Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Cinema: Mission:Impossible Rogue Nation

It was a lovely Monday night with an early screening of Paramount's 5th chapter in their successful spy franchise Mission:Impossible. The globe trotting espionage thrillers have dealt with classified lists, world threatening viruses, arms dealers and bombing of the Kremlin. This time out, Rogue Nation deals with The Syndicate, an anti-IMF or the Impossible Missions Force, Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) gang of world saving super spies that now includes computer whiz Benji (Simon Pegg), hacker Luther (Ving Rhames) and younger agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner). Spies thought dead from all over the world have seemingly banded together to fight the authorities and governments that created them. Hunt keeps running into Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), a mysterious woman running in the same dangerous circles.

Written and directed by The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher's Christopher McQuarrie with a script assist from Drew Pearce, it's unsurprising that Rogue plays things pretty straight in a surprisingly character and simple plot driven piece. While the story takes place in Vienna, London and Morroco, things are far from the slick and shiny previous chapters. The action is limited to a few giant set pieces that are more for showing off some harrowing and incredibly well executed stunts involving planes, motorcycles, cars and crashes than showing off explosions. Cruise gets to mix it up a bit in a few tactical meets near unbelievable ninja jumping fights and does more than a couple standing drop kicks. There's bits of humor sprinkled throughout and the supporting cast is terrific. Alec Baldwin shows up as a CIA official in a bit of a throwback to his role as Jack Ryan from The Hunt From Red October. Cruise is his usual dependable self, the guy doesn't give shabby performances or turn up in bad movies. Newcomer to me Ferguson was an excellent mix of beauty and strength while I was left trying to remember if Renner did any action in Ghost Protocol because he doesn't do anything physical here.

While Rogue Nation played out low key, I was a little thrown off by the poor quality of some of the digital shots looking very fuzzy, dusty and blurry. There was less action than I expected but the film keeps you interested as twists, turns and reveals are made in the slow burning summer thriller that seems more oriented for adults than teens on a Friday night. It's like the Jack Reacher version of Mission: Impossible. Now I feel like going back and rewatching the series...put on some coffee.

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