Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) - dir. Christopher McQuarrie

McQuarrie burst onto the scene by penning the Usual Suspects, then he took a bit of a break after his directing debut - the Way of the Gun - fell flat. He’s since rebounded with a number of Tom Cruise vehicles, including his sophomore effort from behind the camera Jack Reacher and the scripts for Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow. But here, in McQuarrie’s third film as director, and the fifth in the Mission: Impossible franchise we find his best work as director and writer.

Spy films are, at this point, very hard to take seriously. Rogue Nation plays out as a comedy with a fun, breakneck plot. There’s a car chase, motorcycle chase, foot chase. We’re in the air, on the ground, and in the water. There’s a limited number of explosions, all of the action is filmed in a way where you actually know what’s going on, the dialogue is smart, and it’s pure entertainment throughout. Not only is Rogue Nation the best Mission: Impossible film yet, it would also be one of the best Bond films. Tom Cruise most certainly still has it, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg take turns with different styles as the comic relief, Jeremy Renner feels under-utilized but not in a disappointing way, and even the larger-than-life villain (played by Sean Harris, who we’ll be seeing late this year as Macduff) is the right blend of sadist and creep (those turtlenecks sure help).

The show is all Tom Cruise, from start to finish. But Rebecca Ferguson (unknown to most, though not a newcomer) doest her best to steal the show. Ferguson and Cruise pair up beautifully on screen, and their flirtatious action sequences succeed on many levels. But the only person who does a better job than Cruise or even McQuarrie (after some time, much like his previous films, the plot holes/devices become painfully obvious) is cinematographer Robert Elswit. I’ll update with some better screencaps upon the Blu Ray release, because nothing you can find right now does it justice. Rogue Nation is a handsome film, and the perfect popcorn-munching summer flick.

7.7

6

This scene originally was to be played as a very serious scene, however the actors kept cracking up with Benicio del Toro (as Fred Fenster) flubbing his lines. It eventualy became a constant laugh fest amongst the actors (leading Director Bryan Singer’s constant anger with the scene). But after reviewing the dailies, Singer realized that it actually played better into the character’s profiles.