“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
I spent a goodly portion of my weekend watching the first four films from this franchise. It’s amazing to think that this all started back in 1996. And even more amazing to see how ridiculously young and good looking Tom Cruise remains 19 years later. But I’ll say this about the franchise, aside from the wretched John Woo-helmed MI2 (which is only watchable if you turn off the sound and pretend they’re speaking Chinese – no, really, it works, I’ve tried it), these are a really good collection of action flicks: great looking people, mostly funny jokes interspersed here and there, incredible action sequences, and enough slight of hand to keep you off your feet. That’s not to say we don’t know where we’re headed – we know the outcomes of these movies from the start, as we do with all formula films – but these movies, like Bond flicks, are about the journey, not the result…or rather, how we GET to the result is much more interesting than the conclusion.
And this one…THIS one is a really, REALLY interesting journey. There are many things to recommend it’s patronage:
1) Cruise doesn’t actually have to speak much in this one…so we get to spend time marveling at how perfect one continues to look after selling one’s soul to Captain L. Ron (…and how DOES he run without moving his head?!).
2) The femme fatale, Rebecca Ferguson, is not just stunning, but stunning AND smart AND kicks ass AND is British! One of the more successfully multi-dimensional female characters in an action flick as I’ve seen in a long time – she doesn’t need Ethan Hunt to save or protect her. What a concept!
3) The bad guy is excellently portrayed by the CRIMINALLY underused Sean Harris…one of the top five or six PHENOMENAL British character actors in the world (whose face also answers the question what would it look like if a rat and a ferret had a human baby). Do yourself a favor and watch some of his scenes as a terrifying assassin (who happens to be gay) in “The Borgias.”
4) Abrams direction is without any waste. Unlike ALL the action flicks of late, he doesn’t make any action sequence overstay it’s welcome.
5) The script has FAR fewer corny lines than the previous four films.
6) Each act consists of its own three-act process…yes…it’s like watching a trilogy in one film. Three capers in one!
7) The first four films suffer from moments of brutal nothingness, which needlessly bog them down…like seeing a punk band play a ballad after 30 minutes of ferocity, and then try to rev it back up again…but I couldn’t really recognize a moment like that in this film.
8) The effects have never been better. The motorcycle chase alone…jesus…
Obviously, it has a few drawbacks, but far fewer than the previous four films. Umm…let’s see if I can come up with one. Oh…each of the first four films has a singular keystone stunt. Not so much this one…and that’s not really a negative, since one of the reasons those past stunts stand out is that those earlier scripts needed them to.
So, I would say go! I saw it in an IMAX theater and my ears are still bleeding, but the volume and scope, for me, totally added to the delightful mayhem. Enjoy!
Oh…instead of the actual trailer (which simply parrots the commercials you’ve all seen), here’s a fantastic trailer mashup featuring Chris Farley: