Friday, July 31, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

This review originally appeared on

These days, attempting to separate the image of Tom Cruise, loony Scientologist elder, from the image of Tom Cruise, Big Movie Star is a nearly impossible mission. But movies like last year's Edge of Tomorrow and this fifth entry in the Mission: Impossible are making it a little easier.

All five M:I movies have had different directors, which is a tradition I hope continues with the inevitable sequels — it lends the series a nice level of unpredictability. And while current director Christopher McQuarrie doesn't bring anything revolutionary or insane to the series, (for that, you'll have to reach back to John Woo's Mission: Impossible 2, which was the nuttiest — and thus my favorite — M:I movie), he has crafted a solid bit of action-filled entertainment, complete with the requisite villain hoping to destroy the world (Sean Harris); an upper level management type who wants to keep the IMF team apart; (Alec Baldwin); and a femme who may be a fatale, or may be a friend (Rebecca Ferguson).

Ferguson steals the show on more than one occasion — which could be a testament to Cruise, who isn't afraid to be upstaged. In fact, he's probably at his best when he's fighting against someone who's clearly a little smarter and/or a little stronger; it gives his Ethan Hunt a nice does of humility, and humor.

Besides, he'd never be able to come close to the moves Ferguson masters in her fight scenes, particularly the classic "lady crushes man's head between her thighs" maneuver, which she tends to combine with an initial flying leap over the guy, resulting in her landing on top, head between legs, neck in perfect position for snapping.

The IMF gang is also back: Ving Rhames as Luther, who does NOT do much leaping in the movie; I think he spends most of it lying down; Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, who has to fight off Alec Baldwin's CIA chief; and; Simon Pegg as Benji, who gets more feet-on-the ground action this go-around.

Sure, the movie's probably about 20 minutes too long, and the ending is the furthest from surprising that you can probably get. But the Mission: Impossible series has always been a nice alternative to the more serious Daniel Craig 007 and Bourne movies, and Rogue Nation is so much fun it almost manages to make you forget about Crazy Cruise. And that's an accomplishment.

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