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Movie Review: This 'Mission' accomplished

Published August 13. 2015 04:00PM

"Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation" is the 2015 summer movie season's most thrilling action film, in no small part because of Tom Cruise's stunts, starting with the opening scene, one you may have seen in part online or in previews, where Cruise hangs on the outside of a military transport aircraft.

Even though making-of footage depicts Cruise in a harness, that is him outside the plane. There were said to be no computer-generated effects for this scene, one that Cruise and others have said required eight takes.

In addition to the jaw-dropping "airplane hangar" opening scene, there are several other big action scenes involving Cruise: a night at Puccini's "Turandot" inside the Vienna State Opera house; behind the wheel of a new BMW in an inner-city chase, on a motorcycle in a chase on a winding mountain road, and negotiating the underwater realm of a security vault (you'll hold your breath while Cruise does). Director of photography Robert Elswit captures it all flawlessly. Editor Eddie Hamilton executes the scenes terrifically.

Cruise makes the impossible look possible as Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt in the fifth installment of "Mission: Impossible," for which Cruise is one of the producers. Once again, Hunt is on the wrong side of the United States government as he tracks the Syndicate, an international crime organization led by Solomon Lane (nefarious-looking Sean Harris).

The supporting cast is exceptional: Jeremy Renner as intense as ever as William Brandt, head of IMF, a super-secret United States spy organization; Alec Baldwin as perplexed as ever as the CIA director, and Ving Rhames as cool as ever as a CIA operative.

There are two major delights in the casting. First, there's Rebecca Ferguson ("Hercules," 2014) as ex MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, who is either a double agent or a double-cross agent. No spoiler here. Ferguson is charming and fierce.

The casting of Simon Pegg as computer expert Benji Dunn, who becomes Hunt's sidekick, is a smart choice. Pegg is not only a clownish compadre, but has a putty face which telegraphs quizzical looks. Cruise and Pegg make a great buddy odd couple.

The plot is not anything new and is particularly convoluted, but it doesn't slow down or get in the way of the action. The screenplay conveys an underlying skepticism about embracing any political cause. "We only think we're fighting for the right side because that's what we choose to believe," it's stated.

Director Christopher McQuarrie ("Jack Reacher," 2012; "The Way of the Gun," 2000) wrote the screenplay from a story he co-wrote with Drew Pearce ("Iron Man 3," 2013) based on the TV series (1966-'73) written by Bruce Geller. "Mission: Impossible," with its globe-hopping locations, pacing, slickness and gadgets, has the earmarks of a James Bond or "Bourne Identity" film. There are old-fashioned blockbuster titles and credits that emphasize the excitement of the "Mission: Impossible" theme by Lalo Schifrin.

If the mission of this movie was to return Tom Cruise to the top of the box-office, then "Mission: Accomplished." The sixth installment of "Mission: Impossible" is in pre-production.

"Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation" goes with the summer blockbuster season like melted butter on popcorn. Don't miss it on the big screen.

"Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity; Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller; Run Time: 2 hrs. 31 mins.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation" was filmed in London, Morocco, Austria and Malaysia.

Box Office, Aug. 7: "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation" was No. 1 two weeks in a row, with $29.4 million, $108.6 million, two weeks, defeating "Fantastic Four," opening at No. 2 with $26.2 million, and keeping "The Gift" opening at No. 3, with $12 million;

4. "Vacation," $9.1 million, $37.3 million, two weeks; 5. "Ant-Man," $7.8 million, $147.4 million, four weeks; 6. "Minions," $7.4 million, $302.7 million, five weeks; 7. "Ricki and the Flash," $7 million, opening; 8."Trainwreck," $6.3 million, $91.1 million, four weeks; 9. "Pixels," $5.4 million, $57.6 million, three weeks; 10. "Southpaw," $4.7 million, $40.7 million, three weeks;

Unreel, Aug. 14:

"The Man From U.N.C.L.E," PG-13: The TV show (1964 '68) hits the big screen in the action-comedy directed by Guy Ritchie that stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki.

"Mistress America," R: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach co-wrote the screenplay directed by Baumbach about a college freshman's life turned upside down by her stepsister. Gerwig, Seth Barrish, Juliet Brett, Andrea Chen and Michael Chernus star in the comedy.

"Straight Outta Compton," R: The story of Compton, Calif., rap group NWA gets the big-screen treatment in the drama that stars O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell and Neil Brown Jr.

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press website,; the Times News website,; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6-6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM,, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein: pwillistein@ tnonline. com. Follow Paul Willistein on Twitter @ PaulWillistein and friend Paul Willistein on Facebook.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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