Another impossible mission (is there any other kind?) for Ethan Hunt and his crew. There are always many good reasons why this international franchise continues to print money: They are exciting and FUN, we enjoy the exotic locations, and there is action aplenty. Check out that opening sequence!
Writer/director Christopher McQuarie ("Edge of Tomorrow") never misses a beat; he's been thrilling us since "The Usual Suspects," so we know we are in very capable hands and we're ready for slam-bang action from the first frame! McQuarie includes several critical scenes which include a suspenseful time element: an airplane taking off, a ticking bomb, or a drowning. We respond to the tension even though we know these MI movies have happy endings!
We already know the plot (an unexpected threat to the future wellbeing of the world), the characters (our usual team and some outstanding new folks) and the exciting effects (chases by car, foot and motorcycle, with very little CGI or blowie uppie stuff). These always have minor tweaks, so this time I'm going to talk a bit more about the actors, particularly the ones we've already seen in these roles.:
- * Tom Cruise ("M.I.") Ethan and his team have been disavowed. There have been too many international incidents which took place while they were in the vicinity. Cruise allows his character to be beaten up, need to be rescued, need reassurance, and sometimes he is not all-seeing and all-knowing. I was pleasantly surprised.
- * Simon Pegg ("M.I.") Benji is loyal to a fault. He refuses to go back to London where he is safe, but instead insists on staying in Vienna and then Morocco with his fugitive friend. Pegg is the go-to guy for big action-filled franchises that need a friendly (and funny) face. See "Star Trek," as well!
- * Jeremy Renner ("M.I.") Brandt reports directly to the CIA now that the Impossible Mission Force has been disbanded; he finds it very challenging. Renner always brings a solid sense of security when he arrives on the scene.
- * Ving Rhames ("M.I.") Luther is NOT loyal to the IMF team. He is loyal to Ethan ONLY; everyone else is dispensable. We are glad to know that! Rhames seems to play characters we always want in our corner.
- * Rebecca Ferguson ("The White Queen") Ilsa is a worthy opponent for Ethan. She's smart, strong, creative and resourceful. Even when she does what she does, we still want to LIKE her! Ferguson was a big surprise to me, I wasn't aware of her before and she is terrific, maybe she has just had ordinary roles in the past. Ilsa is NOT an ordinary role!
- * Alec Baldwin ("Blue Jasmine") Hunley is the CIA director who explains that there is no such thing as "The Syndicate," as he firesEthan and his team. Baldwin specializes in morally compromised characters, so we are skeptical about his motivations.
- * Tom Hollander ("About Time") The British Prime Minister surprised me because he knew more than I expected. Hollander's familiar face is in everything from "Pirates of the Caribbean" to "About Time" and "The Lost Prince." He works ALL the time!
- * Sean Harris ("Prometheus") Harris plays one of the spookiest villains I have seen recently because the man rarely smiles, he is a cold-blooded killer and he is ruthlessly determined to make the world a better place, i.e., the way HE wants it.
The most unique element I could see in this entertaining behemoth was the motorcycle chase, although Ethan's near drowning and the backstage shenanigans at Puccini's opera "Turandot" are also worthy of note. Another plus is Cruise's abiding dislike for green-screen work, so his movies have very little Computer Generated Imaging. In addition, I was impressed that they could convey that much emotion without a single solitary F-bomb! Remarkable!