While most superstars are thrilled to play a superhero, Tom Cruise, at age 53, is ever more committed to showing the world he is a real super-hero. Insisting on performing his own stunts, he has leaped tall buildings in a single bound and now asks the audience to look up in the sky: it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Tommy leaping onto the side of an airplane!
As seen in the well-publicized trailer, Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, hangs 5,000 feet above the ground from an Airbus A400M, without use of special effects (single harness CGI’d out). It only took eight takes, ugh! Half the fun of watching this movie is watching what Tommy (Ethan) is going to do next. This movie isn’t so memorable as it is just a lot of fun.
Cruise has a way of turning fans against his inflammatory statements and questionable lifestyle, but slowly has been improving his personal image. However, for two plus hours, none of that matters. We came to be entertained by “Mission: Impossible” and it was Mission: Accomplished. The fifth movie of the series references each of the prior flicks, but requires no prior knowledge, generates no loss of steam and has no end in sight.
Christopher McQuarrie (“Jack Reacher”) is the fifth director of this series, joining Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird. He never tries to make this more than what it is. Funnyman Simon Pegg as sidekick Benji Dunn offers just enough humor without being silly, to keep the “serious” tone of this intentionally absurd storyline.
Meanwhile, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, as British double-agent Ilsa Faust, might be the most impressive femme fatale of the series. Jeremy Renner as William Brandt and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell rejoin the IMF (Impossible Missions Force), while Alec Baldwin is typecast as the jerky boss man Alan Hunley of the CIA.
In each episode, Ethan receives his impossible mission instructions on the latest technical gadget, but here it’s on vinyl at 33-1/3 RPM. He must now take on the Syndicate, a highly skilled international rogue organization of former agents. Led by the evil Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), they are committed to taking out Ethan and the entire IMF. For those who remember the 60’s TV show, the Syndicate was the usual enemy.
For those of us from the old school, the formula is simple: provide a reasonable excuse for charismatic stars to race through international locales and fight despicable villains. Add espionage, deception, plot twists and some humor and we’re pretty satisfied. As with any good recipe, it’s how it’s assembled and the secret sauce that make it special.
The IMF is a small group against the world with a seemingly impossible mission; thus the title. McQuarrie, who also wrote the screenplay, accepts his mission to make us believe there is just enough of a chance, provided the strategy goes as planned. Of course, it never does, which adds to the intensity and thrill of the “hunt” (pun intended).
The action sequences in the air, car, motorcycle and on foot are creative and stunning. The sound effects are sensational, and Lalo Schifrin’s familiar musical theme resonates through each scene. In a rare instance of Hollywood restraint, the body count is minimal, mostly bloodless and still delivers the desired effect of each confrontation.
Finally, the storyline is complex but not confusing and plot twists are somewhat predictable, but still offer enough surprises to amuse and entertain.
“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” is 131 minutes and rated PG-13 for sequences of action, violence and partial nudity. It may be difficult for some to believe, but there is an audience that doesn’t know the alias of each X-Men and which super-power they have. This movie is old-school action with new-tech thrills and solid popcorn entertainment.
Tom Cruise is a true super-star and could even compete in any obstacle course TV show. We don’t approve much of his personal life, but do give cinematic credit where credit is due. With all the buzz he generates off screen, you might say the mission to draw an audience to his movie is impossible; but it’s one we choose to accept time and again.
Ron’s Rating: B+ Leigh’s Rating: B