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Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation: Fun on the run

A still from the movie.  

Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation

Genre: Action/ Adventure

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames

It is the fifth instalment of the franchise and obviously I no longer believe in the impossibility of the mission but McQuarrie knows the art of tweaking the formula and reinventing Tom Cruise. He has done it in the past with films like Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow, which he wrote, and here again as rogue agent Ethan Hunt goes after the Syndicate there is no stopping the Cruise ship.

Hollywood is increasingly looking for the villains within and here is yet another example of a terror group run by former spies that is driven more by material greed than any ideology to create socio-political imbalance in the world. The title resonates with the political flux we are in.

However, in times, when covert operations are increasingly seen with suspicion, the film makes a case for giving a free run for undercover agents. Early in the film Alec Baldwin, playing the haughty CIA boss, makes a case for disbanding Impossible Missions Force (IMF) for it has become reckless but as expected he has to eat his words.

You can disagree with the politics of the film or you may find it simplistic as at times it feels like a souped up cross between our Ek Tha Tiger and Agent Vinod but when it comes to gender equation the narrative does look for fresh possibilities as it twists the idea of damsel in distress on its head.

When Hunt feels the heat it is Rebecca Ferguson as yet another rogue agent Isla who comes to his rescue. And not in just a cosmetic way. Yes, she does come out of water in a bikini but there is more to figure out in her personality. Her loyalty is more capricious than her ability to outmanoeuvre an opponent in a combat and when she looks into the eyes you know Hunt is missing a heart beat. Along the way she puts the whole game in perspective when she questions the ethics of the spy game as you begin to believe that rogue is a subjective word after all depending on the prism you look it from.

This is between the lines. On the surface it is popcorn entertainment where action shifts from air to water, from one scenic locale to another with Hunt having enough resources to hold his breath and change his costumes to match the mood. At 53, Cruise is hanging on to his action star image with the same vigour with which Hunt hangs in air holding on to the door of a cargo plane and once again he forces his way into our mindspace. When Baldwin describes Hunt as the living manifestation of destiny, you don’t know whether he is describing the character or the star who inhabits it. It is this wry wit that makes the larger than life space palatable.

Despite its two hour run it doesn't tire you out as the action set pieces are not only smart but also cleverly woven into the screenplay. The highlight being the opera scene in Vienna where poetry rubs shoulders with the political reality as Pucini’s “Turandot” plays out. Like the three riddles in the story, Mcquarrie employs three assassins to execute a diabolic plan. A superlative use of space, danger has seldom been so delicious before. Or the mad chase in Casablanca where deft camerawork organically makes you part of the adrenaline sucking action. Or for that matter the underwater sequence which leaves you breathless. Though all of them are climax worthy in themselves, McQuarrie and his team of writers orchestrate them in a way that they contribute to the crescendo.

In between McQuarrie drills into the staple tropes of the franchise to juice out humour. Like how lie detectors can be manipulated or how masks have lost their value in this digital age but then when it comes to the crunch there is nothing as cool as a man with a latex facade.

Sean Harris sounds ominous as the villain of the piece but as the film progresses he is reduced to a rasping caricature. No such issues with Simon Pegg though as Benji the loyal friend of Hunt he proves more than just a comic relief as he humanizes the larger than life surroundings. Renner has not much to contribute apart from making the scenario look stylish and Baldwin, as always, tries to chew the scenery. Ultimately the game belongs to Cruise and Ferguson and they ensure that the fun doesn’t flag.


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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 5:00:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/mission-impossible-rogue-nation-fun-on-the-run/article7512833.ece

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