Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
This would be M:I5, if you’re counting. By the time most franchises reach #5 they have pretty much played out. I’m happy to report that this one is still going strong. It’s just about the best series for real, almost old-fashioned stunt work, and for once, when they say the star actually performed his own stunts, it’s pretty much true. In #4 he really did dangle on a rope midway up the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa. In this one, he really did ride on the outside of a gigantic cargo plane, an Airbus A400M Atlas, with monstrous eight-bladed propellers. Of course the props could not suck him in, as he was behind them, and he had a safety line which was digitally removed, but the winds must have been fierce, and he went up to 5,000 feet. Eight times, until they got the shots right. I don’t have a fear of heights, I enjoy high places, but I don’t know if I would have wanted to do that. My hat is off to the crazy bastard.
There is also a scene in a huge tank that was filmed in one take, and he held his breath for six minutes. (I didn’t realize humans could stay underwater that long, but have learned that if you breathe pure oxygen for twenty minutes or so, it’s possible to not breathe for up to twenty minutes, the current world record!) That one I could not even imagine doing, as I can’t swim and start to panic at about ten seconds underwater.
There is also a thrilling real world motorcycle chase on a twisting road in Morocco, the kind where you lean over so far that your knee kisses the pavement, and we see that happening a few times. It’s absolutely insane to let your multi-million-dollar bankable star do stuff like that, and nobody really wants to let him, but when Cruise says he’s going to do it no one can argue with him. He’s Tom Cruise, and I assume he believes the Emperor Xenu or the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard will protect him.
So I’ve just discussed the stunts. What about the story? What about the characters? … Are you fucking kidding me? The story is serviceable at best, the characters are all they need to be and not a bit more. But you didn’t buy your ticket to see great writing and great acting, did you? I didn’t think so. Neither did I. The Mission: Impossible films promise you nothing more than hair-raising action, and they deliver.
Have to mention one more thing. It’s almost as if there is a clause in all action movie contracts these days, with the exception of the Bourne movies. There must be at least one completely stupid and unbelievable sequence. These usually involve outrunning an explosion, or avoiding a hail of lead from multiple machine guns. (If you believed the movies, the machine gun is the least effective weapon ever devised by man. Not one damn henchman is able to hit a moving target with one, if the target is a good guy. Billions of rounds have been expended to no effect at all. They might as well be blowing jellybeans and M&Ms from pea shooters.)
Here, at least they get the stupid scene out of the way quickly. Ethan and The Girl have escaped from the underground torture dungeon and are running down a tunnel, about three feet wide. The tunnel is stone or brick. Two henchmen appear behind them. There are no doors to escape through, no little niches to hide in. They are completely exposed. The henchmen fire maybe thirty or so rounds in the general direction of the fugitives, who are maybe thirty feet away.
And they can’t hit them.
This is completely, physically impossible! Simply could not happen. Even if all their bullets went into the walls, the fucking ricochets would kill them! It is literally impossible to miss! I hate it when an otherwise entertaining movie suddenly shifts to an alternate universe where the laws of physics as we know them no longer work. I would love to get into an editing room and snip out those twenty seconds or so and put them in the toilet, where they belong.