I hadn’t heard this song in a long time. “Sour Times” hails from album Dummy, released in 1994. I was obsessed with this record. That might be putting it mildly, however. I kept this album in my car until roughly 2002 — when my car, including my Portishead record was stolen. I got the car and my golf clubs back. Not so much the Portishead CD. I happened across “Sour Times” on XMU during my morning drive and I thought, “Holy shit that would be a great Bond song.” I tested it with a few of the slower, more methodical Bond titles but I liked it best with Spectre. I really wanted to finally match up something with For Your Eyes Only, but then I remembered why I’ve never matched anything with For Your Eyes Only — Sheena’s silly head singing along with the lyrics. C’mon Sheena. Down in front. Some of Portishead’s lyrics synced nicely with the Spectre visuals so I let it ride. The oddity here is that the credit sequence has a longer runtime than the song. I manipulated the pacing of specific sequences in the video for better overall timing. The result? Another blissfully Sam Smith-free version of the Spectre titles. It feels like low-hanging fruit to keep replacing Sam Smith, but I think you’ll agree that this specific replacement was well worth the effort.
Directed by Brian de Palma and starring Tom Cruise, this shiny new reboot of the Mission: Impossible TV franchise had been earmarked on many calendars. I remember my own anticipation in the weeks leading up to the Wednesday release date. I don’t remember if I skipped school or we just happened to have that day off, but I remember vividly arriving at the theater that morning for a noon screening with my friend Sarah. Our junior year of high school was winding down so either option would have been plausible. Inside the lobby of the theater was a gargantuan cardboard standup advertising the film. These are insignificant details, but I’m painting a picture here you see. The theater lobby was largely empty. Eventually the theater filled up with devoted noontime moviegoers, but I made sure I was there plenty early.
I’d seen a couple episodes of Mission: Impossible, but the series’ history wasn’t a driving force in my expectations. For me this was a Tom Cruise movie. This was also a Brian de Palma movie. de Palma, a director whose output I’d just begun to explore properly. I’d just watched Dressed to Kill for the first time. And to a young cinephile that particular film is profound eye candy. I was also a massive fan of U2. And the fact that Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton had composed this new theme for the movie contributed in no small part to my obsession with Mission: Impossible. Even before the release of the film. At 17, I wasn’t the #Bond_age_ Guy. I was just an equal opportunity fan of movies. If you’ve forgotten the specific track, here’s a reminder:
When I think back on the films for which I’ve built massive pre-release expectations, Mission: Impossible resides in the Top 10. I wasn’t disappointed. I bought tickets to see the film again during the coming weekend. Mission: Impossible went on to break Terminator 2‘s record for a Wednesday opening and become the third highest grossing film from 1996. Critics generally embraced the reboot though their often backhanded praise fell short of unbridled fan enthusiasm.
Stephen Holden of the New York Times addressed the film’s hyper-convoluted plot: “If that story doesn’t make a shred of sense on any number of levels, so what? Neither did the television series, in which basic credibility didn’t matter so long as its sci-fi popular mechanics kept up the suspense.” The kinetic narrative glossed over narrative reason in favor of showy misdirection and entertainment value. Subsequent viewings (at least for me) revealed the frayed seams of logic, somewhat diminishing the film’s luster. And yet Mission: Impossible holds a special place in my history of treasured cinematic experiences. Do you recall the profound silence where Tom Cruise repels into the heat-sensitive computer terminal? No one in the theater dared breathe. For this scene alone, Mission: Impossible left an indelible mark on cinema — and not just of the action variety.
The success of 1996’s Mission: Impossible spawned a two decade franchise (and counting). This seems rather insignificant in the shadow of fifty years of Bond. But let’s consider that Tom Cruise has been playing Ethan hunt for 20 years now. No Bond actor ever entertained that kind of longevity. And though the M:I franchise has been full of fits and starts (rather than purposeful execution of the brand) as Cruise pursues other projects and personal eccentricities, the actor’s dedication to the series deserves praise. 5 movies. 5 different directors. Consider further that the series peaked (arguably) with the fourth entry – Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. How often can that be said?
To celebrate these twenty years of Mission: Impossible, #Bond_age_ is going to go back to the beginning. Over the next couple months, we’re going to live tweet each Mission: Impossible film starting Wednesday, May 25th at 9pm ET. For each film follow the #Bond_age_ hashtag.
Mission: Impossible Live Tweet Schedule:
5/25/16: Mission: Impossible (1996) 20th Anniversary Live Tweet (#MI20)
Join us over the next months for every Impossible Mission. If you have any memories or thoughts you’d like to share about the franchise, feel free to share your reminiscences. We’ll post any and everything we receive as part of our three month celebration of Mission: Impossible.
James (@007hertzrumble) and Keith (@theactualkeith) go toe to toe in a Best Bond Quotes Draft. 5 blurbs vs. 5 blurbs for global supremacy. Along the way, they hit all the essential topics. Potential podcast spinoffs like the “Green Smoothie_Pod” and the “Blender_Pod”. What each Bond has every morning for breakfast. We also play a variation on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game that proves our mental acuity and stable of useless information. This leads us to discussing why we weep for our futures. And Top Gun. Because Top Gun is timeless.
James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble), proprietor of this here #Bond_age_ project, Top Gun and Green Smoothie enthusiast.
Keith Bodayla (@theactualkeith), Podcast impresario and President of the Diamonds Are Forever fanclub.
Music contained within:
“The James Bond Theme” – Monty Norman and John Barry
“I Told You I Was Freaky” – The Flight of the Conchords
“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins
“It’s Martini Time” – The Reverend Horton Heat
“Dramatic Impact #1-#4” – Ren & Stimpy Production Music
“You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” – Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards and co.
Host segments originally recorded on May 14th, 2016.
Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. No f’ing money is made from this podcast.