Friday, July 31, 2015
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (M.Z. Seitz) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation  (directed and screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie story by Christopher McQuarrie and Drew Pearce based on the television series [1966-73] [wikip] [IMDb] by Bruce Geller [wikip] [IMDb]) is certainly one of the best written, best timed / edited / directed and best acted action spy-thriller in a generation and possibly of all time.
For a fair number of years now, film-makers have been trying to crack the challenge of making today's heavily cyber/hacking based spy-fare exciting. The last Bond film Skyfall  even named / mocked the problem with a scene involving a new, "fresh-out-of college" if ever tech wizard "Q" blithely handing a 40-ish James Bond a revolver that would only fire if his (Bond's) palm was pressed against it, telling the somewhat disappointed / crest-fallen Bond: "Oh, you were expecting an exploding pen or something. Well, we're kind of past that sort of thing now. (Now Mr. Toy-loving Dinasaur let _me_ get back to _my computer terminal_ and get on with the real intel work to be done..." ;-). Priceless ;-).
Well ... bring on U.S. super-spy Ethan Hunt (played _wonderfully_ by Tom Cruise in almost a divine manifestation of his archetypal Tom Cruise-ishness) working for an agency, the "Impossible Missions Force" SO SECRET that its initials are identical to one of the MOST BORING if ALSO (in the minds of many conspiracy theorists) MOST POWERFUL / NEFARIOUS AGENCIES IN THE WORLD TODAY (the International Monetary Fund ;-).
Okay, it's almost impossible to make lines of code running across a computer screen look exciting. Just ask the makers of the last Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit  movie ;-).
BUT ... what if TO GET AT those "spreadsheets" _upon which_ THE FATE OF THE WORLD HANGS (!!), one has to get past THREE LAYERS of "biometric" pass codes (ie REQUIRING A REAL PERSON AGAIN ... ;-). And the ONLY WAY TO GET "YOUR GUY" (hacker) to get recognized "by the system" is TO HAVE SOME ELSE (Ethan Hunt) DIVE INTO A TANK AT THE BOTTOM OF A COOLING TOWER OF SOME SUPER-SECRET FACILITY LOCATED IN SOME WONDEROUSLY _SIMULTANEOUSLY_ "OUT OF THE WAY" YET SUPER EXOTIC LOCALE, WHERE INSIDE SAID TANK YOU HAVE TO INSTALL A _COMPUTER CARD_ AMONG MANY OTHERS, WITH YOUR AGENT'S BIOMETRIC INFO (forget finger prints or retinal scans but recordings of the way he/she walks, talks, smiles, even ticks as he/she talks, etc), WHILE ALL SORTS OF ROBOTIC / MECHANICAL THINGS ARE SPINNING ABOUT IN SAID TANK as part of BOTH NORMAL and SECURITY OPERATIONS.
NOW _THAT'S_ a "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" ... Ya betcha baby! ;-). Add then a Swedish born, British agent (one hopes...) Isla Faust (played by Rebecca Furgeson) who's SO DEEP COVER ... "in" with SO MANY shadowy, underworld groups / agencies that she herself becomes a living embodiment of the Talking Heads song "Life during Wartime" [Amzn] ("I've got three passports, a couple of visas, no longer know my own name" ... "changed my hairstyle so many times now, can't remember what I look like"). Yet, SHE's placed herself closest to the nefarious Lane (played by Sean Harris) who (may) head an ultra-pathological terrorist network called "The Syndicate" made up of other super-highly trained former spies / assassins from all kinds of agencies from across the world. None of them really knows what they stand for anymore, but ALL of them know that they have the skills to can get whatever they want ... and most, like Lane, presumably want "A HECK OF A LOT..."
So this then is the "10-20 stories down in the deep, DEEP BASEMENT BUNKER of the underworld" in which "IMF" super agent Ethan Hunt lives/works, along with his still somewhat handler / boss William Brandt (played by Jeremy Brenner), and his "tech guy" buddies Benji Dunn (played by Simon Pegg) and Luther Stikell (played by Ving Ranes). Even C.I.A. chief Alan Huntley (played in inspiringly well-meaning but clueless manner by Alec Baldwin) doesn't know what's going on let alone Congress (that's supposed to "give oversight" to all of this). Interestingly though, British Intelligence seems to know _exactly_ what's what ... EVEN IF they're having increasing trouble "controlling" it all (shades of The Good Shephard ).
Much, much, much ensues ... honestly, this is one heck of a ride (again) ... and if only 5-10% of the action was based on reality ("renditions" can't possibly be "pretty" ...), this would help explain why so much of Europe both loves and hates us since the beginning of the Cold War.
Anyway, one, one heck of a story!
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