"Blu-ray or Bust"
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015, PG-13, 131 minutes, BAD ROBOT/SKYDANCE)
I hate to admit it, but lately, I’ve kinda been enjoying Tom Cruise movies.
I know, I know, I’m supposed to not like him (see: JACK REACHER, ROCK OF AGES, KNIGHT AND DAY), yet lately…well…he hasn’t really been acting all Tom Cruisey now, has he? (see: EDGE OF TOMORROW, OBLIVION, M:I: GHOST PROTOCAL)
ROGUE NATION furthers the anti-Cruise Cruise movement; not only does he get beat up and beat down, but he also seems more willing lately to let other actors shine. Like someone slapped him a good one, right in that chiseled kisser of his, and said, “HEY! BITCH-CAKE! There’s other people in the movie, you know!”
Case in point: Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner. Pegg plays scene stealer “Benji”, the electronics guru of the bunch. He is not the only source of comedy in the film, but he is one of the most reliable as far as the Average Joe moniker goes. Yes, he’s a spy, but he’s a down-to-earth nerdy spy. Renner is unflappable as head honcho “Brandt”, who keeps busy trying to keep the CIA off of Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) back for a good portion of the film.
There, however, is where ROGUE missteps. In a plot-point not unfamiliar to the franchise, the IMF is shut down, and the agents are left to fend for themselves against 'The Syndicate', an unseen criminal organization responsible for several disasters/attacks. The stunts and action scenes are as over-the-top thrilling as you would expect, including a motorcycle chase that blows away the boring one from the second film. But some of the plot seems rehashed, and not as fresh as GHOST PROTOCAL was. There really is only so much you can do in a spy film to make it seem fresher than the others in the market, which is where some of those crazy-ass stunts come into play.
And there are several set pieces designed to thrill and keep you on the edge of your seat. Cruise serves as a producer on this film, and his adrenalin-rush boyish charm is stamped all over this production. Not a bad thing; seeing him do his own stunt-work keeps the movie feeling real, makes the danger involved an imminent and palpable third character.
Of course I’m going to demand you see this on Blu-ray. There are at least three different versions on the format, and it all depends on how deeply you want to infiltrate the filmmaking process. The best includes a piece on the on-set editing, and another that shows more behind-the-stunts than you thought you ever wanted. Very good presentation on Blu-ray, and worth the extra dollars.
As of this writing, the sixth installment of the franchise is in pre-production. Whether the money behind the films can keep the sequels improving with each one remains to be seen, but this much is true: since J.J. Abrams directed the third, I’ve all but been able to forget the second one. Keep ‘em coming, Tom, just be careful. Good luck trying to top that motorcycle chase.
Film Grade: A-
Special Features: A
Blu-ray Necessary: Most Definitely