Tag Archives: mission impossible

Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’

'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation'
‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’
Tom Cruise returns for the fifth adventure in the series, playing a larger-than-life version of himself as action hero and really smart guy.

The first installment in 1996 laid waste to its television show origins, which revolved around a team of espionage agents known as the Impossible Mission Force. A big change was that the heroic Jim Phelps was brought back solely to be exposed as a fraud, a phony, definitely not someone to be emulated. Hand in hand, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was boosted toward superhero status, the unquestioned, clearly superior leader of the team, both in his physical daring and his intellectual abilities.

Since then, the missions have slowly edged into fantasy territory, to the point now that Mr. Hunt can lay down his motorcycle at the conclusion of a high-speed chase, tumble madly in the dirt alongside the highway, and get up again with no visible ill effects. He’s Ethan Hunt! He can do anything!

Accepting that Ethan Hunt is a superhero is essential to the drama that unfolds in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. He discovers that an evil spy organization, called The Syndicate, has developed in the shadows, and they are killing people all over the world. They must be brought to a stop!

Simultaneously, the director of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) has tired of the IMF’s excesses, and hates their ability to operate independently of his control, so he petitions Congress to dissolve the IMF and bring them under his heel. They must be brought to a stop!

Christopher McQuarrie, probably still best known for his Academy Award-winning script for The Usual Suspects in 1996, has steadily built a distinctive reputation as a writer, continuing to work with Bryan Singer (Valkyrie, Jack the Giant Slayer) and, reportedly starting with an uncredited contribution to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise.

McQuarrie has a good understanding of how to write to Cruise’s strengths as an A-list action star. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, everything revolves around his character; he is always the smartest in the room; and, despite his advancing age, he remains the most potent physical force on Earth. The most intriguing aspects of the movie come when there is some question as to whether he is being outsmarted by his new nemesis, played by Sean Harris with his usual finesse and precision.

A mysterious new character, Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), emerges as a possible challenger to Mr. Hunt’s reign as master of the physical universe. She is a woman — as made exploitatively obvious in a brief yet needless swimming pool scene — and is extremely fit and capable, but her morality is in question, since she appears to be a member of The Syndicate. Thus, she is considered to be of lesser character throughout the movie, due to her (feminine?) duplicity.

Mr. Hunt surrounds himself with supporting espionage experts — he only has two arms and two legs, after all — including the return of Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Jeremy Renner, the latter of whom is often stuck in managerial activity this time around. Their primary occupation is admiring Mr. Hunt’s abilities, but McQuarrie injects more humor into their interactions, and demonstrates a good sense of comic timing, which helps keep the movie flowing at a steady pace.

The same can be said about the action sequences, which look spectacular from an overall perspective — a plane taking off! An opera house pursuit with multiple shooters! A thrilling chase through European streets and stairs! A high-speed chase with high-performance motorcycles! And so forth! — although they are often difficult to follow as they unfold; the editing scheme leans too often toward the “cut every ½ second” pattern that has become so annoying in modern action cinema.

Putting those complaints aside, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is an enjoyable ride, offering new scenery to go along with generally sharp dialogue and nifty action scenes. It’s one of the better offerings of the 2015 summer season.

The film opens tonight in theaters throughout Dallas.

Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’

Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' (Paramount)
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' (Paramount)

The fourth installment of the spy series is the best yet, a smashing combination of bravura action sequences, comic jousting, and revenge-minded character drama. And it looks spectacular in IMAX.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a secret agent who begins the movie locked up in an Eastern European prison. Quickly he rejoins former teammate Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), who has qualified for field work during Hunt’s imprisonment, and Jane Carter (Paula Patton), an agent with a score to settle. Their first mission together is to crack the Kremlin in search of something vitally important to national security. Things go wrong, of course, the Kremlin suffers a mighty explosion, and Hunt’s team is framed for the crime.

As a result, the President orders the entire covert Impossible Mission Force (IMF) disavowed, putting the team into “Ghost Protocol.” They are joined by high-level analyst Brant (Jeremy Renner), who only survives a deadly attack thanks to Hunt.

The mechanics of the plot are set up swiftly and efficiently, initially establishing a clear motive for Carter, and later providing motivation for Hunt and Brant. The film goes easy on the melodrama, however, never forgetting that its main mission is to entertain with outlandish action sequences.

Director Brad Bird, who first came to prominence with the terrific and heartwarming animated picture ‘The Iron Giant,’ subsequently won Academy Awards for his work on ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Ratatouille.’ While he may seem an odd choice to helm a big-budget, live-action blockbuster sequel, it makes perfect sense if you consider ‘The Incredibles’ as an action movie.

Like ‘The Incredibles,’ ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ boasts multiple action sequences that are defined by their fluid choreography. We always know who’s involved, where they are in physical relation to each other, and where they are in relation to the geography of the setting. That means the stakes are higher, and it pushes the tension level up, all because we can see clearly what’s happening and we know what will happen if a suspect is lost, for example.

The script, credited to Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (and reportedly based on a treatment by the uncredited J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise), builds on the spy-chase-grab framework with good team interplay. Unlike previous installments, the new movie places a refreshing emphasis on the importance of teamwork — and on the reality of things going wrong from time to time, and the need to improvise in the field. That gives the movie a more humane grounding, even as the action frequently takes flight into the world of unbelievable fantasy.

Yet it’s all convincing, faux-reality in the service of mass-market entertainment, and it never insults the audience. ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ is an unadulterated pleasure.

‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ opens today only in IMAX theaters — which is the preferred format — before expanding wide next Wednesday, December 21 across the Metroplex.