Most franchises start with the best entry and get progressively worse, eg Jurassic Park or Spider-man trilogies. Some produce entries of equal quality, for example all the Lord Of The Rings films are excellent and all of the Twilight and Transformers films are complete and utter, abominable and intolerable shit!
Mission Impossible, however, ignores these popular models; good first entry, average second entry, slightly worse third, an excellent 4th… and now an excellent 5th movie! Amazing considering the characters are already old and the star, Tom Cruise, is even older! Let’s be honest, action movies tend to be a young man’s game, Neeson and Arnie aside. This entry is directed by Chris McQuarrie.
Here is the trailer:
Looks fun doesn’t it!
It is. Action movies are not new, they are too many, they are big budget and little thought. Even worse is that M.I is not a new franchise! Yet despite this being Cruise’s 5th outing as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, we are given a smart, stylish, witty and entertaining action movie. Definitely give it a watch.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg) and field operations director Brandt (Jeremy Renner) have been following a bread crumb trail of disasters left by an enigmatic and shrouded organisation known as the Syndicate. Hunt’s briefing in London is compromised by the Syndicate, who capture him with the aim of turning him or breaking him. A mysterious double agent within the Syndicate, Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), helps him escape drawing significant suspicion upon herself. Meanwhile in Washington, the IMF is deactivated and acquired by the CIA who believe the Syndicate is a figment of Hunt’s imagination to justify the existence of the IMF. With no one to help and no where to go, Hunt and his team, including old friend Luther (Ving Rhames), must find and defeat the Syndicate before the CIA can get to them.
So… first of all, the action set pieces. They are great and small but IMPRESSIVE; from sprawling ciity vehicle chases, to complex heists and Tom Cruise actually strapped to a plane. All filmed with clever direction, shooting and editing. I especially enjoyed the fight scenes, beautifully choreographed, like a dance. What made them so great to watch is that the camera was steady and without editing cuts. This means you can actually tell what is going on, whereas most movies like a fight/battle to have shaky/spinning/zooming cameras with constant jump-cuts and grey-wash colour pallets to ensure maximum confusion and utter pointlessness. It doesn’t matter how much danger your characters are in if we can’t tell what is going on! My only complaint here would be that the CGI is occasionally shoddy, particularly the motorbike chase scenes which look like something from a video game.
Next up, Tom Cruise. Your local, fun loving, confident, Scientology socio-path (see below). Of late, Mr Cruise has been a bit unhinged which has diminished his appeal somewhat. Personally I still enjoy his films, I just wouldn’t want him to check my Thetan levels. He was commanding onscreen, charismatic and charming. Funny where needed and the die-hard physical, intelligent action hero we know the rest of the time. It was a very strong performance and neither this film nor the preceding Ghost Protocol would have worked without it.
Also, if the guy wants to strap himself to the outside of a plane for the sake of a realistic action film. Good for him, Ill cut him a bit of slack.
This genre of movies is rife with cliché, many of them due to Mr TC himself. So here is a list of them for your entertainment: NB/ Those in bold are MI specific
- Shots of TC running (x3)
- Shots of TC riding a motorbike
- And to complete the action hero triathlon. TC swims
- The villain is British.
- Gratuitous shot of woman’s bum whilst in an appealing dress
- ”Gratuitous” shot of a woman in a bikini
- The word ”disavowed” is used
- Good guys disobey superiors for the greater good
- Foreign mercenaries for TC to beat up (Eastern European preferable)
- Using every single trick in the book to make TC look taller than 5’5”
- An amazing face mask that somehow makes your body-shape match too (Kind of anyway)
This brings me onto my next point. This is a great film and still it contains the clichés above and probably many others. However, they are not over the top or silly and they all serve a valid plot point. For example, the ”girl in a bikini” is not just a ”money shot”, like any Bond girl in any Bond movie (There are too many examples to list here! Google it! Carefully!), but serves a purpose. Ilsa is using a pool in Casablanca to test her breath holding capacity to successfully complete her mission. The camera doesn’t linger as she leaves the pool and she quickly dresses in a towel before continuing her conversation with her male counterparts. Good job film!
One of the best things about the film is in fact the treatment of Rebecca Ferguson, the female lead. She doesn’t need anyone’s help because she is just as and often more capable than her male counterparts. She is smart, witty and NOT just window dressing. Her character serves and furthers the plot in her own right not by just helping a man see the right thing to do. Furthermore she was incredible in her fight scenes; elegant, powerful and strong. Even better is the fact Rebecca isn’t 20 and incredibly thin but she is 31 and looks strong, athletic and healthy. A great message for all! She does look great but that’s a by product of being in film, because everyone does, but she brings a maturity and mystique to her character which is captivating to watch. Also she is the centre-point during the first part of the final action sequence and TC is the human shield, a lovely twist.
Granted, she doesn’t have a female co-star to talk with so bye-bye Bechdel test. BUT this franchise has a poor track-record with women. Remember, TC’s romance with Thandie Newton in MI2? NO, well that’s because they swapped her in for TC’s new on-screen wife Michelle Monaghan in MI3. Who, because she did nothing on screen, was consequently dropped from this film. As well as dropping Paula Patton after her good performance in Ghost Protocol. Hopefully, they have learned their lessons! Plus, Ferguson takes her heels off during an action scene which playfully shines a light on some of Jurassic Worlds artistic license! They both fit with the tone of their movies; MI5 is realistic and tense where Jurassic World is about losing yourself in an out of this world and extraordinary story, where running away from a super-powered dinosaur through a rainforest is completely plausible.
Pegg and Renner’s characters help to provide natural moments of comic relief within the chaos, these breaks in intensity and tone are not forced (see Age Of Ultron for reference) and help propel the movie forward. This way their characters help provide the heart and soul to Hunt’s cold, dedicated intensity.
Anyway, this is a great film. Watch it. Enjoy it!
”THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN 5 SECONDS”
”I CAN NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY ANY SPECIFIC ACTION WITHOUT THE SECRETARY’S APPROVAL.”