Simon Pegg talks Mission Impossible and how Tom Cruise stays so fit

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ review: Best of the series.

With the new “Mission: Impossible” movie, even if it’s the most assured and satisfying of the five so far, it sounds foolish to even mention the things the characters say in between screeching tires, gunfights, knife fights, motorcycle derring-do, and the opening act featuring Tom Cruise dangling for real (real enough to make it look cool, and frightening) on the outside of a plane high over a Belarus airstrip. To enhance his drop by, Cruise’s spirited Q & A with fans after a Rogue Nation Canadian premiere at Scotiabank Theatre was simulcast to 19 other Cineplex locations across Canada. Three years later, they’ve teamed up again on the best action movie of the summer, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” Like the “Mission: Impossible” TV series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, the movie sets up much of what you’re going to see during a snappy credits sequence. At what age would Cruise consider saying goodbye to the film franchise, which began in the summer of 1996? “I’m thinking about 90, then I’ll cap it off. At one point a character describes Cruise’s Ethan Hunt as an unstoppable force of destiny in such wittily florid terms, it’s like a love letter crossed with a term paper, dropped into a spy movie.

The first four movies earned more than $2 billion US world-wide, and Rogue Nation is tracking well enough to continue the box-office momentum. “Mission is a series I know really well but it doesn’t make it any easier,” he said of Rogue Nation. Those of us who still prize McQuarrie’s Oscar-winning script for “The Usual Suspects” know he likes to explain mysteries as he goes along, saving the big reveal for the final reel. That’s especially true “because there’s a tricky structure on this story.” In the special-effects-laden action flick, Cruise’s spy Ethan Hunt reunites with key team members; Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rames) who was absent in Ghost Protocol.

He plays fair with the viewer, except for a ludicrous sequence at the Vienna State Opera. (“Turandot” goes blithely on, despite assassinations and audible hand-to-hand combat in the wings.) And he doesn’t turn this story into a star vehicle for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, who shares the laurels with others. The action stunt has indeed been the focus of the film’s marketing campaign for the last several months, with as much emphasis offered via marketing materials as the Burj Khalifa sequence in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, the train/helicopter chase in the original Mission: Impossible, and the climactic motorcycle chase in Mission: Impossible II.

Now it’s hot again, thanks to Cruise, who hired McQuarrie for “Jack Reacher” and then to rewrite the troubled (and ultimately entertaining) science fiction thriller “Edge of Tomorrow.” As a storyteller McQuarrie is smart enough to treat each character as the smartest person in any given room, in his or her own way. Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson steals the picture as British agent Ilsa Faust, proving Hunt’s equal in cunning and combat and remaining an enigma up to the end. “M:I” veterans Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg all have significant supporting roles, and Alec Baldwin turns up as an MI-hating CIA boss forced to eat his harsh words. Even the disposable goons in “Rogue Nation” are rewarded with a line or two betraying some verifiable human intelligence before they get scissor-kicked in the face. I fly aerobatics,” he said. “Whatever I can do to really put the audience in the scene with the character and in the movie, that’s what I want, so whatever it takes.

I never did understand why villainous Solomon (Sean Harris) changed sides, or how he convinced so many agents to join him – money, I suppose, though I had no idea who supplied it when the government that hired him stopped footing the bills. That aside, I questioned nothing, enjoyed McQuarrie’s ingenuity in construction, smiled occasionally at the jokes and admired Ferguson’s performance as the most interesting femme fatale in the series.

At this point, Cruise (a buff 53, showing a few crow’s feet but ideally cast) is playing an unconquerable superman, a megalomaniac willing to risk the lives of countless people because he believes in his own infallibility. Baldwin’s character even delivers a monologue about Hunt’s magnificence: He can break any code, disguise himself as anyone else, win any fight, enter any guarded domain. This leaves Hunt and the gang without the leeway they need to capture the vicious head of an international terrorist syndicate known, expediently, as The Syndicate.

They’re incredible, top to bottom, these guys.” Regarding his plane stunt, Cruise confessed to Jimmy Fallon Monday night, “I didn’t tell my family or friends or anyone I was doing it beforehand. In another harrowing scene, the actor is strapped to a huge Airbus A400M cargo plane for take off (and landing and flying in between more than 900 metres in the air – for eight takes). And yet it is merely a footnote in the narrative, a fun gag to reestablish the team and put you back in the world of Ethan Hunt and his impossible missions. By focusing so much marketing energy into this relatively irrelevant scene, Paramount/Viacom Inc. have allowed audiences to walk into Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation relative blind this weekend.

I want to entertain you!” In another scene, Cruise’s character has to dive into an underwater safe to retrieve the computer chip that will lead him closer to The Syndicate. More succinctly, he added: “I want to put you in the film and on the edge of your seat.” However, the director admitted to being anxious during the filming of the airplane stunt, nervous especially just before the first takeoff when they tried to discuss the sequence but could barely hear each other over the roar of the engines. “It was the first time I broke my leg,” he recalled. “I was doing flips off of a roof onto a snow bank.” When he upped the ante to try a double flip “I landed on the sidewalk.” “He’s someone I have a tremendous amount of admiration for … I love movies and so does he,” Cruise said of McQuarrie who did some uncredited rewrites on Ghost Protocol. Harris makes an excellent adversary, smart and ruthless and a bit twitchy, He alone takes no part in the stunts; evil geniuses never enjoy getting their hands dirty. (That’s how we know action heroes can defeat them. Rebecca Ferguson, Swedish-born, makes a formidable addition to the team (sub-group: “frenemy”) in the role of a British spy working every side of every street with her mad fighting skills and inevitable if extremely cautious interest in Cruise’s Hunt. “Rogue Nation” has only a fleeting, theoretical interest in sex. A guy who can’t take a punch can’t take over a world.) It’s worth noting that the “M:I” franchise has employed five separate directors over 19 years: Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J.

It’s more interested in Cruise, running, or Cruise, leaping, or Cruise, holding his breath underwater for a long time, in a genuinely tense tour-de-force. Then, in an underwater set that was filled 20-feet high with water, he had to hold his breath for six minutes. “The takes are really long,” Cruise said on The Tonight Show, explaining that he “had to train beyond it” because “when you go to shoot, I have to take the regulator out, get on the side of this set underwater, then the camera comes in place and then we call action. However, it’s Cruise’s determined drive that has kept the Mission franchise running since 1996’s Mission: Impossible, a film that launched him into the grown-up zone.

MGM heavily advertised what was the opening stunt sequence in GoldenEye back in 1995, highlighting the “James Bond rides a motorcycle off a cliff and catches a crashing plane in mid-air” bit. The IMF oversight committee cites “wanton brinksmanship” as the reason for closing down the “throwback” that is the IMF. “Rogue Nation” revels in both those qualities. Walt Disney and Marvel smartly highlighted the brief Iron Man 3 moment where Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts wore the Iron Man suit in order to sneak a massive mid-film plot twist right under our noses. It’s daring of McQuarrie, in a big-budget internationally financed action picture such as this, to turn over a fair amount of narrative acreage to a lengthy, methodical scene cutting between a performance of Puccini’s “Turandot” and not one, not two, but three assassins lurking in the opera house wings. Lest we mistake “Rogue Nation” for Graham Greene, there’s a Moroccan car chase leading into a motorcycle chase leading into a telling moment of betrayal.

In this obsessive “must know everything now” era, Paramount had a trump card in their media-friendly action stunt sequence that only seemed like the film’s centerpiece but actually existed in the first five minutes. So they milked that sucker for all it was worth, offering clips and featurettes and images of that sequence which allowed the various other action scenes in Christopher McQuarrie’s comic thriller, including a superb mid-film heist of sorts, to go relatively unspoiled. The opening gambit with the plane recalls Sean Connery atop the moving locomotive in the ’70s adventure “The Great Train Robbery.” For whatever sick reason, we enjoy seeing our stars in some degree of actual physical peril. But I gave Paramount no little grief for the Terminator Genisys campaign earlier this month, so I thought I’d take a moment to tip my hat for a job well done.

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