‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’ at Top of Its Game

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CHICAGO – The sensational summer movie season of 2015 still has some pulse pounding tricks up its sleeve, and “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” fulfills that sensation with a wham-bam bag of spy games. Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are back, joined by femme kick-ass Rebecca Ferguson.

Another advantage in this 5th chapter of the “Mission” series is Christopher McQuarrie (“Edge of Tomorrow”) who conceived the story, wrote the screenplay and directed the film. That kind of creative control is evident in each frame, as the confrontations, escapes, capers and chase scenes are all brilliantly refreshed. There are homages to other thrillers (including a direct Alfred Hitchcock Man-Who-Knew-Too-Much reference), a deeply desperate villain and virtually everything on the line. Also impressive is their decision to not necessarily have a “love interest” for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, but have the female counterpart as an equal partner as a spy, whose quick decisions matches the male lead, and whose ability to bring down her tormentors creates a boldness and snap that evolves the all-male Impossible Mission Force (IMF).

These are dark days for the IMF. Their “methods” in certain deep operation cases are called to the carpet before the United States Senate. Leading the charge against their existence is the director of the CIA, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). He is asking to disband IMF, and put it under his agency. William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is no help at that committee hearing, as he is sworn to secrecy as a member of the force.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt is Cruising in ‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Meanwhile, IMF super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has gone missing, and is status his downgraded to rogue by the CIA. His elusiveness is effective, because he is close to breaking into an international terrorist enemy, the mysterious Syndicate. He escaped from them once with the help of Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be rogue herself, and enlists his tech man Benji (Simon Pegg) to help bring the latest mission into focus.

It is the twists and turns that make the “Mission: Impossible” film series so entertaining, and in addition the action is James-Bond-on-Red-Bull cool, making it yet another great popcorn movie in this stellar movie Summer of 2015. This fifth chapter is pivotal in the series, and the production team made sure the creativity of everything in the film – from the exotic locations, to the intrigue, to the humor, to the stunts – were all top level. Yes, from beginning to end it’s an adrenalin ride, but it also doesn’t compromise on story or characters.

This includes the newest female lead, the Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa (yes, this is a nod to Casablanca). The first time she is seen in the film is not in some slinky sexy dress – which is not to say she doesn’t show up later in one – but outfitted as part of Ethan Hunt’s capture team. When she helps him defeat that team, suddenly she is an equal in the story, and that ups the ante as to what information she might possess. Also equal is her application of action and kick-ass, including a signature leg lock which didn’t look pleasant to experience at all. Ferguson is also a deeply ingrained actress, and makes the most out her first major leading role.

What about the IMF team? Alec Baldwin is a nice recruit, because at this point in his career he relishes playing the bureaucratic character part. Simon Pegg is another wonder, is there anybody the portrays the smart sidekick better? His mix of bemusement and perspective are always welcome. Renner and Ving Rhames (as Luther) are also back to lend key support, and the rapport between the seasoned ensemble has never been better.

Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise
Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) and Ethan Hunt in ‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise is also very interesting. The ageless superdude is so focused in this film, and so taciturn, that he’d almost pop like a balloon if pricked in the right place (maybe I should rephrase that). He owns the character and the series, and is pushing it to a stratospheric level – it’s the Cruiser, man. And luckily for all the good guys, the henchman of the Syndicate forgot yet again to keep up with their gun range practice. The hapless shooters couldn’t hit the side of a barn.

This summer has been a carnival of cinema delights, almost every weekend there has been great and fabulous eye candy to indulge in, even the misfires – like “Tomorrowland” – had its scenic merits. The genre of the super heroic thriller had been leading the charge, and then the Mission: Impossible squad comes along to remind us that few do it better. Shouldn’t that be “nobody does it better”? Dammit!

”Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opens everywhere on July 31st, in regular and IMAX screenings. See local listings for IMAX theaters and show times. Featuring Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and Alec Baldwin. Screenplay written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2015 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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