MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION makes me happy as all hell! I sat in on many panels at the AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL centered around Christopher McQuarrie, with Chris there answering sharper than any other writer / director I’ve seen talk. His WAY OF THE GUN is just a tremendously under watched masterpiece of violence cinema! James Caan is gold in that film, and the soundtrack and geometry of action – well… I LOVE IT.
JACK REACHER came 12 years after, what will one day be recognized as a masterpiece WAY OF THE GUN. BTW have I mentioned how much I fucking love WAY OF THE GUN? Cuz, I do. Just saying.
So film #3 in the Christopher McQuarrie director world… and its MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION and it feels like McQuarrie is channeling Hitchcock adventure and compositions, with truly outrageous practical and who knows stunts.
I mean, that AIRPLANE gag you’ve seen in the trailers and heard talked about in interviews that makes you think that Tom Cruise must have a death wish. It is essentially an audacious crazy visual, that sets up an utterly insane interior shot, you’ve not yet seen, but holy shit – it was crazy and made me sympathetically feel for the safety of Mr. Cruise’s Ethan!
As I’m writing this review, I’m rewatching John Woo’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE… which is the biggest stumble of the franchise, but only… I want to refresh my memory of the motorcycle chase, before I get to writing about that part of this new film.
In some ways, the movie feels like Ethan Hunt by way of James Bond by way of Snake Plissken by way of Hitchcock class. There’s less pre-prep instructions, and actual doing instead. This is thrilling stuff.
This is super secret agency versus super secret agency versus CIA kind of shit – and it’s cool as hell. I mean, after the crazy fucking plane opening – and it’s a bit of a smash opening. The ignition of the fuse! Too cool!
Then we’re into Congressional Oversight Politics and Ethan on the run, chasing a phantom evil agency that must be stopped that only he can see. Cast Simon Pegg as Cary Grant in this chapter. He wins free tickets to an Austrian opera, and soon he’s at the Opera house and a part of an attempt to assassinate the Chancellor of Austria… kinda what kick started a tiny skirmish called WWII back in 1934, but here… because Ethan is involved – and has the writer of VALKYRIE, where Cruise was trying to kill Hitler… I love the metaphorical time travel plot… But then, maybe I’m crazy.
Then we have a road trip adventure to Casablanca with Ethan Hunt and Benji Dunn to do the IMPOSSIBLE break-in gag of the film. What is unleashed is the one Set-up sequence of the film, followed by the execution, which is pretty fricken phenomenal, but then turns into an insane car chase that turns into an insane motorcycle chase… AND FOLKS – if your heart isn’t pumping blood through your organs as to give you a rush by that, you could be dead.
Each segment of that sequence is visually exhilarating. Meticulously tense. And then there’s this actress, Rebecca Ferguson. If Tom Cruise is the Fred Astaire of modern Action films, Rebecca Ferguson is doing her damnedest to be either his Ginger Rogers or Eleanor Powell. I mean, DAMN, Rebecca’s super top secret double probably triple agent Ilsa Faust is just about perfect. Love her throughout this film, and in the motorcycle chase. HOLY SHIT! Love her!
The motorcycle chase in this thing is friggin crackle nuts! - But before that, the car chase with Benji – and then the really crazy state that Cruise’s Ethan is in right there. I mean… Watch Cruise’s face – he really looks messed up here and it’s great! It’s like they suffocated him between takes or something.
But that’s because of the Water chute thing which was also fantastic! The whole reverse ABYSS of it all was great. Then things begin going bananas in a good way. I haven’t mentioned Alec Baldwin being the asshole from the CIA throughout the film. Nor have I discussed Renner’s Brandt and Rhames’ Luther doing their own buddy film.
But if you’re not freaking out over the crazy shit Cruise is doing, you’ll be freaking over Rebecca Ferguson…
Unless you’re exactly like me and you want a BENJI UNLEASHED movie, because every second of Simon Pegg is a gift from the Elder Gods. The final act of the film feels like a bit of an amped up THIRD MAN rift, but with patented badass MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE gigawatting!
Another aspect of the film that just kicks ass is Joe Kraemer’s score for ROGUE NATION. He’s scored each of McQuarrie’s films and I love all three scores!
Back to the motorcycle sequence. It’s a million times more badass than the Motorcycle ending of M:I:2 of Woo’s. One, it’s not about tricky motorcycle impossible gunfu bullshit, but instead masterful use of speed and the environment and a quarter second of a distraction! This motorcycle chase is just tremendous. I really can’t wait to go check it out at the IMAX. It must be done!
Lastly, let’s discuss Simon McBurney’s creepy super baddy. He’s totally an evil out of control James Bond… or essentially a less mega-creepy Javier Bardem’s Silva… but the notion of a good agent gone bad works very well here. Trying to mix a bit of that TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY out-maneuvering of moves. But we have faith in Ethan’s moves. In this film, he’s treated as a legendary agent. Even when he goes to get his initial mission, the lovely lady asks if he is really him! And Ethan shoots her that smile! FUCK YEAH! I BLEW UP THE KREMLIN!!!
McQuarrie gives Cruise a great swagger with Ethan here. I’d love to see them do a Rio Bravo with the team. An impossible siege they have to survive. I also want MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE missions from different eras – future and past!
I can’t wait to take Yoko to this on Saturday! It is a superbly crafted action adventure. Another film that blows your mind that Simon Pegg is in. I just love that the world was fabulous enough to put him in this franchise. He’s obviously its ROCK! Giggle!