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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 9, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation Review - Very Entertaining Popcorn Action Thriller

WE HAD FUN watching Tom Cruise's 5th "Mission Impossible" franchise movie, "Rogue Nation", which is as good as the last one, "Ghost Protocol". The opening sequence shows Tom as Ethan Hunt holding on for dear life on the door of an airplane as it's about to take off. It's a crazy stunt, but impressively done, and it's just the first in a series of daredevil sequences that show him holding his breath underwater while pulling a heist to get a red box data and figuring in a car chase that can give the "Fast and Furious" franchise a run for its money.

Tom's mission here is against a shadow organization of rogue spies called the Syndicate who are wreaking havoc all over the world blowing things up, destroying top companies and assassinating heads of states. Right after the credits, the Syndicate head, Mr. Lane (Sean Harris), manages to trap Tom and he wakes up about to be tortured by a bad guy known as the Bone Doctor, infamous for cracking and crunching the bones of his victims.

For some reason, he is rescue by one of his tormentors, Ilsa Faust (played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson who we first saw in the TV mini-series, "The White Queen"). It turns out she's working for the British secret service and, together, they try to put one over Mr. Lane.

Tom works for the IMF (not the International Monetary Fund but the Impossible Mission Force) and the current CIA director (Alec Baldwin) urges a Senate committe that it should now be dissolved and its operations just be absorbed by the CIA. Of course, Tom is against the idea. He returns in this movie with his former team mates: Simon Pegg as computer whiz Benji, Jeremy Renner as co-agent Brandt and Ving Rhames as the hacker Luther Stickell.

Never mind if the mission they're supposed to do seems a bit more preposterous than impossible. The important thing is that they make it all very entertaining as a summer popcorn action thriller. The movie goes on location to several beautiful exotic cities, most notably, Casablanca in Morocco. (Our son asks if this were the same "Casablanca" of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and, yes, it is. And that's why the leading lady here is also named Ilsa.)
The movie reunites Tom with writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar winner for "The Usual Suspects") who directed him in "Jack Reacher" and also wrote the scripts for his movies "Valkyrie" and "Edge of Tomorrow". This director succeeds as he knows that espionage films are basically tall tales told with much sense of humor.
He also wisely uses the familiar Lalo Schifrin theme music from the original 60s TV series, unlike previous flicks that tried to remix it. But he also uses the main theme of the opera, "Turandot", to great advantage. The sequence shot in the Vienna Opera House, where Tom encounters three different assassins out to kill the Austrian chancellor, is skillfully staged with the tension building up at a gradual pace.

As Ethan Hunt, Tom is now 53 years old but shows he can still be one hell of an action hero jumping and running and fighting nonstop. And he's generous to share the limelight with the second kick ass actress we've seen so far this year (the first one was Charlize Theron as Furiosa in "Fury Road"). Rebecca Ferguzon is one sexy femme fatale whose signature act is springing on the shoulders of her foes to kill them. The one thing intriguing about her is you're never sure if she's really an ally or an enemy of Tom, but they sure make one dynamite team.