11

    You scan one day, you use them in that project, whatever. The studios also insists that they only wanna use digital compositing of Stars in movies with the permission of the actors themselves. Right? SAG says the language is written in such a way that you can drive, quote, a Mac truck through it, end quote. The biggest gap though seems to be this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:27

    SAG is asking for two percent of revenue from the streaming services, which would then be divided amongst the programs on the streaming services by popularity as measured by the firm parrot Analytics. SAG offered a proxy like parrots since they know that the services are loathed to give up their actual data. The streaming services argue this is a nonstarter because it’s too difficult to determine what constitutes a success. Which strikes me as totally insane. Like, just totally insane.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:55

    If the streamers themselves can’t say what constitutes a success, How are they making decisions to green light or cancel shows? This is a genuinely enormous cost to be on the conceptual. Part of it. Right? Given the way that these negotiations tend to run.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:09

    If SAG gets two percent of all streaming revenue, that means that these studios are gonna actually have to give up probably six percent. Of revenue at least in a couple years. Right? When the director’s guild comes up again or when they finally settle with the WGA, who knows what Iatse would ask for when they get back to the table. So let’s say you have that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:28

    Right? Let’s say you give all the unions one percent. We’re talking revenue that amounts to billions of dollars. Right? Three percent of Netflix’s revenue alone amounts to almost one billion dollars.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:38

    It’s like nine hundred twenty five million, something like that. Billion here, a billion there soon, we’re talking real money. All of this suggests we’re in for a much longer shutdown than anyone really thought possible six months or so ago. Could things drag on? Up to and beyond the Oscars next year?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:54

    I mean, that’s what we’re talking about at this point. We’re we’re like, rest of
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:57

    the summer’s done. Nobody’s promoting anything. The fall festival season is very much in question. Nobody’s sure if stars are gonna show up there. The two sides are reportedly not even negotiating at the moment, The writer’s guild isn’t talking to the the producers.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:10

    I it’s wild. It’s wild. Peter, are you as surprised as I am by how far apart the actors and the studios are here?
  • Speaker 4
    0:04:18

    I’m a little bit surprised, but in a lot of ways, I I think this is just a sign of the times. And and what’s going on here is that there are two big forces. One is a massive technological upheaval in the business here. Right? And that’s streaming in specific, but also like the the coming of AI.
  • Speaker 4
    0:04:36

    And a whole bunch of sort of digital technologies that are making it possible to make films in a less human, less analog way. And that’s really just that’s just hugely changing the business and the economics of the business. And then at the same time, this is all coming following a a kind of streaming bubble that was goofed by a bunch of different factors, including people staying home during COVID, including an arms race to compete with Netflix, including lower interest rates that no longer exist, as well as just a kind of unbounded VC optimism for growth rather than profits. And you have all of this colliding. And it’s colliding right now because it’s clear that Hollywood is about to change.
  • Speaker 4
    0:05:18

    And it’s about to change in a really big way. And it’s also pretty clear that in the short term, the old business of Hollywood as it used to exist before the strikes or maybe before COVID. That business maybe is not gonna be gone completely. But it’s certainly not going to be as big. And so the argument here is over a bunch of specific sticking points about likeness use and revenue sharing and, you know, residuals and payments and all that.
  • Speaker 4
    0:05:49

    But in a lot of ways, this is the industry getting into a like a serious fight about what the business of Hollywood is going to be in the future. And and who is going to be doing what and who’s gonna make money from it. And I think right now you know there it’s easy to be both sympathetic to all sides and also somewhat frustrated with all sides. So obviously being an actor being a creative, being a writer is just a difficult job. A lot of those folks don’t make very much money at all.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:19

    Even the people who are making very solid middle class livings are often it’s very hard to figure out what kind of money they’re gonna be making, you know, six months from now or two years. It’s hard to plan. Right? Even if you’re making six figures and doing okay. It’s just hard to figure out what it’s gonna be like, especially now that, you know, that AI is maybe sort of gonna be brought in to do a lot of this or to do some of this Bulwark.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:41

    You know, so it’s it’s easy to be sympathetic. On the other hand, the one thing that’s pretty clear, like I said, even if you read people sympathetic to say the WGA strike like Zach Stents is peace in the New York Times, which I’ve quoted from here before. Like, the pie is gonna get smaller. And so there’s going to be less to distribute. And at the same time, all of the creatives are asking for more.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:00

    And so I I just think that this is this is gonna take a while to work out and it’s gonna take a while for the sides. This is now three sides. All of these sides to come to terms in terms of figuring out, like, how are we gonna agree to work together in a world where we don’t know what this business is anymore and we don’t know how much business there is going to be next year, much less ten years from now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:21

    Alyssa, it’s as Peter says, there there are kind of two distinct questions here. And this is what I was trying to get at in my is that, look, you’ve got a money question, and money questions are annoying and complicated, but are relatively easy to negotiate through, I think, relatively speaking. You’ve got you’ve got a certain amount of money. You wanna divide it up a certain number of ways, whatever. Like, that’s that’s fine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:42

    There are broader conceptual questions here about what it means to be in movies and and on TV that I think are being hammered out in a way that is of questionable it’s it’s not maybe the most productive way to do it, but it’s also the only way to do it. Because if the if the actors don’t say, you can do this and you can’t do this, the studios are just gonna do everything. And it gets to a question of what it actually means to be on screen. Right? So this is a thing that the unions have had to argue about before.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:10

    Unions had to go on strike to get residuals for, you know, appearances on TV. Right? The is when a film is in theaters, that’s one revenue stream. When it goes to TV, they had to strike so they would get their their residuals. And you see this over and over again as the the history of the industry has changed.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:27

    But now we’re we’re talking about a a future in which somebody somewhere sits in cuter and puts together a digital version of an actor from preexisting footage or possibly newly scanned footage and uses it in perpetuity forever, like I I don’t know how you I don’t know how you negotiate that without just saying, you can’t do this. Yeah. You cannot do this because if you do this, it makes us obsolete and we don’t want that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:52

    Yeah. And look, I think that studios would be very foolish if they make a long term bet on scanning actors and replacing them, just because the idiosyncrasy of actors’ choices and directors’ choices, is so important to what makes art feel human. Right? I mean, I was actually sort of thinking about this earlier in the day. I’ve been listening to Fleetwood Max rumors, And, you know, there are just certain choices that Stevy Knicks makes when she’s singing.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:23

    That, you know, change up sort of the pacing of, you know, a line so a different number of syllables fit into it. And I don’t know how an AI would make those choices. Right? So I think that, you know, I think the the sort of worship of the algorithm has been foolish both in the idea that you can program by algorithm. I mean, if even Netflix is saying it’s hard to determine what their shows are actually worth, then maybe the sort of algorithmically driven approach, the sort of data driven approach, doesn’t make that much sense.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:56

    But you know, even as if I think the studios are foolish to think that that option is going to work, of course actors have to fight against it. And you see a sort of shorter term version of that in one of the contract disputes that we didn’t talk about. Variety mentioned that the actors want it to be clear that motion capture performance and motion capture work. Is is covered Bulwark under the contract. And so, you know, you you have the version of that that’s being fought out right now and where people have sort of been lucky to do the work on contract terms because, you know, the people who are producing movies involving motion capture work decided not to be jerks about it, but you have to fight to make sure that these things are clear.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:38

    You have to fight fight if you’re a union to make sure that your people sort of have their jobs. On some men fundamental level. But I also do wanna push back a little bit on the idea that the money is easy because I think in a world where know, the free money comes to an end. It’s not as much. And you see the number of areas where money is stake.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:58

    It’s not just sort of the increases to the minimums, but it’s things like trying to raise the pension contributions so that people who are doing a job that’s sort of fundamentally not stable can get a little bit more stability out of that. You have the debates over the length of options. For example, because right now, you know, the producers can keep actors on hold for enormous amounts of time even when they’re not actively shooting a project, without freeing them up to find other work. And so, yeah, I mean, obviously, this is existential, but I would not undercount the extent to which the money stuff is going to be hard to solve. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:36

    I mean, for to be clear, look, negotiating over money is always tricky and, you know, nobody wants to give up money. But that makes sense. Right? It, like — Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:44

  • Speaker 2
    0:11:44

    it makes sense on a fundamental level. We know what negotiating over money looks like.
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:48

    I think the way I put it is that it’s hard, but it’s straightforward.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:51

    Right. Yeah. And negotiating over what the job is or sort of what a human is. Like, if you build an AI model of Tom Cruise, like, can the AI model join the union? Hey.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:01

    That’s an interesting question.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:02

    Can the entity join SAG? That’s what I want. That’s what I wanna we’ll get to we’ll
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:07

    get to that question.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:08

    Very important question in a minute.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:09

    But it’s it’s interesting. I, you know, I work in a newsroom where there’s starting to be a concentrated effort to think about how we use AI in our work. And in a weird way, journalism, I think is a little bit more insulated from this, not because, you know, you can’t train a large language model to replicate people’s style. Because in journalism, it matters what’s real or what’s true. And so, you know, if Hollywood is like, okay, chat JPT, go write me a movie where Tom Cruise tries to kill himself in the most creative way as possible.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:40

    It doesn’t matter whether Tom Cruise actually has killed himself in these creative ways. But in journalism,
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:47

    if you That’s dark, Melissa. That’s really dark.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:51

    But in journalism, if you ask and, you know, chat UPT, to write a story, describing ways the Tom Cruises attempted to kill himself, and it comes up with things that have not appeared in the Mission Impossible films, and you publish it, that’s a problem. So You know, I think journalism is insulated from this debate maybe by a matter of years in a way that acting and writing are not. But, yeah, of course, it’s existential. Right? Like, what does it mean to be human?
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:19

    What does it mean to do the work? What, you know, distinct spark of divinely human creativity do people bring to any facet of this process? And you know, it’s hard to negotiate over the ineffable.
  • Speaker 4
    0:13:33

    So my understanding with the background actors situation, my sense of it is is just so we can sort of talk about some specifics here. Is that Hollywood all already very regularly uses software to generate very large crowds. This goes back to at least the Lord of the Ringsfilms, where weta, Bill a program called massive that they used to do a lot of the big battle scenes. And, you know, and then they might shoot some sort of close ups with, I don’t know, a couple of dozen guys, but you know, actor types. But then the when you’re seeing hundreds or thousands of people on screen, it’s generated characters.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:05

    And then there are other instances where they do sort of doubling of those big characters. But for the background actors here, I think what they’re talking about is actually, like, people at a front table or, you know, a waiter sort of walking in the background kind of thing like where you would see them quite clearly. But on the other hand, they wouldn’t be doing sort of key star type like delivering dialogue type work. And I think the my sense is that have just having seen some effects tests from some of the stuff that they did during COVID where they were trying to reduce the number of people on set and where they had restaurant scenes, for example, where the stars weren’t actually appearing in them or where the stars were on set. But then the background actors were all shot against screen screen.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:46

    If that makes sense, right? So that you would have again, just so you’re having fewer people in the same room. My sense is that what they’re talking about there is that you could scan a person and have get a little bit of a performance from them and then you could just put them on a bar stool. Put them at a table behind, you know, whoever it is the principal that’s talking in the scene. And like That’s an interesting question of, like, on the one hand that gives filmmakers some more creativity because they can move those people around afterwards.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:13

    On the other hand, I I don’t think you should be able to use and actors likeness without their permission. But it also just seems like that sort of thing you should be able to resolve, period on a case by case basis which is just if they wanna do that, if they wanna use your your likeness for this movie or for this movie in ten more, then they should have to say we wanna use it for ten more and we’re gonna pay you a ten more rate and you agree to it or you don’t. And it just sort of seems like that that sort of thing should be an individual contract rather than a unionized, you know, like a a group, you know, we standardize it. On the other hand, I know this is how Hollywood negotiates. These things are done at the union level and that’s, you know, I think in some ways probably making it a little bit more complicated.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:53

    I would also say one thing I think is important is sort of data security and how people consent to be used. Right? I mean, we’re already seeing just the floods of sexually explicit AI generated content. And, if I were an actress, I would be real leery about having that done without strong protections for, you know, the sort of use of that scan. I mean, I would be, you know, just personally really skeaved out by the potential for that, which is not to say that, like, you know, people aren’t gonna generate I mean, Look, it’s the Internet, if people can visualize You know, find a way to visualize someone doing something sexual under a certain scenario, they will do it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:39

    But I would certainly don’t wanna be in a position where, you know, I was scanned and then got used in, like, a really sexually explicit sequence without my consent. Right? Like, but I was shopped into an orgy sequence in a movie or whatever, you know. And I think there are sort of real deep, like, who owns your image and what can they do with it? Questions?
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:00

    That are questions that, I think, all of us, even those of us who are not sort of consenting to full body scans that live in somebody, you know, in a entertainment company’s servers, forever should be thinking about in terms of what we put on the Internet and what could be done with it.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:16

    So just one more example and be we’re we’re done here is that I I do recall that when Will Smith played both in, like, a contemporary age and a younger version of himself, in Angli’s Gemini man, they made a full body scan of him so that he could play the younger version of himself. And he talked about part of the deal was that he maintained totally full rights to the scan and, like, the to the the young will essentially a digital costume. Right? That you could, in fact, put on an actor who was not Will Smith. And I suspect, though I don’t know of this for certain, I would not be surprised if at least some of the scenes in the movie were shot that way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:53

    So that he could act opposite an actor. Right? And then go back and do some of the voice work himself. But that he talked about like that thing exists and it’s great because now he can just play young version of young Will Smith whenever he wants. On the other hand, like that thing has to be locked up very securely and the rights have to be like absolutely clear about who can use that and when and in what circumstances.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:13

    Right. But this, you know, let’s we’re gonna have to move on here. But this does get down back to a very fundamental point of Hollywood, which is that it is a system with massive inequality in terms of star power versus you know, the big stars versus the the little guys, you know, the somebody like The Rock, for instance, in in his most recent newsletter, Matt Bellany noted that the Rock is working on a movie for Amazon that he’s getting paid fifty million dollars for. There’s huge cost overruns. It’s apparently a giant mess.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:42

    But the you know, he’s gonna fifty million dollars. And the guy who’s making scale and working on the movie for, you know, six weeks or whatever is getting twenty five grand. And like, he the the guy making twenty five grand doesn’t have the the, you know, negotiating power to say, I would like to own my skinsuit costume forever. Please. Don’t don’t put that on the dark web.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:04

    I would rather not have that happen, you know. And that’s why you have to do the the collective bargaining thing. Alright. So what do we think? Is it a controversy or a controversy that Hollywood is good and shut down for the foreseeable future, Alyssa?
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:17

    Mean, it’s obviously controversial.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:19

    Peter. It’s a mess is what it is. So I guess that’s a controversy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:23

    Controversy. I honestly am shocked by this. I I thought that things would come together a little bit more cleanly than they have here. Thought I would things would resemble the directors. Deal a little more than they they have.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:35

    But nope. Big mess. Not getting solved any any time soon here. Alright. Make sure to
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:40

    swing viable work plus on Friday for our bonus episode or
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:43

    me talking to Tom Cruz and his career and Mission Impossible movies, all that stuff, speaking of which, onto our main event. Mission Impossible Dead reckoning part one, the latest installment of Tom Cruise’s decades spanning franchise. I’m fascinated by the series in part because of how intentionally generic it has gotten over the last, like, ten to twelve years or so. Right? You see at the start of this in rogue nation.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:06

    Where it’s a movie in which the syndicate, which is made up of rogue agents, needs to get a lock box, literally just a lock box. In order to overthrow the system. Right? And these are not generic terms I’m using to make a point. This is for Beta dialogue from the film.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:22

    Dead reckoning part one, Similarly, generic, Ethan Hunt, and his team are trying to track down the entity. It’s an evil AI that is also sought by the world’s intelligence agencies, all of whom believe that they can control the world’s flow of information if they have the unstoppable super program apparently. As an aside, kind of funny to watch the MI films as I have recently. I’ve watched them all. But you watch them progress along with the state of the Internet right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:47

    In the very first one, Ethan has to surf use Net. In order to track down the purchaser of the knock list. From Usenet to the entity in a quarter century, we’ve come a long way, baby. The generic nature of the plot is fine, though. Because the whole enterprise exists solely to show off one very specific thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:03

    The extreme ways in which Tom Cruise is willing to nearly die for our entertainment. As I wrote in my review, the Mission Impossible movies certainly is the last four, so feel a little bit like what would happen if the fast and furious movies were any good. Imagine a movie with a genuine star and, like, coherently shot set pieces that look like they take place and something resembling the real world rather than a CGI composited bag of garbage. That’s the the the Mission Impossible series. The characters in the plot exist entirely in service of getting us to a Lawrence of Arabia style shootout in the desert.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:35

    And a car chase through the streets of Rome and a bifurcated street bar over the canals of Venice, onto a mountain, on which Tom Cruise does a motorcycle jump into a base jump before crashing into the side of a train. It helps that these characters are played by absolutely wonderful actors and S. Rebecca Ferguson is great. As Elsa Fauce, Hayley Atwell. Wonderful is the pickpocket grace.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:54

    Palm Clementyev steals the show as the joyously psychotic killer in Paris. Seriously, the my favorite thing in this movie, I just wanna briefly just highlight this. At at one point, she’s carrying she’s driving this APC through the streets of Rome, this massive vehicle through the streets of Rome. She’s just pancaking cars, and she’s smashing through stands of Mopes. And director Christopher McCoy keeps cutting back to her face.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:14

    Like ten or twelve times. And in any other movie, I would be deeply annoyed by this. I’d be like just focus on focus on the chase. We don’t need more reaction shots. But I could have used a hundred more cuts to her.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:24

    If this movie had to be four hours long to fit them all in there, I would have allowed it because it’s it’s she just looks so amusingly demented. It’s it’s wonderful. I hope the the Blu ray actually has like a picture in picture version of that scene where we just watch her face the whole time. It would be wonderful. I don’t know, guys.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:41

    My two cents on this whole series is that the movies are simultaneously very well done and completely disposable. There’s nothing really to wrestle with here. They’re they hold up fine on rewatch. If I never saw any individual entry again, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It’s perfect popcorn fair in other words.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:56

    It’s the sort of movie. That definitely benefits from being seen on a giant screen with an oppressive sound system battering the very air from your lungs. Do do as Tom’s says go see it in the in the theaters on the big screens. I liked it. Thumbs up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:09

    Alyssa, what did you make of dead reckoning part one?
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:14

    I’m really annoyed they killed Eilsa Faust. I mean, maybe that’s a dumb initial reaction to have to this movie, but I thought Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise, were so excellent together in this franchise. And she gives in last couple movies in many ways, the most interesting performance as someone who, you know, feels a lot of melancholy who has and so a sort of interestingly masculine energy and sort of in her fight style on the way that they costume her, who really just felt like Cruises equal on screen. And I did not love Grace as a character, and in particular, was just not compelled by the idea of her as, like, functionally and also replacement. And that just kinda lingered for me as a sour note throughout the movie.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:07

    I would also note that I do not care about Ethan Hunt’s Psychology or backstory at all, and was really irritated that this movie spent any time at all being RETconning all of the impossible mission force folks into something where like, they were super criminals who got like offered the choice and you know, that Ethan is being brought in some like personal vendetta from stuff that we’ve never heard about. She’s like, gagged me. What a waste of time. But the motorcycle stunt is very cool. The crashing the orient express off a bridge is just enormously fun, like the sequence where cruise and Atwell are having, like, work their way up through the car, dodging, you know, hot grease from fires, and grand pianos is just a treat and the thing with the entity is fine.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:55

    I actually think you could have done something semi etiologically interesting about why a human being would sort of decide to be in service to an AI. You know, theoretically, we we may get some of this in the adaptation of the three body problem, and which which is in part about a human being who just decides to betray other human beings in favor of an and annihilating alien force. But as is, like, the idea that, you know, this Gabriel guy who’s apparently super significant is, like, you know, the harbinger of the entity just comes across as incredibly dumb. So I don’t know, I I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but it does not stand up to any amount of thinking about it at all. That said, Palm ClementiF is completely delightful.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:38

    And having her play a character who just like in joys being violent and destructive and evil is a hoot, and that’s the supervillain energy that everyone should be bringing into twenty twenty four and beyond.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:49

    The one thing I did like about how they they used Elsa Fausten this movie is the the best there’s a sequence in the middle where Tom Cruise, Ethan Hunt, is stuck in an alley. Like in a claustrophobic alley and he’s gotta fight his way out of it. He’s got enemies on both sides. And they’re basically just detaining him long enough So this esi this character played by esi Morales, Gabriel, can kill either Grace or Ilsa. And, you know, that whole sequence had more tension and more energy with this driving amazing score than anything from John wick four.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:26

    Right? Like, it it feels like very it feels very much like a John wick fight where you have you have this tight geographical location, and they’re using space in very interesting and different ways. But there were actual emotional stakes here because I agree with you. I also Fouse is great in this movie. Rebecca Ferguson is great as her.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:43

    It it gives Ethan and and her night is there are a few nice little character beats character moments earlier in this film and throughout the series. And I was it was very tense to see how that how that would resolve itself. Peter, what did you of mission impossible dead reckoning part one.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:00

    So after reading your your review, Sonny, I I actually have a pitch for another Mission Impossible movie. Yeah. To hear me out. So it’s in this one, the protagonist must fight the enemy. Who has an intricate plan to use a rare high-tech thing to be evil and dominate the world.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:19

    And the protagonists must run and run and keep running with a determined running face, and that’s that’s basically the movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:28

    Well, this also works as a tenant sequel. Interesting.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:33

    It should be a crossover. No. I I think I liked it more than either of you guys. It’s just a a kind of a delight. Ron DeSantis actually thought about your fast and furious comparison.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:43

    I thought it was just right because I had the same thought. Especially in the Rome sequence here, that great chase bit that you talked about. There’s actually a similar sequence in the most recent Fast and Furious movie, except the one in the Fast and Furious movie is awful. And it’s maybe the best sequence in the movie and it’s still just awful like almost unwatchably garbage y in the way it looks. And here you actually see what it’s like to have all these cars moving through tiny little, you know, European streets, you paved with whatever.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:11

    Like at at high speed and it just actually looks like they went there and shot real cars and had stuff moving around because, you know, they did and and you just see that sort of that determination to have some sort of some sense of physical reality and and something like you know real things caught by camera lenses the whole time. There is a there’s also just like a great sense of like a a madcap elaborateness is the only phrase I I could think of to to describe it. Right? There are so many complications to every single action scene in this movie. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:49

    It’s like a giant Swiss watch. And just with a as with a Swiss watch, Most of it is kind of unnecessary, right? You could always just buy a cheap timex and that would keep time for you. But there’s something wonderful and beautiful about a Swiss watch in its excessiveness. In its elaborateness, in the the fact that all of this is unnecessary and yet it is intricate and wonderful.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:15

    And that’s what I liked about this is it’s is its totally unnecessary intricateness and its devotion to a kind of physical machine reality. Alright. And then like they sure the plot is completely generic, completely worthless. Right? It’s it’s basically on the level of, you know, what I said at the beginning of like the protagonist must fight the enemy to over the Mcguffin.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:39

    But that’s it. But that’s been the case. In the Mission Impossible films, pretty much all the way through. None of the the Mcguffins have been terribly clear or specific. I mean, frankly, in the third movie, you know, which is where the the series started to to reboot.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:55

    The McGuffin is like some sort of like, well, we don’t even really know what it is, but you could take over the world. Like it only works because Philip Seymour Hoffman is just a perfectly convincing bad person who has like it it’s It’s an amazing performance because somehow or another it makes no motivation of virtue. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done at certainly at that level. Before and this movie just like keeps that sensibility. And the entity is just a it’s there because even Hunt needs somebody and something to fight and to show off.
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:27

    And I just didn’t I didn’t care about the plot, but I didn’t care that I didn’t care about the plot at all. I was there I was there for the sequences and I was there for the the way that this movie is just designed to show off the biggest and best and most spectacular things that Hollywood can do and every one of the sequences works. I think the only I think the movie is a little bit too long probably about ten or fifteen minutes. The place where it bogs down is in the setup on the train before you get to the big motorcycle jump sort of basically all the stuff. As Ethan Hunt is driving around, waiting to discover what we all kind of know is coming, which is that he’s actually gonna have to jump off of a mountain to get to the train.
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:05

    And that that bit between the the sort of shadowy night fight on the streets and when Hunt actually gets to the train, that bit is a little bit slow and takes a little bit too much time and probably should have been trimmed down. But otherwise, I just it’s fast moving. It’s incredibly physical. It’s super determined to entertain you. And just to go for broke at every moment, it is also incredibly clear and incredibly clear with really quite complex logistical stuff to capture.
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:35

    So I I don’t know. I I just I really enjoyed it. It’s not just A pretty good summer movie or pretty good popcorn entertainment. This is superior stuff and it it is done with an intent to to actually wow people and to actually deliver on the premise and promise of a big three hundred million dollar movie. And you just don’t see that very often.
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:00

    Especially after you know watching the flash and Indiana Jones over the past month watching this was really refreshing. Like even the worst I think the worst action scene in this movie is the fight that happens on top of the train, which of course is at least a part of a partly a reference to a similar train bit in the first film. It just doesn’t look all that great. It’s pretty clear that there’s a bunch of CG work going on But you compare that to the train top fight at the beginning of the new Indiana Jones. And you know what?
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:29

    It first of all looks better. It looks like someone tried to make it look good rather than like someone tried to make it look like a basically an animated sequence with somebody wearing a digital Harrison Ford mask. And it’s also just staged and shot and organized with a kind of cracker jack logic that all of these other movies that are, you know, like, that want to that want to lay claim to were actually worth the two or three hundred million dollars we spent on them. Like you don’t see any ideas on screen. You don’t see any actual craft.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:02

    You you just see a lot of like, oh, sort of well, we’re here because, you know, this sequel demanded it. This is a film that is a sequel and is just and is delivering on the promise of the of the franchise, but it is also attempting to do so in a way that actually respects the audience and says we know that, like, you deserve to be entertained and entertained well, and we are damn sure we are gonna do it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:28

    Yeah. And I don’t disagree with any of that. I just the ilsa thing just sticks my craw a little bit and it’s I mean Do you think she’s actually dead?
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:36

    Because this is this is the thing. You know, the script They’ve been rewriting the script. I I don’t know what stage that’s in with a with a WGA strike. But the movie is the sequel’s about to go. About to go into production.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:48

    And it does seem like the kind of thing where they could bring her back somehow or another.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:52

    Maybe.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:53

    She seems pretty dead also. But this doesn’t seem like the kind of franchise that is really gonna that necessarily, I should say, requires her to stay dead.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:03

    I think for the logic of the plot and the series, she pretty much has to be dead. But
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:08

    Yeah. I also think, like, this is a franchise that has just like what they do is they kill off the brunette eventually, either in, like, the first movie she I mean, the first, you know, John Boyd’s wife. Claire gets killed off in the first one. Sandy Newton’s character dies in the second one.
  • Speaker 4
    0:34:27

    Kirby has made it for a while. I guess she’s not the burnout.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:29

    Yeah. But she’s an antagonist.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:31

    Wait. Just like you knew and die in the second one?
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:34

    I believe so. I don’t doesn’t she, like, get infected with the virus and wander off to
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:39

    I feel like I watched that recently. I don’t remember her dying.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:43

    But, I
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:43

    don’t know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:43

    Yeah. I mean, it’s just and it’s a franchise that like the women gets to stick around for a while. And look, I mean, Having, you know, Ethan Hunt have a sort of, you know, even non romantic sort of partnership with a woman who’s his opposite number would be sort of a genuinely novel action movie thing to do. But I just I mean, Rebecca Ferguson is also, like, she’s the star. She’s amazingly compelling.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:13

    She’s good in the physical stuff. You know, the Dune is obviously sort of helping with her profile as this silo. And, you know, I The movie gets rid of the wand. It’s like, it lets the Simon Peggs and the Bing Rameses hang around, but I think she’s dead and I think it’s annoying.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:30

    For the record, Danny Newton, definitely still alive at the end of I’m I’m effort at that. Wanted to make sure because she’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:36

    But but they disappear. Right? Like, they don’t they don’t stick around. And that’s that’s kinda bummer.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:42

    Well, it’s it’s funny too because there’s a very serious case to be made that the last three Mission Impossible movies were all an effort to fix a mistake that they made in the third one, which was giving Ethan Hunt a wife. And giving him like a like, this this is the thing is that the the character only really works if he doesn’t actually have any attachments. I think. I mean Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:02

    I think that’s right. But that’s why Ilsa sort of works as the female opposite number who is sort of essentially like, she’s not a soft feminine presence who, like, needs to be protected in a conventional way. She is his opposite number. She is sort of his doppelganger. And, you know, she is independent.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:21

    She’s not gonna stick around. She’s not someone he has to take care of in the same way he did with Julia. I actually thought that was what made it work. And I don’t know. It’s just a bit of a bummer for those of us who love women in action movies who are awesome.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:36

    But, hopefully, June two will be amazing. Lady Jessica Rox, Rebecca Ferguson, forever.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:42

    I mean, if this allows her to do silos season two, three, four, five, etcetera. I’m very happy with with her doing that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:48

    Are you guys watching Silo? I’m not. I I hear it’s good. Okay. I gotta I gotta
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:52

    It’s Jonathan Last.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:52

    Gotta add that to my watch list. Alright. So what do we think? Thumbs up. On mission impossible dead reckoning, part one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:58

    Peter.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:59

    Thumbs up. Alyssa.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:01

    Thumbs up. It’s perfectly enjoyable. My quibble aside.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:04

    Thumbs up. Good movie. I I approve of that movie. Alright. That is it for this week’s show.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:10

    Make sure to head over to Will Bulwark Plus for our boat episode on Friday. Tell your friends. A strong recommendation from a friend is basically the only way to grow podcast audiences. We don’t care, we’ll die. You did not days episode, please come late to me on Twitter at Sony Bunch off them and show that it is in fact best show in your podcast feed.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:24

    See you
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:25

    guys next week.
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