Tom Cruise has been a top Hollywood for two decades now and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that when all is said and done the Mission Impossible movies will be his greatest legacy. Now on the outset that seems like a slight against a supposed good dramatic actor like Cruise (yes, good not great), but through all his dramatic performances, which again are fine, but nothing that has permanently resonated for him to make a career off chasing that Oscar. No, Cruise is through and through at his best when he takes on the action hero role, a role that again when just looking at him doesn’t really seem to compute for the small, diminutive Cruise who doesn’t look like he can kick all THAT much ass. But, ass he indeed kicks, and boy is he good at it.
The Mission Impossible movies have always been some of my favourite action movies, most noticeably elevated by Cruise’s performance and willingness to do just about anything. The first one just the steady introduction of the series as a remake of the TV series, into the ridiculous guilty pleasure, Limp Bizkit infused and John Woo directed second entry that holds a special place into my heart, into new-age techno-thriller area with the uniformly game J.J. Abrams at the helm, to the last installment which blew my mind and is one of the best action movies of the past decade with Brad Bird taking on directing duties. That’s one of the cool things about the series, each film in the five part series so far has a different director with their own subtle takes on how it should look and what the action set-pieces will entail. The suave coolness of Woo bleeds into the new generation of cyber happenings into Bird’s lavish globe hopping.
The fifth film led by Christopher McQuarrie definitely takes after the last entry in scope and framework, leading a basic storyline through cities across the world ripe for Cruise to engage in epic action scene after action scene. And through it all that’s what people want to see and that’s what they give you. The film opens on the heavily advertised scene of Cruise jumping on a plane and breaking into the cargo hold, with no wires or protection to save him from his fiery death, that oh yeah Cruise just happened to do by himself without any stunt protection. There’s a fun scene that happens concurrently with an Opera taking place, another where Cruise must hold his breath for two minutes while he traverses an underwater water system, a fantastic motorbike chase (with shades of the second film) and so on.
I mean, when it really comes down to it with action movies you don’t really care much about the plot or anything like that, it doesn’t hurt to have something engaging that makes the action and characters even that more relatable, but breaking things down to the bare-bones it’s the fun and epicness of action movies that makes them succeed. Hence why another deep series, “Fast And The Furious” has only grown more popular and exceedingly more outlandish. The Mission Impossible movies give you all that, the story is always the stock modern day spy tale where they good guys are trying to pry some technology from the big bad guy, and the movies do it well, but their grandiose action scenes and locales is what makes the films tick.
Any old film has action sequences, but the Mission Impossible ones always seem to take it up a notch, while seemingly equally out-of-this-world while also very grounded and believable. The fifth film hits similar notes to the fourth film, for its benefit, but unlike the last installment it loses its steam as it progresses leading up to a disappointing climax that witholds a large action scene in place of a more subdued and tense showdown of different sorts. It works fine enough, but it’s just not enough of a gangbusters end note to a movie that was already waning to the end. Again, these are modern-day Mission Impossible movies so of course it’s over two hours long, and undoubtedly could’ve been shaved down a bit to provide a tighter film. Cruise is the big selling point of course and he’s as great as ever, Simon Pegg is fine, I guess, as the most blatant example of comic relief ever. The real surprise is Rebecca Ferguson filling the necessary female role, but does it without falling into the trap of the female who needs saving or some kind of validation of Cruise’s character. I wouldn’t be against her returning in some capacity. And then boring Jeremy Renner showed up to collect his cheque.
Off the tails of “Ghost Protocol” a movie that actually made IMAX worth it for once and gave me a legit panic attack, the anticipation for the fifth installment was at an all time high for me, and was one of the few Summer movies I was anticipating. While it didn’t end up reaching the heights of the fourth one, still in and out itself it was a worthy successor and still continues to breathe life into a series that shows no stopping, especially with Tom Cruise’s inability to age or fail to want to do insane action scenes across the world.