It isn't supposed to happen this way. Movie franchises nearly always grow steadily worse which each trip to the well. Usually by the third or forth film, they are creatively-bankrupt, cynical products kept alive for the sole purpose of squeezing every last dollar from a brand name. But so far, the Mission: Impossible series is actually doing the impossible. With the exception of the godawful John Woo-directed MI:II, each subsequent film has actually been better than the last one.
That's probably a good thing as far as Tom Cruise is concerned. Despite appearing in some solid films of-late, like Jack Reacher & Edge of Tomorrow (hell, I'm even willing to throw in Oblivion), only the M:I franchise still rakes in the box office numbers he's been accustomed to through most of his career. Perhaps that's because the concept is conducive to allowing Cruise to do what he does best, which is simply being Tom Cruise, a man of action willing to do all sorts of dangerously insane shit for the sake of entertainment.
Each movie features at least one outrageous action sequence, usually involving heights, where it’s obviously Cruise himself - not a stuntman - risking his life for the sake of a shot, with little or no special effects. Each time, we walk away convinced he must be out of his mind. These scenes are always one of the highlights of every film, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is no exception. This time, he’s clinging to the outside of a cargo plane during a steep take-off.
|Tom and Simon try to out-emote each other. Looks like Tom wins.|
But just because this spectacular bit of lunacy occurs in the opening scene, it doesn’t render the rest of the film anti-climactic. In fact, Rogue Nation is just as entertaining as Ghost Protocol, with a compelling story involving the recently-decommissioned IMF forced to turn rogue in order to expose an underground terror organization that’s just as well financed and equipped. Joining Cruise as Ethan Hunt are most of the eclectic characters who’ve joined the team and endeared themselves to us over the years (Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg), along with a few new ones: Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, a British agent, and Alec Baldwin as a CIA director who initially spearheads the campaign to end the IMF. Whether or not these two pop up in later films remains to be seen. I hope they do because they’re welcome additions to the cast, especially Ferguson, who’s every bit Cruise’s equal in the badassery department.
Like, Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation successfully balances an intriguing plot, terrific action and welcome doses of humor without forgetting its primary purpose...to let Tom Cruise be Tom Cruise. At this point, the franchise only has tenuous ties to the TV show on which it’s based, but Rogue Nation goes a long way toward establishing the series as something even better: cinematic comfort food. Like James Bond, we know what we’re gonna get with a Mission: Impossible film...a smart story, characters we’ve grown to appreciate and at-least one scene which convinces us Tom Cruise is insanely dedicated to his job.
- Audio commentary by Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie
- Making-Of Featurettes: “Lighting the Fuse”; “Heroes”; “Mission: Immersible”; “Sand Theft Auto”; “The Missions Continue”; “Cruising Altitude” (the last of which will either confirm Cruise’s dedication or insanity)
- DVD & Digital Copies
PURR...LIKE A GOOD (AND FAMILIAR) SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS