A review of “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” starring Tom Cruise as the irrepressible superspy Ethan Hunt. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), in the lively “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” demonstrates an impressive number of essential life skills. In short order, he hangs off the edge of a plane, outruns bullets, holds his breath for a really long time, demonstrates the balance of a skilled tightrope walker, motorcycles without a helmet, dangles high above an opera set while beating somebody up, and (spoiler alert, but not really) recovers from death. (You don’t think this franchise would kill Ethan Hunt off, do you?) He’s such a Renaissance man that, during the disruption of said opera, I found myself hoping he’d hop onto the stage, don a costume and pinch-hit for the tenor.
This fifth edition of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, is good popcorn-movie fun; watch it on the biggest screen you can find (I saw it on the Boeing IMAX at Pacific Science Center) and enjoy the zippiness. The plot doesn’t matter at all in a movie like this; suffice to say that Hunt and his IMF colleagues Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames), after being disbanded for “wanton brinkmanship and a total disregard for protocol,” must nonetheless save the world from a shady rogue nation called The Syndicate. Along the way, they’re joined by slinky spy Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), whose true affiliation remains shadowy.
McQuarrie, structuring the film as a series of action set pieces in dazzling international locations, keeps the pace taut. That opera sequence (set at the stunning Vienna State Opera House, during a performance of “Turandot”), in particular, is a nail-biter, with Puccini’s music adding to the drama. (Has anyone in the movies ever been strangled to the tune of “Nessun dorma” before?) The cast is good fun, particularly Pegg, whose comic looseness helps balance Cruise’s, well, Cruise-ness. The Intense Tom Cruise Face — you know the expression I mean, where he looks like he’s about to explode and/or start yelling, but doesn’t — makes frequent appearances, as does the trademark arm-chopping Tom Cruise Run.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,’ with Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. 125 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity. Several theaters.
And Ferguson does well as a female badass, quite capable of deftly punching the lights out of any man in the room. (Demonstrating that she’s far smarter than her “Jurassic World” counterpart, this chic adventurer shucks off her sky-high heels before running for her life.) Is it too much to ask, in this supposed Summer of Female Heroines at the Multiplexes, that someday a big-franchise action flick might have more than one token female with a speaking role? Just wondering. In the meantime, pass the popcorn.
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