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INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: A film that should have gotten a green light but lost points for sloppiness. MOBILE version |
. "Mission:: Impossible - Rogue Nation"

After greatly enjoying Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow," (a quite inventive action sci-fi of 2014) and appreciating him for his amazing dexterity and body strength that adds so much reality to his stunt work, I came to this movie not expecting such mooching of James Bond tropes. As though the "Mission:..." franchise didn't have its own mojo going.

This starts with the prologue scene. Not saying 007 has a lock on a smash opening to get a film going, but Bond film prologues are feats of dare-devil action and imagination. The prologue in "Rogue Nation" -- good as it was -- struck me as envy and imitation. Which doesn't mean that Cruise hanging on to the side of a massive Airbus A400 as it lifts off with tremendous power is bad. Just editorially tricky.

The secret to the illusion is in not providing other angles to prove its reality. Some have likened this locked-off shot to Cruise's near impossible scaling of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, in "Ghost Protocol." But lacking that proof shot, we must conclude that he was securely strapped onto the door of the craft (by the waist) so that he could seem to be hanging on for dear life.

No argument that it's a gutsy stunt, but the more convincing part of the sequence was him running along the wing, with the propellers blasting inches away, to get into that position in the first place. I'd never try it, and Cruise does such things before breakfast.

Not to blame are the production and/or insurance company for taking no chances with their star's life. And, putting the trickery aside, it's a beautiful stunt shot and makes a fabulous poster.

The spy thriller begins where "Ghost Protocol" left off, with the IMF dissolved and agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) evading the CIA while trying to convince Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) that he, Hunt, is not their problem and that The Syndicate, a sinister, highly trained and skilled terror group is the real threat. Unfortunately, Hunley, who is Jonesing to put Hunt behind bars, insists that the Syndicatee is a myth.

The narrative takes off in a surprise direction when the call comes in to IMF HQ offering Hunt a mission -- but it's not from the usual source. It's from the demonical Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), head of the Syndicate, that "rogue nation" of the title.

This leads to Hunt taken prisoner by Lane and his thugs (who are well cast) and to Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Lane's right-hand girl and the hot babe of the film. Only, surprise! She's really on Hunt's side and, instead of torturing him, she helps him escape. But, take nothing for granted in this messy, multi-directional narrative because her true allegiences constantly shift for dramatic purposes throughout, bringing in Britain's MI6 as well.

Inevitably, Hunt calls his former field agents back to work (we're reminded of the "Fast and Furious" team). We're then treated to car and motorcycle action and a suspenseful rescue operation with trusty comrades Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, whose comic timing is one of the more reliable features of the escapade), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and IMF Field Operations Director William Brandt (Jeremy Renner).

It may seem that I'm entirely down on the film as a whole but, in the end, I found it enjoyable, but only by making an effort to ignore the barely coordinated editing (which, likely, was the result of forced cuts from over-shooting and the highly documented changes being made to the script well into production.

Despite composer Joe Kraemer's ("Jack Reacher") Bond-like theme music that can't help but make you wonder if this is a promo for that other franchise (Daniel Craig should be pleased), and despite twitchy scene construction from director Christopher McQuarrie (whose third directorial credit this is (after "Jack Reacher"), the clumsy technical skill was trumped by the actors. They were doing their best every minute (Cruise's commitment is always 100%) and, in the final analysis, made it fun.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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