Insomniac Theater: ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue’

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cruise co-star, Rebecca Ferguson, buffed up to do stunts.

If YOU only see one Tom Cruise film this year, make sure it’s Going Clear, Alex Gibney’s incendiary documentary about the 53-year-old star’s beloved cult of Scientology. If you thought all Tom Cruise could do on screen was run and smile, then you’ve clearly never seen him as Ethan Hunt in any of the five Mission: Impossible films.Over those years, Ethan Hunt and his IMF (Impossible Missions Force) team have tracked down the NOC (non-official cover) list, stopped the deadly Chimera virus, chased The Rabbit’s Foot, and prevented nuclear war – however they did damage the Transamerica Pyramid in the process.

Tom Cruise is well-known for doing his own stunts, and the trailers for the newest installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise play off this well, highlighting a scene where Mr. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the team fights the disbandment of their IMF team and battle an evil shadow organization known as The Syndicate – group that’s as equally trained and motivated as them. As movie star stuntwork goes, it’s almost ho-hum. “Rogue” instantly jumps to a London vinyl record shop where Cruise meets a comely clerk in a scene with distinct echoes of Humphrey Bogart’s bookstore quickie with Dorothy Malone in “The Big Sleep.” Romance is not in the cards here, only a diabolical death as Hunt is gassed and captured by the nefarious Syndicate kingpin Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

We catch up with international secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) at full throttle, relieving Chechen terrorists of weapons of mass destruction in a dazzling opening. In an early scene he’s shirtless and handcuffed in a dungeon with his hands hoisted above his head as a big villain with the menacing nickname “The Bone Doctor” pummels him like Rocky pounding on a beef carcass. After a successful mission in Belarus, Brandt (Jeremy Renner) finds himself face-to-face with CIA chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) who is asking a Senate oversight committee t to disband the IMF. Like its predecessors, “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” arriving in theaters today, promises to be action-packed and full of jaw-dropping stunts. Discovering a rogue nation of former spies who are intent on chaos, Hunt goes undercover to track down their leaders, assisted by old pals played by Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames.

It might be the weakest film of the series, and certainly one to avoid if you aren’t a fan of slow-motion dove action, but there are no shortage of breathtaking stunts. The physicality of Tom Cruise is central to this film, but in the frantic opening sequences it constitutes an emphatic statement from the ageing actor/producer. ‘I’m still here, I can still carry a movie and I can hang on to an airplane with my bare hands as it takes off’ (an actual stunt he performs himself). Since the CIA has zero info on The Syndicate, Hunley believes they’re a myth and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is behind the recent terrorist attacks against Western allies. Meanwhile, the incoming CIA chief (Alec Baldwin) is attempting to shut down the Impossible Mission Force, believing they’re doing more harm than good.

Cruise loves riding on two wheels, and does manage to sneak in as much time on a bike into as many of his movies as he can, although there is a hint of Bollywood cheese to this one. Cruise and his new female co-star, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, 31, as they jump off the top of the Vienna Opera House. “I wrapped my legs around Tom Cruise and swore every bad word in the dictionary.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, who worked with Cruise on last year’s Edge Of Tomorrow, doesn’t mess with the formula that’s made the 19-year-old series a hit. The chase begins on foot, but as the sand disorientates the characters on screen, a near-blind car chase is the perfect blend of old-fashioned stunts and modern technology. But Cruise, despite what we’ve seen of him jumping on a couch on Oprah and orating at a Scientology mega-conference, is shrewd enough to know that you need to explain to the audience you’re not taking yourself too seriously.

With Brandt not able to provide any details on their missions, and no proof The Syndicate exist, the government shuts down IMF’s operation immediately. Again co-writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (whose “The Usual Suspects” screenplay won him an Oscar) echoes a classic Hollywood thriller: The Albert Hall sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” in which an assassin’s kill shot will be disguised as cymbals clash.

Reprising the role of super spy Ethan Hunt here doesn’t see him emasculated with the same comic payoff (even if he’s outflanked on a few occasions by a beautiful double agent played by Rebecca Ferguson). Before Hunt can be tortured by The Syndicate’s goons and a guy known as Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten), a woman named Isla (Rebecca Ferguson) helps him escape. From there the now reassembled IMF team — including Ving Rhames’ Luther Stickell — goes to Casablanca for a fantastically intricate, literally breathtaking, underwater sequence set in a turbine with a deadly countdown. Just as predictable is the quality of the stuntwork, with those Hunt versus plane opening scenes as impressive as anything you’ve seen on the big screen. Dangling off the side of the Burj Khalifa Skyscraper in Dubai, which stands a mere 2,717 ft tall, the star once again proves there is no substitute for keeping it real.

Trouble is, the gaps in between feel as if they go on forever, while the subsequent assassinations, road chases and edgy break-ins seem second-rate in comparison. Some of the action movie dialogue is delivered with such rigid jaws and steely eyes, it’s like the actors are reading from an autocue for the first time. While no match for its brilliant predecessor, the 2011 “Ghost Protocol,” and marred by the occasional dead-air speech about the Syndicate as a global threat, “Rogue Nation” gets its job done with style. And then there’s Cruise himself, whose off-screen baggage is beginning to look like haulage and whose mission now must be to rebuild his image so we can buy into him once again as an action hero. At one point there’s even a pratfall as Cruise tries to jump over the bonnet of a car and misjudges his leap completely. ‘This can only end badly,’ says Pegg, as they head off on a car chase through the narrow streets of Casablanca. : Impossible – Rogue Nation is a better film for this self critical tone.

Cruise. “All these characters have something, and for me to come in and deliver something to the established cast, it’s quite intimidating and lovely as well. Breaking into the CIA was never going to be an easy mission, and with pressure sensitive floor pads making it almost impossible, Ethan has to lower himself from a ventilation shaft without getting too hot and bothered. It includes several spies trying to outwit each other in the shadowy wings while a singer crescendos through Nessun Dorma in front of a packed house of dignitaries. Someone wants to assassinate the Austrian chancellor in attendance, and Cruise ends up wrestling a thug high above the stage on lighting scaffolds that shift up and down like in a platform videogame, triggered—unwittingly—by Pegg’s character as he hacks a computer system in the basement. The string of edge of your seat action scenes starts with a breaking into an underwater server in Morocco, followed by a car/motorcycle chase down Moroccan streets a little bigger than a high school hallway.

Ferguson’s dance experience was one of the things she used in preparing for her role as Ilsa, although the stunt moves definitely required extra training. “I’ve always liked moving, running, jumping, stunting. Ferguson does a great job selling her character as someone who is able to match wit and skill with the team while constantly seesawing between friend and foe. It’s great to see her not just written in as an unnecessary pretty face, but as a character that wants in on the action and has their own motivations. Ferguson is gearing up for two more movies. “Despite the Falling Snow,” slated to be released later this year, features her in dual roles as Katya and Lauren in the Cold War story of a female spy who falls in love with an idealistic politician in Moscow.

She also is working on “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which stars Meryl Streep in the titular role of the socialite/opera singer, and Hugh Grant as her partner and manager St. Instead of bad guys with no personality or nameless/faceless organizations, we’re treated to an antihero with motivations that are easy to understand.

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