“…in terms of representing all of Asians and Asian Americans, [Crazy Rich Asians] doesn’t hit that mark.”
— “Is ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Asian Enough?” The Washington Post (August 10, 2018)
This past weekend, I went to see the summer blockbuster hit Mission: Impossible Fallout. Unfortunately, the film didn’t sit well with me. As we know, all good movies lack specificity and instead try to represent the unique stories of millions of individuals at once within a two-hour timeframe. So, as I watched Tom Cruise on screen, I was saddened to discover that he, and this movie as a whole, failed to fully and completely capture my experience of life as a white man.
To start, the concept of this entire franchise is just completely unrelatable to me. Mission: “Impossible”? What does that word mean, “impossible”? I don’t get it. When the mission starts to get difficult, why doesn’t Tom Cruise just ask his parents to wire him more money or donate it so he can get into business school? I feel like Mission: Marginally Challenging, Mission: Ugh, So Annoying, or Mission: Just a Minor Setback for a Major Comeback would have been a lot easier for me to grasp.
There were also many moments in the film that just didn’t feel realistic. For example, at one point, Tom Cruise is on the run and his motorcycle doesn’t start. But instead of kicking and screaming until someone else repairs it for him, he tries to fix the vehicle himself? That moment was jarring, it definitely took me out of the flow of the story.
I was also confused when Tom Cruise and that actor who plays Superman stole fancy wristbands to infiltrate an exclusive party. Why didn’t they just go up to the bouncer and say “do you know who my father is and also can’t you see that I’m white?” Sure, these are minor things, and I hate to nitpick, but it was just frustrating to watch a big part of pop culture that wasn’t relatable to my own life.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the movie’s gross depiction of my favorite summer hobbies. Growing up, Sam and Melinda (my parents) would fly me to an island where we would ride helicopters, skydive, and rock climb together. So when I heard that Tom Cruise, someone who looks like me, did these exact same things in this movie, I was giddy. Maybe he’s finally on vacation in this one, I thought.
To my dismay, in the actual movie, Tom Cruise is too preoccupied “surviving” and “disarming nuclear bombs” to fully enjoy any of these relaxing summer sports. It was infuriating, seeing so much stress and tension added to things that brought me such joy as a child. Frankly, I can handle it. I’m mostly just worried about the six-year-old white boy who watches this movie and doesn’t realize there’s pleasure in riding a helicopter that doesn’t entail taking on gunfire.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the movie is terrible and we should #BoycottFallout. It was just tough to watch a movie where I didn’t feel like any of the characters fully captured what it meant to be me—even if they all looked like me. Not all white men run across rooftops in Paris, jumping from building to building at top speed, you know? It’s frustrating to be pigeon-holed like that, again and again. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to watch a movie and see a white male character I can truly relate to. One day.