Whether he’s clinging to the side of an Airbus plane or holding his breath for a seemingly interminable amount of time, you cannot take your eyes off of Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.”
In a summer filled with superheroes, sequels to films of ’90s past, and countless Warner Bros. movies, the fifth instalment to the “Mission: Impossible” series is probably the most fun you’re going to have at theatres all summer.
The plot, which revolves around a secret criminal organisation called the Syndicate which is trying to eradicate Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) is fine, but admit it, if you’re heading out to see this film, it’s for one reason and one reason alone — to watch a 53-year-old Cruise performing ridiculous stunt after ridiculous stunt.
Paramount made that clear from its big marketing promotion for the film showcasing the actor, who insists on doing his own stunts, hanging dramatically from the side of plane as jet fuel was coming right at him.
It’s been touted in every billboard, poster, and most trailers for the film. And for good reason. When everyone found out Cruise was actually the one climbing aboard that plane, hanging on for his life at 5,000 feet from the sky, people were excited. He’s doing that — at WHAT age? Paramount even released a featurette on making the scene which included Cruise saying he was “scared s–less” before take off.
The best part?
That plane scene is just the start of “Rogue Nation.”
My colleague and I were both surprised that the most heavily marketed scene in the film came at the very beginning, especially after trailers for Paramount’s last big summer release, July 1’s “Terminator: Genisys”, gave away some of the biggest spoilers in the film.
From there, the film steps firmly on the gas pedal and never really relents. Throughout much of “M:I5” it’s often Cruise trying to top himself by performing an even crazier stunt than the last as he goes from speeding BMWs to motorcycles on freeways hopping from destination to destination like Austria, Morocco, and then London.
There’s a moment early on where Cruise muscles his way up a pole while handcuffed and barefoot, using sheer upper body strength to power himself free and take on a guy named the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten). It’s times like that where you’ll wonder to yourself, “No really? How is he doing these stunts? He’s 53.” (P.S. This is how. And THIS is how.)
And seriously. If you thought the plane scene looked crazy, it’s really not even Cruise’s best stunt.
In what is easily the best part of the film, Cruise dives off a 120-foot ledge into an underwater safe to swap out computer keycards and help Benji gain access into a building. In the film, Cruise’s character preps himself for three minutes of time underwater. What makes this scene so extraordinary is knowing that Cruise is really holding his breath the ENTIRE time this sequence is playing. And, it’s not just for three minutes, either. The actor prepped for weeks to learn how to hold his breath for over six minutes while performing the scene.
You get immersed in this scene, hearing Cruise’s heartbeat reverberate through the giant underwater chamber. You may as well be in there with him. When Cruise begins to struggle underwater, making gagging reflexes, the sound of his heart racing in your ear as you’re unsure if he’ll complete his mission, you almost can’t help but hold your breath yourself.
Another stand-out scene includes Cruise tracking down villain Soloman Lane (Sean Harris) and the syndicate at the Vienna Opera House in Austria. Cruise does his best balancing act atop moving stage lights sneaking up on and fighting a Syndicate member timed perfectly to the beautiful backdrop of Turandot’s “Nessun Dorma.” (Curiously, this is the second time I can think of where we’ve heard the classical piece in popular culture. It popped up earlier this year in Netflix’s riveting first season of “Daredevil.”)
After stealing the spotlight in May’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Jeremy Renner sadly takes a backseat in his second blockbuster spectacle of the summer.
There can only be one real IMF agent in this film and it is definitely not Hawkeye. Instead, Renner spends a good half of the film essentially as the IMF’s lap dog. He’s like the Robin to Cruise’s Batman, except he has to stay in the Batmobile for most of the film, only allowed out to help fight the bad guys in the final leg of the film. Even then, it’s Cruise who’s doing most of the heavy lifting.
And really, that’s the film’s biggest pitfall. If it weren’t for Cruise and his comedic sidekick Benji (Simon Pegg), this film wouldn’t be all that exciting. (Though it is enjoyable to watch Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson take down men barefoot one moment and wield a sniper in a revealing dress the next.)
The villain — played by a robotic, stiff Sean Harris — doesn’t seem all that dangerous. Once he and Cruise finally go head to head, it doesn’t take much for Cruise to get his way.
I’d be remiss not to give a shoutout to Ving Rhames, who has been in all five M:I films. The man doesn’t have many lines, but he makes every moment on screen count. Plenty of laughs from the audience for him.
Speaking of laughs, the best line in the film goes to Alec Baldwin. Yeah, he’s in this, too, as CIA chief Alan Hunley. No spoiler here. You’ll know the line when you hear it. He delivers it to Cruise in a pivotal moment.
Overall, Cruise carries the film on his back (a feat which the actor would probably try to accomplish if physically possible), which is kind of funny considering there was a time when Paramount reportedly wanted to fire the star from the franchise.
One other quibble — M:I5 is a lengthy 131 minutes long. While it doesn’t necessarily drag on, the action scenes all feel the perfect length, it just feels a trite longer than it needs to be. That’s really all to say there.
“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” — come for the catchy theme song and characters you know, stay for the ridiculous Tom Cruise action stunts.
“M:I5” is in theatres nationwide Friday, July 31.
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