Movie review: Tom Cruise meets his match in the senseless but satisfying Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, July 31, 2015

Movie review: Tom Cruise meets his match in the senseless but satisfying Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Posted by Google on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 12:13 PM

click to enlarge Great balls of fire: Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
  • Great balls of fire: Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
★★★ ½
Now playing


Last year, in an LA Weekly article entitled “How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star,” Amy Nicholson contended that the action roles Cruise has taken in recent years are urgent attempts by an aging actor (he just turned 53) to reclaim his evaporating popularity, much of it built on skillfully chosen dramatic roles.

Indeed, Cruise, a three-time Oscar nominee, hasn’t headlined a non-action film since 2008. With the Mission: Impossible franchise, he has produced a durable action serial in his own image: entertaining, bankable, polished, wacky, a bit generic and more appealing than many would admit in mixed company.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the fifth entry (the first was almost 20 years ago!) and the closest Cruise has come to crafting a full-fledged American James Bond, starting with a pre-title sequence that has Cruise, as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, clinging to the outside of an Airbus A400M during takeoff. Cue Lalo Schifrin’s Pavlovian theme song and we’re on to a disapproving M, a comic Q and the revolving love interest. There’s a shadowy SPECTRE-esque criminal organization led by a Blofeld-ian baddie and his deadly, idiosyncratic henchman.

This time around, Hunt goes rogue to root out the villains and save the world … just like he did in two previous M:I movies. After CIA chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) successfully lobbies Congress to defund the Impossible Mission Force, Hunt, tech guru Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and porkpie-wearing hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) hopscotch the globe to battle the Syndicate, the multinational terrorist group led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a cold-blooded ex-British agent.

The plot, a twisty John le Carré knockoff, is strung together with the usual tentpole suspense sequences, starting with a Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse game amid the rafters of the Vienna State Opera during a performance of Puccini’s Turandot. Another intricate incursion into an impenetrable fortress, for which Cruise reportedly held his breath for six minutes inside an underwater centrifuge, is followed by a hairpin motorcycle chase down the Marrakesh Highway. Director Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed Cruise in Jack Reacher but still got another chance, keeps the action lively and insistent until the somewhat muted climax.

With poor Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt mainly consigned to the bureaucratic background, Cruise shares the spotlight with Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, a sexy, supremely skilled spy who confounds Hunt with conflicting allegiances and her confluence of allure and mistrust. There’s probably an allegory here for Cruise’s ill-fated marriages.

Late in the film, when gun-toting cannon fodder encircle Hunt and Faust at a sidewalk cafe, the music drops as the two gaze at each other, quietly formulating the shootout to come. It’s a moment worthy of Sergio Leone that confirms Faust as Hunt’s equal. While the love interests in this sort of action thriller—whether they’re called Bond Girls or, let’s say, Mission Maidens—are cast aside before the next sequel, Ferguson’s compelling Faust merits a recurring role in the M:I milieu. But make no mistake: Cruise remains the alpha agent of this group.

Rogue Nation makes little sense, but that’s not the point, is it? Instead, it’s industrial, adrenal action with a visual panache that has been missing since Brian DePalma’s first Mission: Impossible movie. Cruise struck his Faustian bargain, trading thematic depth and the power to control his personal reputation for exhilarating escapism, professional acclaim and, apparently, eternal youth. He’s now a virtual S1mOne-like algorithm, assimilated into the mechanized moviemaking matrix. Just keep feeding us blue pills and we’ll be happy.

Tags: , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Instead of luxury apartments(AHEM Carborro) and new restaurants, build more parking?!(Just one parking garage would help a lot, cover it …

by ammi on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

WELCOME TO THE GREAT BROTHERHOOD.
Do you want to be a member of Illuminati as a brotherhood that will make …

by peter bello on Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose Rolls Over and Plays Dead Under Its Own Heart-Tugging Weight (Arts)

The last thing Chapel Hill needs is another damn restaurant.

by Chrysser on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation