SOMETIMES IT REALLY doesn’t matter how much talent you have at your disposal. If a story, any story for that matter, fails to offer up people with whom we can connect…care enough to root for or hiss at, then all we have is a plot without a center; action without purpose, sound and fury without meaning.
Tom Cruise’s latest, and we can but hope, last outing, as the bland character-less Ethan Hunt, is another overwrought restaging of Mission Impossible; an exercise in headache-inducing tedium.
For some reason, the IMF has been disbanded (sadly not Christine Lagarde’s IMF) by Alec Baldwin, sleeping through his role as CIA director Alan Hurley. Hunt must go on the run. He’s discovered that there’s a covert version of the Force who’s been destabilizing nations for the last several years (downing aircraft, blowing up factories, killing off politicians etc). But no-one believes him. So, with the help of a mysterious MI6 spy (Rebecca Ferguson… the stand out presence in this farrago) and his loyal team of IMF-fers, he must go it alone and save the world.
He runs and jumps, holds his breath for hours, hangs on to an airborne ‘plane, dodges machine gun bullets, mows down swarms of menacing motorcyclists, narrowly avoids getting kissed by a woman (whew!), kidnaps the British PM and tries everything he can possibly do to make us give a damn.
Sadly it’s an impossible mission.
“Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation” has a tremendous collection of talent. Christopher McQuarrie who directed, was one of the writers who gave us “The Usual Suspects”. Certainly his set piece action scenes, especially a long motorcycle chase, is grippingly well done. JJ Abrams of “Lost”, the charming “Super 8”, the nicely re-booted “Star Trek” and the only fun “Mission Impossible”: Ghost Protocol, is Hollywood’s latest whizz kid producer/director. Lalo Schifrin’s heart-thumping original score is beautifully enhanced by Joe Kramer. And the cast (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin) is, at least, solid.
The problem is partly the story, which never exhales long enough to invite us to relate to either the characters or the situation they’re in. It’s as though the producers weren’t confident enough that there was something worth engaging with, so they simply took the default route of piling on the action.
But that’s putting it nicely.
At its core, the problem is Tom, who try as he might, never ever convinces that he’s a real person. And I don’t mean his character, Ethan Hunt, I mean Tom himself. Since Tom Cruise became TOM CRUISE, the only convincing role he’s had has been that of Vincent, the cold, inhuman hit man of Michael Mann’s “Collateral”. Mann needed someone as soullessly robotic as Cameron’s Terminator; and he found it in Tom.
Director Christopher McQuarrie (who also directed Cruise in the failed “Jack Reacher”) seemed happy to go with the flow and voila! “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, a movie as soullessly robotic as its lead actor