Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation wastes little time jumping straight into the action. Well, there’s also jumping, and running, and a sniper roll tossed in for good measure. All of which culminates with Tom Cruise’s character, IMF agent, Ethan Hunt, grabbing onto the side of an airplane as it takes off with a payload of nerve gas along with the terrorists hell bent on using it to do bad things.

You know, cause they’re a-holes.

It was an awesome opening scene and set the stage for an awesome, action-packed two hours.

Lets talk about Tom Cruise for a second.

That’s actually him dangling from the side of the airplane as it takes off1 No stunt double or special effects needed.

As is the case with every movie he does, Cruise is hell bent on performing all his own stunts. He famously hung from the side of a cliff in the opening scene of Mission Impossible II. Not to be outdone he upped the ante in Ghost Protocol (movie #4 in the series) and dangled from the side of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

I think it’s safe to say Cruise isn’t scared of heights.

And while guys like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ahnuld, Vin Diesel, Sylvester Stallone, and Jason Statham get all the love for being the A-list action heroes at present – punching, kicking, shooting, and flexing their way to box office domination – no one ever mentions Cruise.

And yet there he is climbing buildings, hanging off planes, doing all of his own stunt driving, not to mention all his own fight stunts, including stuff like this:

It’s rather impressive to watch him do the things he does. At age 50. Motherfucker better get an invite to be in the next Expendables movie.

Personal life aside – trying really hard not to insert Scientology joke here – it’s perplexing to me that Cruise isn’t considered an action star, much less a “good” actor. True, outside of some of his earlier movies (Top Gun, The Firm) none of his movies outside of the MI franchise have been huge successes domestically.

It was announced recently that plans are in the works to make a Jack Reacher 2. 17 people saw that movie here in the States. I was one of them. It wasn’t a bad movie. Certainly not great. But a decent action thriller, and Cruise did his fair share of busting up some faces. It didn’t make a lot of money here in the U.S, but internationally it made a metric shit-ton (which, FYI, is a little more than a metric boat-load).

No question Cruise is a bonafide star in America. But he’s box office royalty around the world. Hence why movies like Jack Reacher 2 get green lit.

Personally I’m not one who places a lot of weight on how “good” or “bad” a movie is on how much money it makes at the box office. I mean, Paul Blart: Mall Cop hit #1 and made over $100 million back in the day. Movie studios keep allowing Adam Sandler to make movies. So, it’s clear we don’t give a fuck.

Box office notwithstanding, I find it odd more people haven’t watched Cruise’s performance in Magnolia (a role that won him a Golden Globe) and given him more props as a dramatic actor.

Or watched him in Tropic Thunder (that’s him playing the ostentatious movie exec, Less Grossman, another supporting role he was nominated a Golden Globe for) and were in awe of his comedic talent.

I feel Vanilla Sky is one of the most UNDER-rated movies he’s ever made. The same with Collateral. Both are amazing performances by Cruise. And, whatever, Eyes Wide Shut is good too. Because, boobies.

Which bring us, finally, to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The 5th iteration in the series, and frankly, going in, I felt it wouldn’t hold a candle to Ghost Protocol.

It did.

Written and directed by the series’ 5th director, Christopher McQuarrie2, who has an extensive history with Cruise having written Edge of Tomorrow (another VASTLY underrated movie), Valkyrie, and Jack Reacher (of which he also directed), Rogue Nation follows Ethan Hunt and his freshly minted disbanded team of IMF agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) as they try to identify and destroy the evil rogue organization, the Syndicate, lead by disavowed former MI6 agent, Solomon Lane (played by Sean Harris, pictured below).

To compound things, the CIA (led by Alec Baldwin) is after Ethan and his team to bring them in – shoot to kill! – to put a halt to their shenanigans and to answer for all the destruction they’ve caused. Moreover Ethan himself has to figure out whether or not he can trust double agent, Isla Faust (played by relative newcomer, badass, and scene stealer, Rebecca Ferguson) who, even though has helped save Ethan’s life multiple times, may or may not be in cahoots with the Syndicate.

Anyone who’s a fan of the franchise will appreciate the various locations (London, Morocco, Vienna, to name a few), the technology and gadgets (clarinets turned into guns), the smart dialogue, the impossibleness made possible, and of course the action.

In a more “realistic” nod to common sense, there’s a point in the movie where Hunt and Faust are trying to escape a precarious situation and are being chased by the police. She stops and takes off her high heels.

[Anyone who saw Jurassic World this past summer will note a point of contention and high ridicule when Bryce Dallas Howard’s character spent half the movie running away from T-Rex’s in high heels.]

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is everything who’d expect in a summer blockbuster. It’s smart, it’s sexy, and while there aren’t any zombies, there’s enough action to keep any action junky satisfied. More importantly the franchise itself doesn’t seem to be losing any ground or steam in terms of delivering. See you when round six comes out.

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  1. Apparently it took ten days and eight attempts to shoot this scene – and the plane, at times, reached as high as 5000 feet.

  2. McQuarrie also wrote The Usual Suspects, so he’s is already the shit in my book.

  • Grace

    Bryce Dallas Howard, not Jessica Chastain

    • TonyGentilcore

      Dammit. You’re TOTALLY right. Fixing now. Brain fart.

  • Theresa

    I’ve always liked most of Cruise’s movies and this one was just as expected. A really fun 2+hours of movie watching. One of the best parts, Rebecca Ferguson has muscles!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Lisa and I felt the same way about Rebecca. It was nice to see someone who didn’t look like she weighed all of 92lb beating up men 4x her size.

      She was impressive.

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  • Mike Sinicropi

    I give Cruise credit he has remained relevant in a Hollywood where now having a six pack abs and the acting ability of a piece of wood is the recipe for a star (Channing Tatum, Talbot Lautner). Cruise has legit acting chops which are evident in movies like Risky Business, All the right moves, Legend and probably my favorite movie of his The Color of Money (opposite Paul Newman). These movies I think started him on his path of becoming a bonafide sex symbol.

    The Mission Impossible (MI) series has really cemented his place as a legit action star. As you mentioned Collateral and Jack Reacher are both solid movies (I think Collateral was better). Yet I think these franchises get stale overtime and I think MI is way past stale and in the moldy stage. Personally, I don’t think cruise will ever win an Oscar because I don’t think at his age he is willing to place himself out of his comfort zone anymore. I think he is satisfied with where his career and legacy are and I don’t expect anything unexpected from Cruise going forward.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I don’t find the MI series stale at all. JJ Abrams I felt did an amazing job re-energizing the series with MI: 3, and I’d argue that Ghost Protocol (directed by Brad Bird) is the best of the lot.

      It’s smart action, which is hard to do.

      As far as Cruise winning an acting award. He did win a Golden Globe and was robbed of the Oscar for Magnolia.

      He won’t win one with the MI series, but he may have a role down the road which may provide him an opportunity. Although, he doesn’t seem like someone who gives a shit if he wins one or not.

      Thanks for reading the review!

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