Title: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Country: USA, China, Hong Kong
Language: English, Swedish, German
Genre: Action, Adventure
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Music: Joe Kraemer
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Zhang Jingchu 张静初
I have watched the fifth vehicle of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE series in the local IMAX screen, superb experience! It is directed by Christopher McQuarrie, an Oscar-winning writer for THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) and previously directed another Cruise’s action flick JACK REACHER (2012). The first surprise comes to pass rather immediately when the opening gambit actually is the heavily-marketed stunt of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging outside an Airbus A400M during its takeoff, unlike in its predecessor MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), the tour-de-force of Cruise’s awe-inspiring stunt of conquering the world’s tallest building in Dubai, which is deployed in the middle section with much more anticipation. In fact it generates an effective adrenaline rush and kick-starts Hunt and his teams’ globetrotting escapades.
Yes, Ethan goes rogue again, and IMF (Impossible Mission Force), under the operation of William Brandt (Renner), is again being dissolved thanks to the insistence of CIA director Alan Hunley (Baldwin). After being captured by Solomon Lane (Harris), the head of a mysterious criminal syndicate, and a narrow escape with the aid of a British double agent Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), who is undercover for MI6. Ethan is dedicated to prove the syndicate’s existence in order to save IMF. He recruits computer expert Benji (Pegg) to stop an assassination in Vienna which Lane is the mastermind behind, which fails epically. Later, they will have to accomplish another trademark MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE in Casablanca where Brandt and Luther (Rhames) also belatedly participate, and then stage a caper with the involvement of Prime Minster of Britain (Holland) and Alan’s presence, who is there to timely witness the divulging of the syndicate’s background and finally, Hunt has to save Benji, who has been held as a hostage (an ever-corny last second countdown) by Lane and after a challenging mind game and an ensuing night chase in the London alleys, the movie ends with Hunt pulling off a self-congratulatory tit-for-tat to Lane.
The plot actually doesn’t matter that much as long as the set pieces are excellent enough for audience’s ever-demanding satisfaction nurtured by a successful franchise, well, one must admit, it is crafted with admiring brilliance with the high point of the opera house shooting chapter, a super clever move is to graft the action sequences on Puccini’s TURANDOT, an opera whose central story revolves around solving puzzles with death at the stake, and the culmination in NESSUN DORMA sparks off a terrific frisson of both thrilling and contentment, a series’ best endeavor!
Another refreshing element is the addition of a badass female character equal to Hunt, not just an objectified foil, Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust is every bit in the center of the happenings as Ethan, she even saves his life in the pivotal moment, Ferguson’s enigmatic charisma and stunning appeal is the showstopper, whereas Ilsa’s loyalty becomes the pendulum perpetually hanging in the air, all the more, in the final showdown, her close-range knife combat with the henchman Bone Doctor (Hultén) is more enthralling than Cruise’s scheme. Plus, there is no cheesy romance between her and Hunt, unlike Cruise and Emily Blunt in EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014). And Hunt is not James Bond, he is never flirtatious, all his intention is to finish the daunting task and never leave his buddies behind, call it bromance in the team if you want, but you know he will never give up Benji for anything, Cruise is as engaging as ever and not everyone buys his star appeal but we must respect his gallantry and the devotion to surpass himself for higher accomplishments, again and again.
Among the supporting cast, it is a good sign that the film doles out some action duty To Pegg too in the fieldwork, apart from his usual comical function; Renner, on the contrary, doesn’t give anything to show his expertise apart from paying lip service to the bureaucracy; and as the villain, Sean Harris exerts to beam with menace in his mumbling utterance, but as his predestined fate and the wayward obstinacy of never willing to kill our hero when he has the chance, he is as good as we can expect from a not so larger-than-life merciless criminal.
As a successful fifth entry of a popular movie franchise has spanned almost two-decades thus far, it is comforting that the picture’s success has already green-lit a follow-up, and my only plea is to keep Ferguson in it. Age is just a number for Cruise, and time will prove that he is a much adept action star than Liam Neeson when he edges near the latter’s current age, yet one still wonders, will we ever see him back in the spotlight for some meaty work requires more challenging acting chops?