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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – Joint Review

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 31 July 2015 [USA]
 
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
 
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie - Drew Pearce
 
Cast: Tom Cruise - Rebecca Ferguson - Jeremy Renner - Simon Pegg
 


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Posted August 3, 2015 by

 
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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – Joint Review

Michael’s Perspective:

Ethan Hunt’s antics have caught up with him and the IMF’s been left in hot water. The operation has been wrapped and absorbed by the CIA. Hunt is left out in the cold, unsupported whilst in the middle of a crucial investigation; one concerning an international terrorist organisation known as “the Syndicate”. No one else will acknowledge their existence until Hunt turns up irrefutable proof. He’s hunted by his countrymen and shadowed by a beautiful enigma of an assassin, all the while racing to stop “the Syndicate” from performing their next act of terror.

Minor Spoilers Ahoy.

It’s to the movie’s detriment that its poster boy stunt, with Cruise strapped to a plane hanging on for dear life, occurs during the first scene. It’s a sure sign of the pace problems to come.

Hunt the fifth time around is the most devoid of character yet. While Cruise does little talking, his stunts speak plenty, clearly showing where all the focus has gone this time. The plane scene is stunning, premature or not, and there’s some cracker yet quiet brawling at the Vienna Opera.

The cast has been described as a Mission Impossible – Greatest Hits, with Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner working with Ving Rhames in the field for the first time. Pegg delivers some laughs and reacts to the explosive goings-on in, when compared to everyone else, the most believable way. Renner and Rhames don’t do much though. Renner takes a lot of guff from Alec Baldwin’s bureaucratic bore Hunley while Rhames is beginning to look too old for this shit. Sean Harris as shifty Brit villain Solomon Lane is simply not intimidating, appearing more like a weasel with a hoarse accent. Rebecca Ferguson however is Rogue Nation’s strongest asset. Her scowl is Lauren Bacall-like and she kicks buckets of ass.

The movie visits classic espionage locales but jumps all over them action-happy. Casablanca witnesses a great car chase, though it ends with some ridiculously bad CGI. London looks set in the 1960’s, red phone boxes and dark cobbled alleys in abundance. The eerie feel is extinguished by shoot-outs and knife-fights. It seems Jason Bourne has found himself in le Carre Land. Also, Rogue Nation has some of the most ludicrous moments in Mission Impossible yet. Hunt, who is a mere mortal, can survive being smashed around a plane, flung from a speeding bike and is able to race a BMW after literally being dead for several minutes. The gadgets have gone completely sci-fi too, with smartphone lockpick apps and opera programmes that double as laptops.

Back to pace. Great action set pieces fuel the first two thirds of the movie but the final third gets bogged down in quagmire plot. It’s only when Mission Impossible Rogue Nation slows down that it starts coming apart at the seams. There are hints of sub-plot that are never followed through. While Hunt is on the loose his friends are forced to answer for his actions. When reunited, Hunt is never reprimanded on this. Also, he obsesses over bringing down the Syndicate to the point where his comrades worry that this is less a mission and more a personal vendetta, possibly fueled by delusion. A missed opportunity to inject Hunt with some much needed character and raise the tension with a badly fractured spy team.

All the pieces for a great action-espionage movie are here, pity they weren’t put together better. With a muddy plot that works best travelling at great speed, Rogue Nation requires your sense of disbelief to be working overtime.

Written by:

10990897_947809968572240_8068008592644517359_n

Michael Keyes
Silences Band
@mkjk1990
Full Contributor

 

Jonathan’s Perspective:

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is not a perfect movie. For one thing, there are a few too many scenes in which the good guys simply outrun the bullets. This is especially problematic because those bullets are being fired by professional killers. And then there’s … no, actually that’s about it. That’s pretty much the only flaw in a supremely smart and entertaining action thriller.

Here’s an example of how smart it is. If you’ve seen the trailer, and it’s hard to imagine anyone who has even walked near a movie theatre in the past month not having seen the trailer, you know there’s a seen where IMF super-agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hangs from the door of a jet during take-off waiting for his loveable nerdy colleague Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) to open the plane’s door remotely allowing Ethan to get inside. That scene is actually the climax of the trailer. In the actual movie, it is the opening sequence. Not only does it provide a kick-ass beginning, but by not making you wait for that well-publicized moment, the filmmakers sort of make you a promise: there’s plenty more where that came from.

The MI franchise, much like the TV show that spawned it, has always had a good understanding of just how ludicrous high-stakes spectacle films are, but the films have largely succeeded by walking that tightrope between suspenseful and silly. This movie subverts expectation in so many small ways that it manages to feel fresh even when dealing in the most clichéd of situations.

To recap, Ethan Hunt works for a secret government agency – the Impossible Mission Force, or IMF. He has a couple of loyal friends/colleagues and they roam the world looking for terrorist plots to thwart. But their unorthodox methods run afoul of the powers-that-be, mainly the CIA, and at the beginning of the movie they are vilified and shut down by the ungrateful government they have been risking their lives to defend. There’s nothing much new here. Then there’s the even more secret bad guy group of rogue agents who are intent on destroying the world. Again, nothing earth-shattering.

But if Mission Impossible doesn’t exactly break new ground, it turns over the old ground so well that it makes for a very rewarding couple of hours. This, I suspect, is largely due to the presence of writer/director Chris McQuarrie. McQuarrie’s underutilization in Hollywood over the past two decades is res ipsa loquitur evidence that modern American film doesn’t know what to do with some of its most talented voices. When he burst on the scene twenty years ago, winning an Oscar for his Usual Suspects screenplay, McQuarrie announced himself as a big talent. He followed that up by directing his first feature, the marvelously baroque crime story The Way of the Gun. Though his next two produced screenplays (Valkyrie and The Tourist) faltered, in recent years, he is back to doing what he has generally done: taking a premise that could turn out bad and making it good. Both Jack Reacher (which he also directed) and Edge of Tomorrow (which he scripted) were better than we had a right to expect.

Both also starred Cruise, and the writer and the actor seem to have developed an affinity for each other’s work. Cruise is getting a little too old to play Ethan Hunt, and McQuarrie on several occasions puts him in positions where that age seems to be catching up with him, including one moment in which Hunt tries to pull off one of his patented slides over a car and falls flat on his face. But Cruise can capture the mania barely hidden in Ethan, and the smug humor when he knows he is holding the winning cards. It is not the actor’s best work, but it is great fun to watch.

There are plenty of twists and turns, potential double-crosses, and stand-out action sequences. There’s a very engaging turn from Pegg as the comic relief, and good work from Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, a double, or perhaps triple-agent, running on tracks parallel to Ethan. There is even a pretty good performance from Alex Baldwin as the director of the CIA. One of McQuarrie’s greatest coups is getting Baldwin to speak in a quiet voice, even when agitated. This is something the actor has had a hard time doing of late. (see Aloha. Actually, don’t. Just take my word for it.)

Rogue Nation is not particularly concerned with deep political philosophy. It’s not hard to see that the whole thing is predicated upon the idea that in order to catch a rogue you must be a rogue. That can be heady material for those wishing to debate the merits of transparency and covert operations. But McQuarrie doesn’t go there, which again is probably a smart decision. That moral quicksand would have most likely weighted down the entire enterprise.

Instead he gives us this: toward the end of the second act, as the good guys debate one hopeless plan after another, Ilsa suggests to Ethan that they just run away together. She tells him there will always be bad guys like the one they are fighting. And there will always be good guys like them to step up and do the right thing. They’ve put in their time and have earned the right to walk away. You can’t help but hear this as a subtle statement about these types of madman-destroying-the-world stories that supply the life blood of the modern thriller. McQuarrie is smart enough to know that he can’t rewrite the rulebook. He can just execute the boilerplate better than just about anyone else in the world.

Written By:

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 15.23.06

Jonathan Eig
@rockynrudy
Huffington Post
CurnBlog
Full Contributor

 

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