(US/China - 2015)
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Xiang Jingchu, Tom Hollander, Jens Hulten, Hermione Corfield, America Olivo, Robert Maaser, Wolfgang Stegemann. (PG-13, 131 mins)
Putting aside the fact that he's a pretty weird guy who believes in a patently crazy religion, there's no denying that Tom Cruise is perhaps The Last Movie Star, the kind of guy who, with occasional missteps (ROCK OF AGES), knows what his fans want and always delivers. The action just gets more frenetic and ambitious with ROGUE NATION, written and directed by Cruise's apparent new BFF Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for his USUAL SUSPECTS script nearly 20 years ago. McQuarrie disappeared from sight after 2000's THE WAY OF THE GUN and resurfaced with a writing credit on Cruise's 2008 film VALKYRIE. Since then, McQuarrie wrote and directed Cruise in 2012's underrated--with a growing cult--JACK REACHER, and he co-wrote last year's EDGE OF TOMORROW. Fans of McQuarrie the writer will be happy to know that he brings some of his gift for verbiage and Keyser Soze hyperbole to ROGUE NATION, particularly when Alec Baldwin's irritable CIA chief tells one of the bad guys that Cruise's Ethan Hunt is "the living manifestation of destiny...and he's made you his mission!" As a director, McQuarrie throws all of the styles of past M:I franchise helmers into a blender in a way that's tantamount to a greatest hits package. There's a lot of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2's John Woo in the fight choreography and some generous Brad Bird in the elaborately death-defying GHOST PROTOCOL-style set pieces, plus the long Vienna Opera House sequence that's more Brian De Palma than anything De Palma did as the hired gun directing the first M:I installment in 1996. Though there's quite a bit of CGI assistance, ROGUE NATION goes the extra mile in the action sequences to make them as practical as possible. Sure, for every scene of Cruise hanging on to the outside of a plane as it's taking off, or doing most of his own driving in a high-speed motorcycle chase sequence, there's one of him being bounced around like a pinball or a really phony-looking car flip that momentarily takes you out of the movie, but these interruptions are few and far between.