James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
In MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, Tom Cruise hangs from a moving plane. Not a highly paid stuntman, but the actual Tom Cruise. This guy doesn’t have to do these sort of things, but he does and his exceptional work does not go unnoticed. He continues to leave audiences with mouth agape and this entry marks his fifth time he has played the eternally elusive Ethan Hunt. Cruise has chiefly been the one who has pushed this franchise to new and daring heights. The first MISSION IMPOSSIBLE was a concentrated espionage film that was married to the titular 1960’s television program. Fast forward 19 years and $2.1 billion dollars later, the series terraformed into a franchise that still has jet fuel running through its veins. MI:5 is the earnest and free-wheeling spy film we have always wanted.
At one point, intelligence expert Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) says, “This isn’t our plan B; this is technically a plan C.” What works so well about the action set-pieces in MI:5 is it feels like improv, despite the inherent trappings of the film. At no point are the stunts predictable, especially a Moroccan motorcycle chase that has Hunt cruising the streets like he’s Evel Knievel, plus a double shot of adrenaline. And the best part is, he doesn’t even mess up those beautiful brunette locks (Also remember this guy is 53 going on 27!) MI:5 is in the same vein as FURIOUS7, there’s no point in worrying about the logic, because the action has a royal flush while logic is only worth maybe two pair at best.
Director Christopher McQuarrie has yet to work on such a scale with so many moving parts. He uses elements of suspense from his past efforts (most notably THE USUAL SUSPECTS) to infuse the sleuthing tactics of the IMF crew, who find themselves as luck would have it on the run as the agency has been dissolved into the CIA. Hunt has to use all of his cunning to lay low from CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), in order to stop the militant terrorist cell called “The Syndicate,” led by the uber creepy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Lane is the kind of villain that can’t trump the fantastic turn of Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III, but his Nosferatu meets a rat aesthetic is a job well done for the icy idealism of his persona (No disrespect to the actual Sean Harris).
McQuarrie shows that he is dedicated to providing the laughs, which works best when the team are doting about together. William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is relegated to the sidelines with Hunley to help sift through the red tape, but when he and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) argue about their choice of getaway vehicle, it’s pure comedy. And, of course, Benji is bumbling about haphazardly being a bad ass.
Hunt has chronically being underestimated by his superiors and foes in these later MISSION IMPOSSIBLE films, but maybe now that he’s clearly a force to be reckoned with, a sixth installment could have him battling wits with a formidable force who is his equal. If that’s even possible.
MISSION-IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION opens tonight at 8 p.m. in participating theaters, and releases everywhere tomorrow.