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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Simon McBurney, Sean Harris | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

When it comes to action movie sequels, it's all about amping up the action and topping any previous thrills featured in prior episodes.  In director Brad Bird's Ghost Protocol, we watched Tom Cruise engage in a jaw dropping stunt in which he hung off the side of the worlds tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.  Now, four years later, the superstar is back in the fifth installment of the film franchise that wastes no time setting the momentum with an opening, death defying action sequence that has Cruise’s IMF agent Ethan Hunt hanging on for dear life to the side off a huge cargo plane loaded with deadly chemical material, as it takes off and is in mid flight. That's only the first of several hair raising stunts Cruise performs in this film.  He is known for doing his own stunts and it seems there isn't anything the dedicated and fearless 53 year old actor won't do to entertain his legions of worldwide fans.

This time around, Christopher McQuarrie (who previously collaborated with Cruise as director on Jack Reacher and as screenwriter for  Edge of Tomorrow) is the director as well as cowriter (with Drew Pearce, Iron Man 3) of this globe trotting action adventure that takes us from Washington D. C. to Havana, Vienna, London, Paris, and Casablanca.

The plot kicks in like this. Disregarding the fact that IMF agent Ethan Hunt and his team have always accomplished their missions, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin, Still Alice) convinces a government committee to shut down the “Impossible Mission Force” because he is sick and tired of what he deems “their reckless behavior”, noting the events of Ghost Protocol, which left the Kremlin in ruins.

Despite Huntley's orders, Hunt has another more important thing on his mind and is not about to stop and give in to his boss's demand until he succeeds in tracking down and exposing a shadowy, terrorist organization known only as “the Syndicate”, made up of skilled international espionage agents that have gone rogue and whose leader is a former British intelligent agent, turned bad guy, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

Believing the Syndicate doesn't exist and is just a product of Hunt's imagination, Hunley he is intent on bringing in Hunt, who is now on the run and considered a fugitive.

Although assigned to go after and bring him in, the rest of Hunt's IMF team, top analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), tech wiz Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, providing comic relief), join up with Hunt and eventually enlist his old pal, computer hacker Luther Stickell (an underused Ving Rhames).

Meanwhile, Hunt comes in contact and with a mysterious brunette named Ilsa Faust (impressive Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, Hercules, TV's The White Queen) a kick ass British agent who has infiltrated the Syndicate and must continually prove her loyalty but winds up saving our hero from torture and death at the hands of one of Lane's henchman.  After slipping away, Ilsa and Hunt eventually encounter each other again at the Vienna Opera House where he must stop an assassination attempt on the Austrian Chancellor during a performance of "Turandot".

While Brandt, Benji,and Luther lend some help for Hunt on his high stakes mission, it is Ilsa that becomes his strongest ally...or maybe, possible foe. We have to wait and see how it all pans out.  What unfolds is a meandering, convoluted plot with so many head spinning twists and turns in which lies, deception, and questionable loyalties, figure into the scenario.

But let's get real.  Cruise is the star and main attraction and it is all about watching him engage in thrilling action sequences and what, in reality, are impossible tasks. There is the requisite high speed motorcycle chase through (unlikely) empty streets and onto a highway, and dodging bullets that are aimed directly at him, all leading up to the gripping, tension filled, break in sequence at a (supposedly) high security facility where Hunt must dive deep underwater and hold his breath for three minutes in order to retrieve a computer chip that holds some valuable information.

What is missing from the old TV series from the 60's, upon which this franchise is loosely based, is the fact that the team effort has been diminished with each follow up installment. By now, there is no real Mission Impossible “force”. Paula Patton, who appeared in the first installment as the lone female member of the MIF, is out of the picture.  Cruise's Hunt, IS the force with the rest of his team spending most of the time waiting on the sidelines before showing up on occasion to lend some support. As for disguises, you have to wait until the end before one is thrown in for good measure.

I suppose Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation will be a summer blockbuster since it fits the bill as a slick, action packed spy adventure. I just wish the franchise would return to the fascinating elements that made the TV series stand out from the rest, or is that asking for something impossible?

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