You know what the real Mission: Impossible is? Trying to get insurance for Tom Cruise. Oh, there is eventually a signature in blood on the dotted line, or this film would not be greenlit, but can any layman truly speculate what devil’s percentage of the box office these insurance companies are demanding in return – to insure a celebrity almost Too Big To Insure?
And there he goes – the billion-dollar star cabled to the outside of a military airplane like a fucking lunatic – while insurance companies bite their nails in anguish that they might have to actually pay up the projected opening weekend grosses of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION should the lunatic plummet to Earth like the fallen angel he is…
Tom Cruise (EDGE OF TOMORROW) is once again Ethan Hunt. IMF Superspy. And I-do-my-own-stunts lunatic. In this fifth impossible mission – to do a movie without sensually shaving his torso. And to get insured.
CIA chief Huntley (Alec Baldwin, STILL ALICE) believes Ethan “is the arsonist and the firefighter, creating the criminal scenarios that he fixes,” so shuts down IMF in a Court Of Old Farts, where Ethan’s colleague in action pants, Brandt (Jeremy Renner, AVENGERS), represents IMF like Alberto Gonzalez testifying on torture, “I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation…”
A fugitive from his own government, Tom Cruise’s torso is pitted against a rogue spy organization within the world spy network, called The Syndicate. Led by Solomon Lane (weasel-featured Sean Harris, PROMETHEUS), more ruthless, more Russian and more spy-ish than IMF, Ethan’s last hope for acquittal from his government is to bring them down – and he can only depend on himself. And his torso.
His boy band from the last few outings returns: Simon Pegg (THE WORLD’S END) as Ethan’s bottom bitch slash Damsel In Distress, Ving Rhames (FORCE OF EXECUTION) as one of those blowup clowns that you can’t knock over, and Jeremy Renner as The Voice Of Reason: “I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation…”
Tom Hollander has gone from Commander of the British Navy (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2), to political dust mote (IN THE LOOP), to the Prime Minister of England here, with hardly anything to do to match his wit and talent.
Balancing the raging testosterone, Rebecca Ferguson (HERCULES 2014) as Ilsa, double-agenting for Solomon Lane, or maybe the annoying British – we’ll never know, not as long as our attention is diverted by that dress too long to walk in, and her cunnilingus-karate (that fighting style created for modern movie chicks that involves opening their supple thighs indecently and closing them around a man’s grateful head. Let me guess: a MAN created this style, right? Knife fight with big guy – cutting, slashing, falling, edging forward – Ow! Ah! Orgasm sounds! Ugh! You ripped my dress! Ehh! – as soon as she uses her thigh-kwon-do, it’s all over).
By the way, if you’re here for the plane gag, that’s over and done in the cold opening – the little segment before the opening credits. Unrelated to anything else in the film, purely for wow factor, an A400M airbus takes off with Mr. Cruise holding on to a closed side door, with nothing but a cable rig and Lafayette Ron Hubbard keeping him from harm. It’s interesting to note that all the posters for this movie feature a different stunt, because – Tom Cruise Tom Cruise.
Pursuing Solomon Lane takes Ethan to Europe (we do love our tentpole budget), where he finds himself having to deter the assassination of a Euro president during an opera, Puccini’s Turandot. During the aria Nessun Dorma, he sees two assassins from each side of the room aiming at the president and must decide which one to shoot first – no matter who he chooses, the other will then surely kill the president. The person he finally decides to shoot – which derails the assassination – is an elegant solution. Coolest part about this sequence is that the classy Nessun Dorma would be woven into the soundtrack from now on.
In a primal fear underwater sequence, Ethan must hold his breath for an impossible three minutes of exertion while he switches a coded disk. As gripping as this sequence is, does any villain organization really keep the codes to their employees in a subterranean underwater tank on waterproof disks each in their own compartment with thousands of pounds of pressure generated from artificial undertow created by spinning robotic arms? Did I just describe the Department of Motor Vehicles?
…and then hell ride a motorbike chase through oncoming traffic, with innumerable moving violations, even by European standards. (They’ve done something to The Car Chase in this movie – they’ve made it interesting!) And yes, that’s Tom Cruise really leaning through every curve on that bucking bronco, taunting his Allstate Insurance deductible. More thrilling than dry-shaving your torso…
…all while Ilsa double-crosses him, while trying not to kill him, while making it look like she is trying to kill him, while Simon Pegg helps him by stuttering, and Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner wander around like day players.
Christopher McQuarrie (writer, THE USUAL SUSPECTS) writes and directs this lavish production with a sure grip, and keeps the action visually astounding and spatially logical (by this I mean, all his action sequences seem to take place in three dimensions – note the plane gag, opera catwalk, underwater, bike chase along side of mountain, etc.); he keeps the dialogue humorous and basic as per action movie protocol, and keeps Tom Cruise alive for insurance companies.
Still, it seems a mission impossible to make a movie without so many glaring plot inconsistencies:
- In opening scene, why does Pegg reveal himself just to talk on the comm? He never has to lift his head above the camouflaging grass. You call yourself a field agent? Stay hidden like one!
- The elusive genius Solomon has spent years working behind Ethan’s back to thwart him; at this moment, there is still no tactical reason to reveal himself to Ethan, yet he does. And Ethan’s sketch of Solomon is instrumental in Solomon’s downfall.
- Oh, add cartoonist to Ethan’s long list of annoying virtuosities.
- When Solomon trapped Ethan in a glass case of emotion, why not use POISON GAS to KILL him, instead of knocking him out just to see him tied topless to a whipping post?
- Topless? Why not naked? Are you trying to kill him, torture him or arouse him? Either way, why the modesty?
- Why is the key to Ethan’s cuffs in such close proximity to Ethan at the whipping post?
- Ethan says he’s been tailing Solomon around the world as he causes giant disasters – but in this modern world, you don’t have to physically BE in any location to make anything happen there. (Alec Baldwin was right – Ethan was just using the IMF budget to gallivant on holiday!)
- Jesus, this really annoyed me: The orchestra wouldn’t be checking their instruments in five minutes before downbeat. PRIMAL SCREAM AT IGNORANCE OF FILMMAKERS THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER.
Overarching the minutiae, I constantly wonder where Ethan and his outlaw team get access to all those neato devices as convenient as Batman’s utility belt. It seems that whether their spy agency is supporting them or not, they can easily get fake passports, vehicles, food, shelter, weapons, clothing, safe houses, ultra-tech diving gear, even those realistic facemasks THAT STILL KEEP FOOLING EVERYONE. If the plot of a movie involves everything being ripped from the hero, then the hero should not have access to anything, let alone EVERYTHING. You can’t have it both ways. When a hero has everything ripped from him, he has to use his ingenuity to survive and rise from the fall, but not Ethan – he just uses any IMF tech gear he needs, and his sensually shaved torso.
That’s why this movie – and its dangers – comes off as hollow fun.
ROGUE NATION tries for some introspection with Ilsa noting, “We only think we’re fighting for the right side because that’s what we choose to believe.” IMF calls The Syndicate a terrorist network, yet that is from their frame of reference, because The Syndicate is messing with their terrorist activity. Let’s face it, to scores of countries, the CIA is the true terrorist network– cough-Shah of Iran, cough-Saddam, cough-Cuba… if I go on, I’ll never be able to stop this coughing convulsion…
But I’m sure no one is here to ponder such truisms. It’s always a mission impossible trying to tease out the truth with so much thigh and torso to distract us. “I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation…”