Tom Cruise, ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ get it done | Movie Review |

Tom Cruise, ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ get it done | Movie Review

Tom Cruise appears in a scene from "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation."
AP | Paramount Pictures


* * * (B)

• Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

• Starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris

• Rated PG-13, Action, 131 minutes

Tom Cruise’s short stature and feminine facial features do not bring the word “athletic” to mind. Yet, in this latest “Mission: Impossible” film (tagged “Rogue Nation”), Cruise’s physicality is undeniable.

Whether hanging from the fuselage of a plane in flight, engaging in a high-speed motorcycle chase or struggling to hold his breath while accomplishing an impossible underwater feat, the film’s promo claims it’s all Tom all the time. If the claim isn’t true, then kudos to the special effect team that fakes it.

In “Rogue Nation” Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team, consisting of smart analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), tech genius Benji (Simon Pegg) and longtime trusted associate Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), attempt to track and take down the Syndicate, an evil organization led by the quietly nefarious Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

Back in the U.S., CIA chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) makes certain the IMF team’s accomplishments appear so incompetent and a matter of dumb luck that a special Senate committee agrees to immediately dissolve the IMF. Hunley absorbs its members into the CIA, all except Ethan Hunt, who is labeled a wanted man and obliged to go rogue. Having traced the whereabouts of Syndicate leader Solomon Lane, Hunt finds unexpected methods of contacting IMF members to obtain their help.

The film increases its dramatic arc by placing Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) in Ethan’s path. Supposedly a dead British intelligence agent, Ilsa claims to have infiltrated the Syndicate in order to take them down. However, Ilsa double crosses Ethan and his crew more than once by providing Solomon with their location and information Ethan and friends have obtained.

If Ilsa’s finagling is intended to produce either mystery or add to the IMF team’s sense of urgency, these gambits fail. Yet, when viewed from the perspective of Ilsa’s attempts to negotiate her own complicated circumstances or as a means of proving her abilities, the story succeeds rather well. Perhaps too well, as it is ultimately Ilsa, rather than Hunt, who earns our empathy and becomes the film’s most endearing character.

Cast as something of a femme fatale, we soon learn that Ilsa is much more. She is caught in a no-woman’s land more complex than the difficulties Hunt confronts.

Though somewhat bloated and, we suspect, cast solely to bolster Cruise’s action-hero status, the film has enough exciting action sequences and a sufficient number of well-drawn characters to hold it together.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie; who also wrote the last installment, “Ghost Protocol;” this chapter is a bit less involving and feels overly slick.

But, should the series choose to include Ferguson’s effective and sympathetic Ilsa in coming chapters (rather than treating her as yet another disposable female lead), my regard for the series will rise. Ferguson accomplishes an unexpected mission by becoming the film’s most impossible champion.

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