Friday, July 31, 2015

Spy v Spy

I’ve got a theory (and, no, it’s not a demon): If someone was gonna interrupt my holiday from reviewing movies, of course, that person was gonna be Tom Cruise.

And so here I am, ready to tell you all about what I liked best about Cruise’s fifthquel Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Directed by our star’s current favored go-to guy, Christopher McQuarrie, the movies an almost-direct sequel to Brad Bird’s franchise-rejuvenating 2011 blockbuster entry, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which notoriously featured Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai like it was no big deal (such a boss!). And it kicks things off with Cruise nowhere in sight.

Simon Pegg, who’d be Mission: Impossible  Rogue Nation’s runaway scene-stealer had his tech wiz Benji Dunn not been introduced in part four, is the first character we see; Jeremy Renner’s Brandt, the cucumber-cool analyst the world Cruise naysayers were thinking would take over this sweet 19-year-old franchise if Cruise didn’t regain some of his old-fashioned Cruise Control and applied to himself, is the first one we hear. Ving Rhames’ Luther Stickell’s also on the scene (oh...Luther’s back!).

All these familiar, welcome faces are on a mission that’s about to turn impossible, as they have to keep an Airbus cargo plane from taking off with some bad-looking cargo. And they seem to be failing. Looks like they’re going at it alone.

Oh, there goes the plane.... It’s taxiing away. Fast.

Before you can start guessing when Cruise’s Ethan Hunt will turn up, in he comes, owning the screen like only Cruise can these days. Ethans got a plan because he’s a man, an IMF agent, who always has a plan. He’s the one who sees it all.

Just like Cruise, a man who, if he knows anything at all, that’s what these movies are and what they should be. And that is a heckuva lot of fun.

Mission: Impossible  Rogue Nation is a throwback to its own origins and to its being. This one some of you will appreciate because it feels the most like Brian De Palma’s 1996 original (I know I did); it’s got that espio-vibe...complete with a femme fatale with nebulous allegiances played by the positively Bergman-esque Swedish newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (her name? Ilsa), and even its centerpiece mission feels like a salute to that one Langley.

Another of the movie’s set major pieces (all of which I loved because they played it quite economically as far as dialogue and exposition are concerned – McQuarrie obviously subscribes to the school of show me, don’t tell me) is a high-speed chase through Casablanca and, duh, an homage to John Woo’s sequel, while like, an actual rabbit’s foot tips its hat to J.J. Abrams’ threequel.

Cruise is the reason. He is the reason why I bought a ticket on opening day for this. He is the reason these movies are the massive success that they all around the world. And he is the reason that you buy Ethan Hunt going on all these adventures, facing these crazy foes, such as the Syndicate this time around. They are an anti-IMF group overseen by a dangerously anti-Ethan Hunt Bondsian (!) baddie that just may a figment of Ethan’s imagination (this per Alec Baldwin’s CIA director-character).

What is clear, though is that you will enjoy these spy games. You can bank on it just as you can always bank on Cruise. No matter what he does off screen, he delivers on it. These are his missions: possible. And he always comes out from ’em the winner.

Bet on him and you will, too.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Paramount Pictures.

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