This is hilarious – and a first. I could almost paste my “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” opinion here; however – another first – this would not be bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.
Things go bad ~ way bad ~ and Ethan and crew are disavowed. Nevertheless, a maniac has his hands on the bomb, and must be stopped. Commence conflict.
That’s it. That’s all we got. And that’s all we need.
There’s not a whole lot to say, except that Ghost Protocol is quite simply everything one could possibly want in an action film: a nail-biting and realistic challenge, characterization sufficient to caring about the principals (strong female roles, even, very nice), spectacular globe-trotting scenery, dazzling fight and chase choreography, superb execution by the cast, a lovely light touch of humor at all the right junctures, and direction that will leave you gasping.
Ghost Protocol is a fabulously good time; it’s not necessary to have seen prior franchise installments, and it should leave anyone inclined to be in the theater in the first place well served.
Yep, pretty much! But not to worry. Despite similar elements (hey, it’s a franchise), “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” maintains its own fresh voice, and thus eludes the fate of a retread.
This time around, the IMF hasn’t been disavowed, but rather disbanded entirely – and the timing’s particularly bad, given that today’s villain (the superb Sean Harris) is even more daunting than a bully with the bomb. We’re taken largely indoors as well, the sweeping imagery being replaced by an elegant foray into a cavernous opera house during a performance of Puccini’s “Turandot”, and later by a remarkable and beautiful underground challenge.
Best of all, the already strong female roles have unified into the best heroine since Trinity, placing Rebecca Ferguson squarely into the lineage of Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, and Carrie-Anne Moss. And there is no running in 5” heels nonsense, to which consummate professionals Amanda Seyfried and Bryce Dallas Howard were subjected. No, our Ilsa gets barefoot before getting down to business – but she never leaves the stilettos behind, a nice touch. (And there’s one even nicer touch, but I shan’t spoil it for you.) Parents, get this one in front of your daughters the minute they’re mature enough for the action-style violence (I know, the irony of that phrase is not lost on me, but let’s live in the real world; they sure do).
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has done a masterful job of escalating the elements to their logical and dazzling heights, setting them in clear relief against a story that never overreaches. The tale contains a pleasing tension comprised of ambiguity and plot twists woven into its elegantly simple narrative between action sequences, neither of which intrudes on the other’s moment; this gives the film a nice pendulum swing that keeps it from lapsing into gimmick.
As for those stunts? Yes, much is being made of Cruise’s penchant for doing his own, but as hard as I must work to separate the man from the art, the nexus at which this man meets his art cannot be denied.
I’m not a stunt junkie per se, but do love the exceptional ones, the ones we’re unlikely ever to see again and that [we hope!] would never be part of our personal experience. It’s why “Ghost Protocol” reigns in glory for its Burj Khalifa sequence, right up there with “Cliffhanger”‘s astonishing plane-to-plane transport. As with those two, for “Rogue Nation” I strongly urge arranging the largest screen you can manage. The fact that it’s Cruise has nothing to do with them, other than you have to respect his intestinal fortitude (even if it is borne of low-grade megalomania).
The breathtaking first five minutes of “Rogue Nation” are worth the price of admission in this regard. If you’ve seen the featurette floating around as part of the media blitz, suffice to say that the portion shown merely part of the proceedings. Beyond this, “Rogue Nation” includes a chase of such beauty as to make William Friedkin weep, and a particular action on Cruise’s part that created an audible gasp of awe across the screening audience, myself included. It’s really less of a stunt than a… feat. You’ll know it when you see it.
And when Cruise and Ferguson share a stunt, it’s some kinda fun. There’s all the other gorgeously-choreographed action we could ask for, and not a moment of it for its own sake (I’m talking to you, “Age of Ultron”).
You know, I think I just may sign up for “Mission: Impossible” outright, no external reasons needed. This is true (and I’m grateful).
PS – During the motorcycle chase seen (if you can even remember by then!), watch for the moment when Cruise’s knee touches down for a split second. He is, after all, essentially an amateur stuntman, and given his reaction this looks for all the world like a natural accident. More power to him that he kept it together, credit where credit is due.
Story: Ethan Hunt and company set out to eradicate the Syndicate, an expert terrorist operation no one will acknowledge even exists.
Themes: Competence, Loyalty, Man vs. Man, Teamwork
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Tom Hollander, Jens Hultén
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Running time: 131 minutes (you’ll never feel the length)
Houston release date: July 31, 2015
Tickets: Check IMDb.com or your local listings
Screened July 28, 2015 at the Edwards Grand Palace theater in Houston TX