Some of you hate Tom Cruise like I hate Jon Voight. Maybe because he's weird with his Scientology or because he jumped on a couch once. But hey, as long as he delivers the goods, it's okay if he worships a serpent god in his private life (that is what Scientology is, right?). And I hate to break the bad news to the haters, but he delivers all over the place in Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation.
Rogue Nation brings back Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Ving Rhames to the party, while adding Alec Baldwin, brilliant British character actor Sean Harris, and Rebecca Ferguson, who will be huge because she is flawless. But while the supporting cast is uniformly excellent, this is Cruise's show and he'll be damned if he doesn't earn his millions with every second he spends on screen.
The plot sounds rote when describing it, but in execution it flows immaculately. The Impossible Missions Force has been disbanded by the Senate. So Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must go rogue to find the cheesily titled Syndicate, that is making moves to reshape the world. See, the leader of the Syndicate, Solomon Lane (Harris) is a crazy ex-MI6 and he just wants to basically burn everything down and start from scratch.
Hunt and his team partner up with Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), a disavowed MI6 officer sporting the greatest name anyone has ever had. The film has this delightful structure of "Oh hell, we need this MacGuffin to stop them," followed by an excellent action or suspense set-piece, which then leads them onto the next MacGuffin and next show-stopping sequence.
And that's the thing: Rogue Nation is old-fashioned badass. While there are some computer-generated effects, most of the action scenes ratchet up the tension by having Cruise doing a lot of his own stunts. Over the last few years, he has secretly become Jackie Chan, hanging off of the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai for MI:4 and flipping through the air a bunch for Edge of Tomorrow, but he kicks it up several notches here. Whether he is hanging off the side of an ascending airplane or speeding on a motorcycle, he is always earning your 12 bucks.
Rebecca Ferguson is an instant movie star here, as she simultaneously seems timeless and impeccably modern. She excels as an action star, love interest, and intellectual equal and comes out of the film as its most intriguing character.
Director Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Usual Suspects and driving force behind the criminally under seen Jack Reacher) structures the film flawlessly, making each moment either propel the plot forward or give a character some shading. Moments when the plot might seem a bit contrived, McQuarrie moves things along before you can question it.
This film won't win Cruise any new supporters and he might not have the widest range as an actor, but no one works harder to entertain an audience than he does. If he weren't rich and famous, he would be the guy in a magic show who lies down on broken glass while audience members walk on him. C'mon. Let the man entertain you. He really, REALLY wants to.
Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Now playing at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX