20 August 2015
Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation
by Neil Tidmarsh
Which kind of spy thriller would you prefer to watch?
a) An old-fashioned, pre digital-age movie where the athletic hero captures the crucial top secret information by breaking into the evil genius’s headquarters, beating up the guards, out-running the vicious guard-dogs, blasting open the safe and escaping with the help of the baddy’s beautiful mistress who has seen the light, all the while racing against time because a trip-wire has started a count-down to the explosion of a huge bomb which will blow the whole place sky high…
b) A modern, digital-age movie where the athletic hero… sorry, the nerdy geek gets the crucial top secret information by tapping at his key-board.
Not much of a contest, is it?
Or would you rather;
c) Have both! With, as a bonus, the athletic hero played by Tom Cruise on mature top form (the irritating cockiness and false intensity of the young Cruise now a fading memory, and his recently discovered gift for light comedy still a thing of amazement and pleasure) and the nerdy geek played by Simon Pegg at his best (I’m not going to mention ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ or ‘Absolutely Anything’).
Of course you would!
Rest assured, the new Mission Impossible movie is an efficient blend of the old-fashioned and the new-fangled. You may feel like groaning when the geek Benji (Pegg) looks up from his computer and informs super-spy Ethan (Cruise) that the McGuffin is computerised, super-secure, encrypted, digitalised, etc, etc; and when Ethan asks “But where is it?”, you may feel like shouting “In cyber-space, of course, you idiot! In the baddy’s virtual cloud! Now excuse me if I go to sleep for the rest of the movie while Benji taps at his key-board to hack into it (yawn).” But wait – when Benji replies “Morocco!” you feel like cheering. Sure enough, cue picture-postcard shots of exotic locations, sinister remote desert complex, bikini-clad kick-ass heroine emerging from swimming-pool, motor-bike chases, count-downs, punch-ups, underwater obstacle courses.
Yes, ‘Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation’ is as thrilling, amusing and full of suspense as a mission impossible movie should be. The plot might be silly, over the top and tongue in cheek, but that doesn’t matter as long as the script and the acting aren’t, and neither of them are. The script – by Christopher McQuarrie, who also directs – is sharp, crisp, amusing and briskly informative of character and plot-context. And its ‘friendship, loyalty, trust’ issues are just enough to anchor the otherwise inconsequential thrills in human drama without slowing them down. The set-piece scenes are great – especially the assassination attempt at the Vienna opera house. There’s a real star-turn from Rebecca Fergusson as the deadly female lead, and a pleasantly unpleasant performance from Alec Baldwin. Having said that, Jeremy Renner is wasted again (who could forget him as Ben Affleck’s dangerous mate in ‘The Town’?), though he looks more comfortable now that he has a more distinct role than the Ethan Hunt mini-me he had to play in the previous outing.
Will there be yet another ‘Mission Impossible’ movie? Who knows? I’ve already forgotten how many we’ve had so far, though I do remember I didn’t care much for the early ones – so I’m all the more grateful that the last two have been so enjoyable. It would be churlish to demand even more.