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Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (Blu-ray Review)

11 Dec, 2015 By: John Latchem



Street 12/15/15
Paramount
Action
Box Office $195.04 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity.
Stars Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin.

The “Mission: Impossible” films have been a staple of the action spy genre since the first movie hit in 1996. But there were scenes in this fifth installment that felt a lot like a James Bond movie. Maybe it’s because some of the story elements were very similar to some of the more recent Bonds. There’s the modern spymaster arguing the methods of the heroes are outdated, seen in Skyfall and Spectre. There’s the suspenseful stalking of the bad guys during a performance at an opera house, akin to Quantum of Solace. There’s a vast underground terror network guiding a secret global conspiracy, again not unlike Spectre.

These aren’t necessarily bad things, since there are a number of motifs common to any secret agent thriller. What Rogue Nation does effectively is to take the characters with whom we’re familiar and care about and put them in these settings, and finding a new twist to them while still delivering the powerhouse action scenes fans have come to expect.

We also get the introduction of a knockout femme fatale, with Rebecca Ferguson playing a shady double agent who may or may not be helping Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF team.

This is a film that knows exactly what it wants to do, and a franchise confident enough in its ability to do it. Part of the fun this time around is how the movie throws in a few references to the earlier movies as a way to wink at the audience. After all, if the films aren’t going to bother establishing any connection to the old TV show other than with the title, it’s at least good to build in familiarity with something.

There’s also a cool spin on the traditional “this message will self destruct in five seconds” sequence in which Hunt receives his mission orders, one that effectively sets the tone for the thrill ride to come.

The Blu-ray includes a solid commentary track with Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie that covers a lot of the details of the making of the film and working with the other members of the cast and crew. It’s an informative listen, even if Cruise tends to fall back on just repeating or agreeing with what McQuarrie says. The most fascinating aspect of it might be when they discuss a story process that essentially involves making it up as they go, figuring out the stunts they needed to do then using placeholder props and dialogue to film scenes knowing they could fill in certain details of the plot later once they figured it out. It’s remarkable everything came together as well as it did.

The Blu-ray also includes about 50 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes covering different aspects of the making of the film.

“Lighting the Fuse” deals with McQuarrie taking the helm and developing the story and stunt concepts; “Cruise Control” focuses on Tom Cruise’s increasing role within the franchise; “Heroes …” turns the spotlight on the supporting cast; “Cruising Altitude” dissects the opening sequence involving Cruise trying to board a plane as it takes off; “Sand Theft Auto” looks at the film’s car and motorcycle chases; and “The Missions Continue” examines Rogue Nation in the context of the other films of the franchise.

But the most interesting tidbit might be “Mission: Immersible,” which dives into the conception and filming of the movie’s key underwater sequence. Not that it’s anything special, but it does offer an amazing clip of Tom Cruise learning how to hold his breath for up to six minutes. It’s nice to know his commitment to doing his own stunts hasn’t wavered.


About the Author: John Latchem


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