The Peterborough Examiner

Far-fetched plot lacks motive

Mission Impossible — Rogue Nation


I don’t know about impossible, but given that it’s taken almost 20 years to churn out five instalment­s of this series — something the early Bond franchise managed in six years, and the 1960s M:I TV show in just six weeks — these missions are certainly a lot of work.

Then again, given that the least popular still managed to take in more than US$130 million in North America alone, it’s remission impossible until Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, 53, but still nowhere near the old-guy style of actionhero roles) or the series makes a serious financial misstep.

But why, given the long lead time and an estimated budget of US$150 million, does the oddly titled Rogue Nation (a.k.a. M:I 5) feel at once so far-fetched and yet drably derivative? Much of the action plays out as though screenwrit­ers Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) and Christophe­r McQuarrie (Edge of Tomorrow) sat down and designed the most improbable, inescapabl­e booby trap they could manage, then reverse-engineered Hunt’s getaway.

You could argue that all actionmovi­e scripts follow this formula; there are no actual volcanic lairs, Maze Runner labyrinths or Shawshank prisons out of which to break. But the big set piece in Rogue Nation — a computer control centre housed inside a whirlpool and then buried beneath a power plant — feels particular­ly egregious. Surely it’s unwise to have all that electronic equipment in close contact with rushing water.

Besides, it’s basically the computer-vault scene from the first Mission: Impossible movie, only louder, faster and (you’ll recall in that one how Hunt produced a single bead of sweat that almost undid his efforts) much, much wetter.

Hunt has to log into this waterlogge­d system to reprogram a “gait analysis” security system to allow his confederat­e Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) to steal a microchip that contains vital informatio­n needed to stop a bespectacl­ed baddie (Sean Harris) from committing — wait, where was I? Ran out of breath there, much like Hunt.

Harris is Solomon Lane, leader of The Syndicate, a criminal organizati­on so mysterious we never really find out what it is. He’s got the requisite evil haircut and a voice that must have required six weeks with a deelocutio­n coach, and he’s playing cat-and-mice with Hunt and the enigmatic, deadly Ilsa Faust. She’s played by Rebecca Ferguson, putting the sex in sextuplecr­oss. Honestly, she changes sides more often than the tourists on Abbey Road.

Not sure why Solomon spends so much time on Ilsa, however. Like so many movie villains, he’s got enough henchmen that he can randomly shoot the odd one just to prove how bad he is. And when he decides to assassinat­e a world leader at the Vienna State Opera, he’s able to send in multiple hit men and women, plus find time to rig a car bomb, just in case.

Solomon and his maybe-agent Ilsa are just the start of Hunt’s problems. In another movie trope, the Impossible Missions Force (to be confused at your peril with the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund) has been disbanded by a grouchy CIA honcho (Alec Baldwin), making it almost impossible for IMF boss William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to help. I say “almost” because impossible is the IMF’s middle — no, wait, first — name.

Again, when have we not seen this before?

Has there ever been a movie cop that wasn’t called on the carpet by those pencil-pushers at HQ; a movie spy organizati­on that wasn’t dissolved, outlawed, and forced undergroun­d by bureaucrat­ic bunglers; a movie critic who wasn’t told to hand in his 3-D glasses and notebook by an uncaring editor? (Hey, I stand by that half-star review of Transforme­rs 4!)

So of course Hunt has to save the world with only his closest allies — Benji, Brandt and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) — to assist him. He does this by flying under the radar — motorcycle­s are perfect for this sort of thing — and occasional­ly by flying beside it. In the opening scene, Hunt demonstrat­es that when he gets on a plane, he gets ON the plane.

These are thrilling moments, to be sure. As are director McQuarrie’s wonderful array of establishi­ng shots: Havana! Paris! Kamloops! Washington! Minsk! Casablanca! (I made up one of those.)

Rogue Nation’s plot is one with means and opportunit­y galore, but little in the way of motive. And in a year brimming with spy stories — Kingsman came out in February, Spy last month, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. next, and Spectre in the fall — you need to bring your A game to stand out.

Anything less is infeasible, impractica­ble, unattainab­le; you get the picture.

 ?? SUPPLIED PHOTO ?? Tom Cruise, left, and Jeremy Renner star in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.
SUPPLIED PHOTO Tom Cruise, left, and Jeremy Renner star in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.

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