Film Reviews

AS PITHY AS IT GETS – <i>Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation</i> (2015)

AS PITHY AS IT GETS – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Alice Chou

August 8th, 2015

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Unlike the James Bond and other superhero movie franchises, the Mission: Impossible movies have kept the same actor playing the lead for nineteen years. This is the fifth installment with Tom Cruise as the indestructible spy Ethan Hunt. At age 53, he is as committed as ever to the movie and to the role of Hunt. The sixth installment has already been confirmed to go into production in 2016. The question is, can the audience like a movie starring Cruise, given all the controversies surrounding his personal life and beliefs? The early box office return seems to suggest Cruise is still a bankable action star. Only time and final numbers will tell.

In Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the government has disbanded the Impossible Mission Force due to all the mayhem it have caused while chasing bad guys around the world. Hunt has to go under the radar to find and expose the Syndicate, a rogue anti-IMF organization, led by the evil Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), who is bent on creating terrorist acts. Hunt has help from his friends and colleagues: William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), who works inside CIA and serves as Hunt’s link to the government; Benji (Simon Pegg), who provides comic relief; and Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames), who, like Cruise, has been in all the MI movies and shows up from time to time to provide additional assistance. Along the way, Hunt encounters another agent, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). An intelligent agent and excellent fighter with an icy, menacing presence, she is like the female version of Hunt. The movie does a good job of keeping the audience guessing if she is a friend or foe. Because there is not much chemistry between the two, keeping their relationship platonic is a smart move, and it is refreshing that she stands on her own, rescuing others instead of needing rescuing.

It’s impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning Cruise and his status as a celebrity and public figure. Our perceptions of him have changed over the years, from a young heartthrob in popular movies to someone in a controversial, and, according to news reports, criminal organization. His highly publicized failed marriages, his comments about postpartum depression and psychiatry in general, and his association with the Church of Scientology, have greatly damaged his reputation as an actor and a person. Some people have found his comments and actions offensive. This has led to the changes in the public’s’ reception of his movies, as demonstrated in his last two blockbusters, Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow. Although they were well-received by the critics, opinions about Cruise did not change.

Some may also find his acting style less than desirable. Cruise has always acted with a ferocious intensity, but one can argue that he tries too hard and tends to overact. When you see him in a movie, you see Tom Cruise and not the character he is portraying. This style of acting is less noticeable in a fast-paced action movie, and since we are used to identifying Cruise as Hunt, we can overlook this acting flaw. He also has a habit of incorporating scenes of him running in almost all of his movies, including this one. Again, some storylines require running and Cruise may think he looks good doing it, but it has become repetitive and tiresome. I still hope one day he will return to do some serious films that allow him to tone down the intensity of his acting and dispense with the running.

Compared to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, this one is just as polished. The pace is fast but not rushed. There are several action sequences, such as the fight inside an opera house, an underwater extraction, and the motorcycle chase, that are stylishly and suspenseful executed. And who does not recognize the theme music? Sure, there are implausible plots and physic-defying stunts, but who cares? This is what we expected in a summer action blockbuster: action, excitement, adrenaline, entertainment, escape, and familiarity. It is a thrilling ride, especially on an IMAX screen, as long as you can leave Cruise’s baggage behind for a couple of hours.

Misson: Impossible – Rogue Nation continues its run at Regal Valley River Center Stadium 15 and Cinemark 17. Click here for showtimes.

Alice Chou is a physician by trade, but a lifelong cinephile and a novice movie reviewer. As Pithy as it Gets is an irregular column in which she provides critical analysis of films screening locally.

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