Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

Posted on July 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Constant action-style violence, guns, chases, explosions, knives
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: July 31, 2015
Date Released to DVD: December 14, 2015
Amazon.com ASIN: B012XYP82U
Copyright Paramount 2015
Copyright Paramount 2015

You think you’ve seen it before? Well, it is a familiar situation. Hitchcock had an assassin waiting in a concert hall for the right moment to shoot and our hero trying to stop it — twice, in the original “Man Who Knew Too Much” and the endlessly repeating “Que Sera Sera” remake. There was something along those lines in “Foul Play,” too, with Dudley Moore conducting. And you’ve seen four earlier “Mission Impossible” movies with Tom Cruise already. So you think you know where this is going? You are wrong. You’ve never seen this.

“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” is the action movie of the year, with stunts and chases that are dazzling in conception and execution. You know that amazing shot from the trailer with Tom Cruise hanging on to the outside of a plane as it takes off, the G-force coming at him like a locomotive and his legs dangling off the side as the ground disappears below? I’ll bet you thought that was the movie’s climax — in any other movie it would be. In any other year it would stand out as the best we saw. But in this film, they’re just getting started. It’s over by the time the credits come on, so we can get down to the real stuff.

Testifying before Congress we have angry bureaucrat Henley (Alec Baldwin) and imperturbable IMF chief Brandt (Jeremy Renner) responding to questions about some of the activities of the Impossible Mission Force, following that Russian blow-out in the last movie. Soon IMF is shut down, just as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is (1) finally learning about this movie’s bad guys, known as The Syndicate, and (2) captured.

Good thing he’s been doing his ab exercises, because his hands are cuffed behind a pole, so some very impressive legwork is going to be needed to get him up and over. Hunt manages to escape with the help of a beautiful and mysterious women named Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) who is either on his side or not.

They next meet up at the Vienna Opera House where a brilliantly-staged instant classic sequence has Hunt and a would-be assassin fighting while a production of “Turandot” is going on below — and a head of state is enjoying it with his wife from their box seats.  Coming up: a wild motorcycle chase scene and an underwater adventure with no oxygen tanks allowed.

So who cares if they keep referring to a thumb drive as a disk, the concept of “The Syndicate” is as weak and unimaginative as its name, and the final confrontation is logistically impossible? It is enormous fun, and Cruise is a master at the top of his game. There are exotic locations, the stunts and actions scenes are intricate and clever, and, of course, the fate of the world is at stake just as our heroes are entirely on their own. We know that the IMF team will be disavowed if they are caught; that’s the end of the assignment messages, just before they self-destruct. This is the fifth film; we think we know how this goes.

But we start getting surprises right from the beginning as writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”) knows where the twists go (this is not your usual monologuing hero and villain) and Cruise knows just how to deploy his endless movie star sizzle. My favorite moment in the movie is the look on his face in the middle of a flight scene when his adversary pulls out yet another weapon and Cruise gives him (and us) a look that says, “Dude. Really?”

McQuarrie wisely gives Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner some screen time, and the sizzling Ferguson is Hunt’s equal in fight skills, spycraft, and keeping everyone else guessing. The real Mission Impossible is topping the earlier films in the series plus upstarts like “Fast/Furious.” Challenge accepted.

Parents should know that this film includes constant spy-style action, peril, and violence, guns, knives, chases, explosions, characters injured and killed, and brief nudity.

Family discussion: How did Ethan decide who was trustworthy? Should Ethan have notified the British authorities of the threat? Should real spies behave like this?

If you like this, try: The four earlier “Mission Impossible” movies and the “Bourne” series

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Action/Adventure Based on a television show DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Series/Sequel Spies
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