‘Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation’ Review: High-Level Action

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘Vacation’ Hits the Road Wednesday With So-So $3.8M.

1. I don’t know about impossible, but given that it’s taken almost 20 years to churn out five instalments of this series – something the early Bond franchise managed in six years, and the 1960s M:I TV show in just six weeks – these missions are certainly a lot of work.Actor Tom Cruise arrives for the Canadian premiere of the film Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in Toronto on July 27, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press) He’s scaled the tallest building in the world and clambered across a perilous cliff face, all for the sake of a role.Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie builds on the spectacular/visceral approach Brad Bird employed to such solid effect four years ago in “M:I — Ghost Protocol.” This is only McQuarrie’s third feature after a long career as a screenwriter (“The Usual Suspects,” the lamentable “The Tourist”).OK, so Ethan Hunt isn’t James Bond and the Impossible Missions Force isn’t MI6, but the “MI” films are essentially Bond movies, with a touch of “Bourne” and a whole lot of Tom Cruise doing what he does best—looking about 15 years younger than his true age (Cruise recently turned 53), performing harrowing stunts, engaging in clever banter with his adversaries, and doing it all with just the hint of a smirk that tells us even when it appears certain Mr.

It took Lalo Schifrin all of three minutes to write his famed theme — set to an unusual 5/4 time signature — for the TV series “Mission: Impossible.” “Orchestration’s not the problem for me,” he says. “It’s like writing a letter. Then again, given that the least popular still managed to take in more than $130-million in North America alone, it’s remission impossible until Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, 53 but still nowhere near the old-guy style of action-hero roles) or the series makes a serious financial misstep. But he has enjoyed a long association with Tom Cruise, writing both “Valkyrie” and “Edge of Tomorrow” and directing him in “Jack Reacher.” Now, in “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” the obvious comfort level between star and director pays off nicely. It came in behind fellow New Line comedy We’re the Millers, which took in $6.8 million on its first Wednesday in summer 2013 on its way to a five-day gross of $37.9 million. The idea started off as a joke from the film’s director, Christopher McQuarrie, but Cruise (who is also a trained pilot) ran with the idea as he reprised his iconic role as secret agent Ethan Hunt in the latest instalment. “Months later, there I am hammering down the runway and I was thinking ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,'” Cruise told CBC News recently at the new thriller’s Toronto premiere.

McQuarrie announces his intentions with the opening sequence — already heavily publicized through the film’s marketing campaign — that finds Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging on for dear life outside a huge military transport plane as it takes off. (There’s something important inside that Ethan doesn’t want the bad guys to have, dontcha know.) Unable to stop the takeoff by hacking into the plane’s electronics, Ethan has no choice but to ride the big bird like that gremlin in the old “Twilight Zone” episode. And that’s the way it came.” “I was in Vienna and at a press conference and one lady asked me why I wrote ‘Mission: Impossible’ in 5/4 . . .

Vacation, starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth, hoped to hit $30 million for the five days, but, based on Wednesday, returns may not get there. Each has a different director, and different settings, and different characters—Cruise and Ving Rhames are the only constants—and each takes on the style and personality of its director. Brian DePalma’s 1996 original was stylish and borderline nonsensical; John Woo’s 2000 sequel was wildly over the top, yet still a ridiculous blast; J.J.

Much of the action plays out as though screenwriters Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) and Christopher McQuarrie (Edge of Tomorrow) sat down and designed the most improbable, inescapable booby trap they could manage, then reverse-engineered Hunt’s getaway. The 53-year-old actor is known for pulling off his own stunts rather than relying on CGI or stuntmen and, in this fifth instalment of the Mission Impossible series, he sets out to prove he’s still got it. In short order, Hunt’s colleagues Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) are under Huntley’s thumb — and Hunt is on the run.

The people in outer space have five legs and couldn’t dance to our music, so I wrote this for them.’ ” “The lady believed it,” says Schifrin with a laugh, “and all the magazines in Vienna published it . . . my European agent called me and said, ‘What are you trying to do?!’ ” The fifth installment of the “Mission: Impossible” film franchise is now in theaters, and Schifrin’s score is as integral to the flicks as Tom Cruise’s arsenal of shades. “Bruce Geller, who was the producer of the series, put together the pilot and came to me and said, ‘I want you to write something exciting, something that when people are in the living room and go into the kitchen to have a soft drink, and they hear it, they will know what it is. Abrams’ 2006 installment was more old-school Spielbergian popcorn entertainment; and Brad Bird’s 2011 entry was a glorious cartoon come to life, with some truly inspired set pieces and stunts. You could argue that all action-movie scripts follow this formula; there are no actual volcanic lairs, Maze Runner labyrinths or Shawshank prisons out of which to break. Cruise underwent wind and speed simulations to prepare for the scene – filmed eight times to capture the needed angles – that had him barreling down a runway while clinging to the door of an Airbus A400. “Of course, there was the cold, and I couldn’t wear long underwear because there was the suit. Ethan must foil an elaborate assassination attempt during opening night at the Vienna State Opera (clearly inspired by a similar setup in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much”).

I want it to be identifiable, recognizable and a signature.’ And this is what I did.” Schifrin’s path to becoming one of the most-sought-after composers in Hollywood started in Argentina, where he grew up with his mother and late father, concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires. Earlier this summer, Magic Mike XXL earned $9.3 million when launching on Wednesday, although that film had the advantage of opening on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend. But the big set piece in Rogue Nation – a computer control centre housed inside a whirlpool and then buried beneath a power plant – feels particularly egregious. Hunt has discovered a network of rogue agents, called the Syndicate, who have embraced a terrorist agenda under the leadership of the merciless and methodical Lane (Sean Harris). Juan Perón, then president of Argentina, forbade the import of American records, but a young Schifrin, whose interest in jazz was growing, befriended an American merchant marine who snuck in records for the musician.

So many Hollywood action movies have so many hands on the steering wheel that spectacle outweighs awe; they’re so compromised and communal, serving so many masters, that they can feel like confused platforms for product placement blasted 50 feet high and screaming into your ears. Though early reviews have been positive, Rogue Nation faces immense pressure to live up to the previous films, which have grossed more than $2 billion U.S. worldwide. “You’re thinking ‘I have to top the last movie. He must hold his breath underwater for, like, four minutes to break into a computer data storage facility deep below the Moroccan desert. (Not to be a killjoy, but where did all that water come from? The great Alec Baldwin hams it up nicely as Hunley, the gruff and fantastically clueless head of the CIA, who forces the IMF out of existence because that’s what gruff and clueless government bureaucrats do in movies like this. Marking screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s directorial debut, Vacation centers on Rusty Griswold (Helms), now an adult, who takes his own family on a road trip to Walley World.

Besides, it’s basically the computer-vault scene from the very first Mission: Impossible movie, only louder, faster and (you’ll recall in that one how Hunt produced a single bead of sweat that almost undid his efforts) much, much wetter. Hunt’s efforts to defeat the Syndicate depend on working with the IMF, including erstwhile teammate Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), on the sly — and enlisting the help of Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a British agent who may or may not be trustworthy.

Hunt has to log into this waterlogged system to reprogram a “gait analysis” security system to allow his confederate Benji (Simon Pegg) to steal a microchip that contains vital information needed to stop a bespectacled baddie (Sean Harris) from committing – wait, where was I? Just because IMF has been disbanded doesn’t mean Hunt will relent in his pursuit of the Syndicate, a mysterious (and some say purely mythical) organization of former good-guy operatives now working in the shadows to spread evil and blow things up and kidnap world leaders and BRING THE WORLD TO ITS KNEES, BAHAHAHAHAHA!

Rebecca Ferguson does stellar work as the beautiful, deadly and alluring Ilsa Faust, an agent who also might be a double agent and could even be a double-DOUBLE agent. They are, thus, obviously the creation of Cruise, who famously is the hardest-working leading man in the history of the medium. (If you doubt this, he’ll be happy to remind you.) The guy is a lunatic, but he is our lunatic. Off the radar and hunted by their own countrymen, Ethan and Benji continue to circle the globe investigating the shadowy Syndicate, a cabal of one-time spies from around the world now led by a creepy former Brit spook (Sean Harris).

His compulsive, almost oppressive need to entertain us may have turned him into a simulacrum of a human being who no longer can relate to other individuals in any meaningful fashion, but it’s impossible to argue that his crazy lifelong quest has actually failed to entertain us. He’s got the requisite evil haircut and a voice that must have required six weeks with a de-elocution coach, and he’s playing cat-and-mice with Hunt and the enigmatic, deadly Ilsa Faust. Even when he’s in bad movies, he has no idea he’s in a bad movie, or at least never acts like it: Cruise is incapable of winking at the camera and separating himself from what’s going on around him. This isn’t cool anymore, of course—half the job of actors today seems to be silently commenting to the audience on the performance they’re currently giving—and Cruise, along with all his other eccentricities, is pegged as what the cynical call a “try-hard,” as if there were something actually wrong with putting the time and effort to maximize your abilities in your chosen field.

If there’s anyone out there who thinks they might not bring down the Syndicate, I’d like to talk to you about surefire investments in Florida real estate. At times the deception and the intrigue and the twists and turns make it nearly impossible to follow every detail of the plot, but even when things get muddled, we know Ethan’s our hero, and we know we’ll eventually learn the true intentions of Ilsa and the rest of the players. It’s a great film in an entirely different way, though, precise and controlled rather than unhinged, hitting familiar notes in new ways rather than striving for something truly original and unlike anything we’ve seen before. Playing: SilverCity Ancaster, SilverCity Burlington, Jackson Square, SilverCity Oakville, Oakville Mews Encore, SilverCity Hamilton Mountain, 5 Drive-In Theatre (Oakville), Starlite Drive-In

Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for his The Usual Suspects script, is tight with Cruise these days (he directed this and the lesser Jack Reacher), and he pumps up the stakes with a twisting, taut thriller that feels like a John LeCarre espionage mystery, except moving at 1,000 mph. And in a year brimming with spy stories – Kingsman came out in February, Spy last month, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. next, and Spectre in the fall – you need to bring your A game to stand out. Played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, she’s essentially the British version of Hunt, an ultra-competent agent whose loyalties are never quite clear and whose intelligence and capability is never questioned.

Ferguson’s cool, elusive nature is a perfect contrast to Cruise’s manic kineticism; she’s an actress I wasn’t previously familiar with, and one I suspect we’ll be watching for a long time. 5. There isn’t the whiz-bang Brad Bird zaniness of the last film: This is more European, a sleek, precise thriller that builds its set pieces meticulously and metes out information judiciously before knocking you over. And lest you think this movie’s too cerebral, there’s a motorcycle chase that tops the also-fantastic one in Furious 7, but doesn’t need endless CGI to do it. (The scene also ends with a visual punchline that provides the movie’s biggest laugh.) Credit for all this has to go to Cruise.

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