Friday, July 31, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

3/4

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames

Rated PG-13 for Sequences of Action and Violence, and for Brief Partial Nudity

The "Mission: Impossible" franchise, based on the TV series from the has always been reliable for dumb, but fun, entertainment.  But the question is, has the franchise run out of gas?

This newest entry into the long-running series boasts a great premise: a secret organization called The Syndicate dedicated to carrying out acts of terror around the globe.  They're highly trained and very successful.  Naturally, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is on their trail, but he's gone rogue.  At the insistence of CIA director Alan Hunley (Baldwin), the IMF has been disavowed (despite their success, they have been responsible for a substantial amount of death and destruction).  Because Ethan refuses to come in, he has been labeled a traitor.  Now he and Benji (Pegg), the one guy who has stuck by his side completely (Brandt (Renner), is playing both sides to stall for time), are after a pretty woman named Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), who is the right-hand lady of Solomon Lane (Harris), the leader of the Syndicate.  But is she really a double agent, or is she merely playing the part.

To its credit, co-writer/director Christopher McQuarrie remembers that the "Mission: Impossible" franchise is not James Bond.  The film's plot relies mainly on espionage and double, or even triple, plays.  It's mostly coherent, but there are times when Ethan Hunt feels more like 007 than a spy (who is a spy, but you know what I mean).

The action sequences, and there are a number of them, are sensational.  There's no denying that.  They're well-constructed and exciting.  Not groundbreaking, but they get the job done.  However, there are so many of them and they are so over-the-top that they cause the film to lose its identity.  Action movies are increasingly having to up the ante to bring in the big bucks, but as a result, this movie feels generic.  You wouldn't have to change much to plug this story into a different franchise.

It's also lacking a decent villain.  Few things are more threatening than a secret organization that is pulling the strings behind the scenes.  "The Game," an underrated thriller, proves that.  McQuarrie tries to make The Syndicate like that, but it doesn't really work.  They're on screen too much, and as a result, they seem like every other villainous entity.  It also doesn't help that Sean Harris is about as threatening as a housecat.

Still, I admit that I was entertained.  I wasn't bored and it raised my adrenaline at the appropriate places.  Still, I couldn't help feeling like this feels exactly like every other action movie out there these days.

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