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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Movie Review- Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation

Tom Cruise showing off again in Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation

Introduction

Back in 1996 during a breakout Summer movie season (Twister, Dragonheart, The Rock, Eraser, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day), a big budget action film came along and showed that seasonal entertainment could be smart, as well as eye-popping. Mission: Impossible was more than just a good overall movie. It showed that a movie based off of an old television show could be done intelligently, instead of being just a cheap farce (The Brady Bunch Movie, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Flintstones). Some may even have called it too smart; I had to watch more than once to understand the many twists and characters. I was a little letdown by its first sequel, Mission: Impossible II. The soundtrack was cool but, Director John Woo's (Face/Off) over the top action and a substandard plot with uninspired characters, was a bit forgettable. Then J.J. Abrams (Super 8) came aboard for Mission: Impossible III and made a much better finished product. The story and characters (especially the villain, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) were much improved. For a long while after (five years is an eternity in Hollywood), many thought that the franchise was dead. Then unexpectedly, Brad Bird from The Incredibles stepped in and reinvigorated the series with a smart, witty, suspenseful, and overall fun, sequel (Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol). At the lead has always been Tom Cruise (obviously); A man that has refused to go the way of the dodo just because he's gotten older. With each new decade since the early 80's, the man seems to put that extra effort forward with his physical appearance and commendable stunt work ("Can't catch me, gay thoughts!"). Regardless of how anyone views his personal life, Cruise commands respect when he's on the screen. With the latest M:I film, he doesn't show a sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation

Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation, is the 'Quantum of Solace' of the franchise. It feels more like a sequel to Ghost Protocol than as a stand alone film. For better or worse, that's just the way it is. Still, it's a better film than it could have been, especially in the absence of Brad Bird. Director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), who's collaborated with Cruise on more than a few films, has a good bead on things with his direction and screenwriting for this film. Most series' would be stagnant by a fifth go round but, not this time. Going against the grain of how many recent trailers of films give away their big plot twists and action scenes because of insecurity ("We hope you'll see our movie"), Rouge Nation's big scene from its trailer happens right at the beginning, letting the audience know that even bigger things are in store. Accompanied by a rousing score by Joe Kraemer (Jack Reacher) that never overwhelms a single scene, the action is top notch and well thought out. Just when I thought that there was nothing else that this franchise had to offer, I'm once again proven wrong. There's still plenty of fun to be had, and everyone involved is doing just that.
Tom Cruise once again brings his commitment to giving his best possible performance, by not only being a bad ass stuntman, but also by having a well timed sense of humor. This franchise is his baby and he's still taking good care of it. Returning characters from Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), and Jeremy Renner (The Town), all get more than a few scenes to back up Cruise and keep the humor fresh, not slapsticky. Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules 2014) as a double agent, holds her own as Cruise's counterpart with some good acting and impressive physical ability. There's a sexual tension between them that remains subtle throughout , and never gets intrusive to the story. Alec Baldwin (The Departed) as an interfering C.I.A. agent, plays a charismatic asshole (as always) that's more fun than annoying. Sean Harris (Prometheus) as the film's head villain, is entertaining as a bad guy that's more plotting than boisterous. Sometimes, that's more scary and effective than just being an energetic loudmouth. Rounding things out, are a couple of small but effective performances from Simon McBurney (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest & At World's End). Their scene together is one of the film's comical highlights.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation

The Good- Renner and Rhames arguing in the SUV. The water vault break in scene; One long take that exhibits Cruise's skills. The car chase that transfers to motorcycles; Beautifully shot and choreographed in one of the most exiting action scenes of the year. Those two scenes capture the spirit of the previous films.
The Bad- The plot sometimes gets confusing with more than a few twists and character agendas. Part 1 was confusing too so, maybe this is also worth another viewing?
The Ugly- Imagine how even more awesome Rouge Nation would have been if Brad Bird had elected to also direct it instead of that gigantic flop called, Tomorrowland.

Final Thoughts on Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation

Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation isn't as clever or energizing as Ghost Protocol, but it is a very worthy sequel and much better than part 2. It's one of the better Summer movies this year and a lot of fun. See this in theaters and have a good time. I wonder if Cruise will still be doing these films into his seventies? He'd still probably be more captivating than Adam Sandler by that time. Oh yeah, that doesn't take much.
Rating- 7.5 out of 10
Running Time- 131 Minutes
Action/Spy/Adventure

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