The Best Popcorn Flick of the Summer
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015): Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate - an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.
I can already imagine people getting upset with me at that tagline. But, you have to remember what "popcorn flick" means. Does it mean the film is trying to create a heavy-handed, important theme? No. Does it mean there's some big story where you're supposed to feel for the characters by the end and the hardships they go through? Absolutely not. No. A popcorn flick is a big stupid action movie. But it's a big stupid action movie that is FUN. It's fun! And that's exactly what MI: V is. A big stupid action movie that is an absolute blast to watch. The film essentially moves from one action set-piece to the next, with some exposition spouted in between that's really just an opportunity for the audience to catch their breath. I mean I hardly remember anything about it already, and I just saw it yesterday. Apparently there's an anti-IMF out there hellbent on toppling world governments and responsible for things like the 2008 financial collapse that somehow the entire world's intelligence community, short of one nation and Ethan Hunt, have not even heard of? Right. Sure. But that's not the point of this film. This is not a Marvel film. You're not supposed to try and figure out the implications the film has in the "Marvel Comic Universe." You're not supposed to analyze Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Because as soon as you do, you'll see some pretty glaring flaws. No. This film is a film where you sit down, turn your brain off, grab some popcorn, and enjoy 131 minutes of mindless, but fun as hell, action.
Some of you might recall from my early days that I would use this same defense for mindless comedy films too. Well, here's the big difference between a mindless action movie and a mindless comedy: an action movie in 2015 is still held to a high standard of technical specification. There's editing, cool lighting cues, sound mixing, and of course, special effects in an action film. Comedies of today that are mindless are essentially lightly edited bits of improvisation. So, while there's absolutely no substance here in MI: V, the film is still technically creative and makes the overall experience much more positive visually. On top of that, there's some actual acting in this film. Yes, Tom Cruise is in it. Get over it. The man is right there with George Clooney and Tom Hanks today as being the closest thing we have to movie stars. Yes, there's obligatory Tom Cruise running scenes. Yes, there's an obligatory Tom Cruise-riding-a-motorcycle-without-a-helmet scene. But the man is still a freaking movie star, and his charm and charisma shine through and through here once again. And he fills out the roll just as well as he did in the original Mission Impossible (which is a TERRIBLE movie nowadays....it has not aged well even in the slightest) 20 years ago. But the real star here is Rebecca Fergusson. Her character is the only character with any substance behind them, and she does a fantastic job of being the "which side is she on?" agent. Director Christopher McQuarrie made a great find here with Fergusson, a complete unknown, as she more than handled herself alongside the likes of Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg. And while yes, there is plenty of unnecessary objectification of her character, Fergusson does make up for it by being a complete badass. She even owns Tom Cruise on more than one occasion, which made for some of the best moments of the film.
Finally, we have to talk about Simon Pegg. He is, to me, the biggest reason why these films have been flourishing in the last few years. Pegg does comedic relief in an action film right, which means finding a balancing act between being silly and smart. Pegg more than carries his own in this role, and even brings out some acting chops when called upon in the film. Freaking love this man. So, apart from having a paper-thin story, what else does this film mess up? Honestly? Nothing. The action set-pieces were great, and felt exactly like something I would see in a Mission Impossible film. Hey! It's almost as if that's exactly what I was watching WHOA. And as I said before, there are some great technical moments as well, which keep the film visually interesting. And the stunts are great! I really appreciated them getting the big stunt they've been marketing the crap out of out of the way right at the beginning, because it sets the tone for the film as opposed to having everyone sit there and say, "Ok, when is this going to happen?" And apparently it really was Tom Cruise hanging off the side of the plane so I'm glad he can cross that off his bucket list. Go see this film, guys. This is what every summer popcorn flick should be.
The Critique: the quintessential popcorn flick, MI: V combines a solid acting performances with breathtaking visuals to deliver the best summer blockbuster this year.
The Recommendation: a must-see for any fan of the action genre. Plain and simple.
Rewatchability: Very High
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Oscar Talk: This film is almost a sure-thing for a Best Special Effects nomination. Calling it now.
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