Stars – Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin and Ving Rhames
Director – Christopher McQuarrie
Released by Paramount
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
Two hours and eleven minutes of fast fun; no question about it. This Mission Impossible bears some lovely tips of the hat to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock practically invented the romantic adventure thriller that reached its zenith with North by Northwest (1959). He also established much of the film grammar that directors readily draw from even today. Throw in a little fun shoe fetish and you’ve got an enjoyable stylish thrill ride that delivers as strongly as the last Mission Impossible outing, Ghost Protocol. The fifth adventure in the series begins with Tom Cruise literally running after a jet that is about to take off with a shipment of nerve gas that will most certainly fall into the wrong hands. Cruise hangs on as the plane takes off and barely gets on board after Simon Pegg manages to open the right door for him to enter. It’s a nice opening reminiscent of the pre-credit sequences that became one of the trademarks of the James Bond series.
In fairly rapid order Cruise gets captured and is set free by Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) just as he is about to be tortured by the Bone Doctor. Meanwhile back in the Senate CIA director Alec Baldwin has convinced them to shut down the lone wolf Impossible Missions Force. They are getting too cocky and he is convinced their success is just due to luck. Cruise and his loyal team are on their own the track down the evil Syndicate. This is a group of dangerous spies who have faked their deaths and now work in league. Kind of like SPECTRE. The plot is not that important. They basically follow on person to another trying to locate the leader of the Syndicate. Along the way Ilsa keeps turning up. She is clearly trying to kill or capture Cruise until she helps him at the last minute. We’ve seen the deep cover double agent bit before but that doesn’t take away from the rapport these two characters have throughout the film. Familiarity is not an issue at all. We are clearly shown just what kind of movie this will be right from the beginning. Director McQuarrie faithfully delivers the goods here.
Rogue Nation gives us that amiable camaraderie between Cruise’s band of IMF members – Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg. Fun as they are the film is built on its series of powerful set pieces. There is a remarkable assassination attempt at the Vienna Opera House. It’s a spectacular location. The audience is huge and amongst them is the chancellor aka the target. Cruise follows a bad guy up through the maze of catwalks suspended high above the stage. The orchestra swells. We can see the mark on someone’s music sheet indicating a loud crescendo that will cover the killing. This is the same device that Alfred Hitchcock used so well in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). The centerpiece of the film gets back to the old Mission Impossible type assignments. They have to break into a heavily guarded data storage center to retrieve a file. In order for Simon Pegg to fool the various digital checkpoints someone will have to go deep within the core and swap out an identity recognition file with one that looks like Pegg. This core is only accessible by going down a huge whirlpool that leads to a completely submerged port. Once inside someone will have to grab the right connection while being spun around in circles over and over. All this has to be done while holding your breath for two minutes! The whole bit is very suspenseful. The water filled set is completely threatening.
There is a killer motorcycle chase that allows Cruise to show off what looks like some real life motorcycling riding that gets integrated into the scene. Cycles and cars blast through the highway until only the high speed cycles are left to see it to the end. Right before this sequence we ride with Cruise and Pegg as their car careens around the streets. The car crashes and Cruise picks up a motorcycle to join the chase. The problem is that Pegg is comic relief. He’s good at it, too. So we are having a laugh just as we are expected to throttle up for this balls to the wall action scene. It’s a bit of a whiplash. Usually the comedy goes after the chase. The only other note that rings false for me was the casting of Sean Harris as the leader of the supremely evil Syndicate. He’s just not all that much of a villainous presence. Those are minor quibbles in what is a terrifically entertaining fun ride.
Cruise has managed to make one of these Mission Impossible films about every four or five years since 1996. The second one directed by John Woo had some outstanding action scenes. The last two though have nicely elevated the look and feel of the series. Yes the films center most assuredly around Cruise but he pulls it off. Rebecca Ferguson turns in a very nice performance as Ilsa. She plays alluring yet deadly in a believable fashion. She handles the action scenes well, too. You get exactly what you expect with this. Again for my money the last two have upped the ante nicely.
Video – 1.85:1
This is a crisp and clean state of the art presentation. Slick as glass without a smudge on it. That kind of presentation perfectly suits this style of movie.
Audio – 7.1 Dolby Atmos, Dolby 5.1 in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish with subtitles offered in English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
My system is not equipped with the Dolby Atmos support however it defaulted to a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that complete rocked the house. Not only was the dialogue clear but in many cases there was a bass support that gave a real movie theater like treatment to the voices. The musical soundtrack particularly when it was tied to an onscreen sources like the orchestra in the Vienna Opera House soared with plenty of muscle. Sound effects had that sub woofer rumble you expect. Every once in a while a setting had that immersive layer of sound effects that worked the rear surround speakers. This is exactly the kind of mix that surround systems were made for. If you have a nice rig at home, give it some gas and sit back and enjoy it. This is easily one of the best home soundscapes I have heard all year.
Extras – Commentary by Tom Cruise and director/screenwriter, Lighting the Fuse, Cruise Control, Heroes, Cruising Altitude, Mission: Immersible, Sand Theft Auto,
The Missions Continue. A DVD and digital copy download are also included. There was also an offer to get a digital copy of one of the previous Mission Impossible movies.
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic :
Movie – Good / Excellent