Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Cruise’s ability to survive without injury tempts me to convert to Scientology.

Mission Impossible Rogue NationWith Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation we find Tom Cruise again delivering a performance that is tailor-made for his talents. Called upon to do very little acting, he simply has to look good while performing great stunts. The movie benefits from a decision to have Cruise defer to a collection of talented supporting actors to dominate the screen.

Regardless of Mr. Cruise’s reputation off the screen, and it is uniformly sad, he knows what it takes to make an action film work. As he did in the recent Edge of Tomorrow (2014), he can take a vicious licking, even dying, and find a way to come back better than ever.

As noted, the special effects in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation are a knockout from beginning to end. It is both ridiculous and enjoyable to watch Cruise hang on to the outside of a plane as it elevates off a runway; fly through glass doors; flee villains in his car as he catapults in reverse off of an elevated landing where everything is smashed to bits but him; wrecking a motorcycle at top speed and not even ripping his clothes as he rolls to the edge of a highway, etc, etc, etc.

And while you can make fun of Cruise’s antics all you want, the movie works because of some excellent performances from Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg and Sean Harris. Yes, both Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin have small roles that basically allow them to play themselves, but Ms. Ferguson is the star of this movie. She adds to the list of  actresses, including Charlize Theron in Mad Max; Fury Road, Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy and Michelle Rodriguez in Furious Seven, who can kick ass and take names. It is a joy to watch films where actresses are called upon to rescue men.

Simon Pegg is wonderful playing a computer genius with a diabolical sense of humor. He is one of the few actors who automatically brings a smile to your face.

Finally, a movie like Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation never works unless it has a credible villain, and Sean Harris is perfect as the leader of a mysterious organization known as The Syndicate. He is a heartless, brutal leader of a terrorist organization that horrifies you while continually commanding your attention.

The plot is largely irrelevant, but let me simply say that the I.M.F. has been disbanded by the CIA, forcing Cruise’s Ethan Hunt into seclusion as he seeks to dismantle The Syndicate. Destruction waits around every turn and fate will depend on whether Ilsa (Ms. Ferguson) is a friend or foe.

Let me conclude this review with a compliment to both Director Christopher McQuarrie and Ms. Ferguson. Unlike the female lead in this year’s Jurassic World, they have the good sense to require Ferguson to remove her high heels when running from enemies. I was waiting for Cruise to yell, “Kill me or love me, your choice. Just take me!”