Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation thrills, but Tom Cruise’s hero is hollow

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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.

Interspersed with spectacular action sequences and exotic locations are a beautiful if deadly female agent, a semi-comprehensible plot and soaring riffs on Lalo Schifrin’s theme music — its only connection at this point with the TV series that was its original inspiration. “Rogue Nation” opens as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must destroy a military cargo plane in Belarus by jumping on a wing and holding tight.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.

Arrive late to “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” and you will miss the much-heralded sequence where Tom Cruise is strapped to the side of a military transport plane as it takes off and he holds on for dear life. 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). 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. 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.

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. 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. We may occasionally reduce him to a Scientology-obsessed nut, but that’s just because it’s easy and cynical, two things that the entertainment news cycle relies on. 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. It not only knows who Ethan is but also traps and tortures him, shackling him, turning him into a human punching bag and introducing him to the “Bone Doctor,” who doesn’t mend bones but cracks and crunches them.

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. As all this is happening, the imperious CIA director (Alec Baldwin) tells a Senate committee that the force should be dissolved and its operations absorbed by the CIA. 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.

Cruise along with returning cast mates Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames — will not go quietly or at all if they have anything to do with it. The fact that Cruise never slips into leading man complacency – always insisting on working with the top filmmakers, always developing intense rehearsal procedures for stunts that should very well end him – is also what keeps his improbable Mission: Impossible brand afloat. Based on a mostly forgotten TV show, each entry in the franchise is essentially a facsimile of the other: There’s the hunt for a MacGuffin, an exotic beauty who tempts Cruise’s Ethan Hunt into trouble (although never sexually), a threat to dismantle the IMF agency and a generic villain who purports to be Hunt’s equal, but never warrants even half his attention (the only exception to this last rule is Mission: Impossible III, because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s delightful sociopath). Yet, each M:I film is its own unique thrill ride, largely thanks to Cruise’s non-stop charisma and fierce dedication to being the best implausibly talented spy he can be. (And before you ask: Yes, I will even go to bat for John Woo’s second entry, a wildly weird exercise in genre extremes.) The series continues its surprising streak in this latest entry, nonsensically subtitled Rogue Nation.

Like the series’ previous films, Rogue Nation is broken down into three parts – the set up for the team’s mission, the impossible mission, and the finale. 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.

Anyone who’s stepped outside their home in the past few months will have already seen the image of Cruise hanging from the outside of a moving plane, Rogue Nation’s signature visual. The story provides no shortage of candidates and motivations and almost wall-to-wall taut action worthy of its Imax option along with TV touchstones of a message that will self-destruct and disguises impossible to discern from the real thing. 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. The same goes for Cruise’s other brushes with on-screen death, including a frantic motorcycle chase through the streets of Morocco, a taut cat-and-mouse game behind the scenes of a Vienna opera and an underwater plunge to the most improbable data-storage facility in the world (during which he reportedly held his breath for six minutes, which is as crazy as it sounds).

During filming of the fourth M:I film, whose subtitle of Ghost Protocol is still the series’ best joke, it was rumoured that Renner was being groomed to take over the franchise. McQuarrie to a changing roster of directors, a rotating crop of women who increasingly are more than eye candy and a group of fast friends who worry that some day, Ethan will take things too far. 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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