Summer is the best time of the year for action movies, and it seemed unlikely that any movie would top the firepower shown in “Furious Seven.” But leave it to Tom Cruise to achieve the impossible with “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”.
The fifth in the series of MI movies starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, the lead agent of the USA’s top-secret Impossible Mission Force. This edition continues the trend that producer J.J. Abrams wisely established when he took over the series with the third film, by making Cruise truly be part of a team rather than egomaniacally trying to act like he alone can save the world.
It’s exciting, funny, and has the strongest female character yet in the series, as Hunt faces off against a mysterious double agent who alternately saves his life and then seems to want to kill him. So, if you’re looking for good, clean, action-packed fun, this movie is definitely dateworthy.
Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation
This time, a senator played by Alec Baldwin has decided he’s had enough of the IMF team’s mysterious globe-trotting adventures, and winds up disempowering and defunding the team just as Hunt has survived a surprise gas attack, kidnapping and torture at the hands of evil Eastern Europeans. Hunt refuses to submit quietly, determined to find out who the mysterious gunman was who shot a fellow female agent dead before his eyes and unleashed a roomful of poison gas upon him.
The rest of his team – played enjoyably again by Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames – spring into illicit action with him, discovering that the baddies who captured Hunt were part of a secret criminal syndicate that could be the most dangerous the world has ever known. Thus, another globe-trotting adventure begins, with the IMF team leaping from Paris to Havana to Vienna and much more in an effort to prevent the Austrian leader’s assassination and eventually a much more nefarious scheme.
To go into much more detail on a “Mission Impossible” movie’s plot is pointless, both because it’s fun to know as little as possible and then be wowed by the amazing surprises thrown at you throughout the two hour running time, and because the plots are always so convoluted that in the end they barely make sense anyway.
You don’t see these movies for great writing, but rather dashing performances and amazing stunts. We are living in a golden era again in movies, one in which modern technology allows nearly every action series with ambition – particularly the “Fast & Furious,” James Bond and the “MI” series – constantly topping each other.
This movie features Hunt jumping onto the side of an airplane and hanging on for dear life by his hands as it races into the sky at takeoff – and that’s just in the opening scene! Among the film’s other amazing action centerpieces are a stunning motorcycle chase, a daring heist that requires Hunt to dive fearlessly into a narrow tunnel amid a torrent of water and having to hold his breath for three minutes to stay alive while attempting even more stunts, and in the movie’s best scene, attempting to foil two assassins from killing both him and the chancellor of Austria right in the middle of an opera.
That opera sequence is a wordless wonder that’s nearly 12 minutes long, with fistfights, kicking and shooting all taking place on a series of rising and falling scaffolds above the stage in an opera house packed with unsuspecting audience members. I don’t use the word Hitchcockian lightly, but the filmmaking team behind this pulled off a lengthy sequence that would make even the Master Of Suspense slack-jawed with envy.
As always, this “MI” film keeps it clean, with no sex or nudity and little or no profanity. Its PG13 comes from the wall to wall action, which is always tense and exciting without being bloody or gruesome.
The movie’s only weakness comes in its final 20 minutes or so, when all the double-crosses wind up confusing more than entertaining the viewer, but a final humorous twist sends audiences home with a big laugh of wonder and appreciation. Amid the dog days of summer, what more can you ask for?