A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
Hollywood has always been good at two things: making absurd amounts of money by recycling the same tried-and-true genres again and again, and serving as the U.S. of Empire’s chief pop culture ministry of propaganda. Case in point? Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible film franchise. Loosely based on the CBS series, which ran on the U.S. broadcast airwaves from 1966-1973 (I watched it on weekend reruns in the early ‘80s), Cruise’s Mission: Impossible is now entering its FIFTH silver screen installment, featuring a 53-year-old Cruise himself as Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt. Yes, an impressive TC performs all his own stunts, and has had tons of fun with the series, inviting a new director to helm each successive film: Brian DePalma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and now Christopher McQuarrie, who directed Cruise in 2012’s modestly successful Jack Reacher.
The result? I am pleased to say that “Rogue Nation” may rival “Ghost Protocol” as being the best MI film of the bunch. First, of course, please acknowledge that the M:I storyline (as always) serves as U.S. pop culture propaganda, reminding global film audiences that super secret spy organizations accountable to no one must exist to keep the bad guys at bay, in this case, an entire network of “disappeared” western agents – The Syndicate – collectively managed by an uber-sinister shadowy figure named Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, impeccably dressed and whispering). (An aside – I’ve made the case, early and often, that the real “Rogue Nation” in real life is the United States of Empire, with its global network of military bases, black box ops, massive surveillance activities, extraordinary renderings of alleged “terror” suspects, unaccountable drone warfare, and other aggressive actions around the world. But I digress, and heck, it is summer time, fer cryin’ out loud. Just pass the popcorn.)
To business. “Rogue Nation’s paper-thin plot? The film opens with Hunt/Cruise hanging off of a giant transport plane in midair for no particular reason, and then, suddenly, a Senate Judiciary committee has teamed up with the CIA to shut down the IMF, crying “foul” at some alleged improprieties by Hunt and Co (as if!). Casting note: Alec Baldwin carries psyops water in his role as CIA head, butting heads with IMF director, capably acted by Jeremy Renner. As the plot unfolds, Hunt dodges the CIA and disappears, secretly assembling his IMF team (Simon Pegg’s Benji as high tech comic relief, Ving Rhames’ Luther, and Renner) to ferret out the real perps – Lane and his bunch of baddies. Mayhem ensues. Computers are hacked. Gear is deployed. Latex masks are donned and removed. And so it goes.
Two elements make this film good. The first, as always, are the stunts and the action scenes – including a fantastic Moroccan high speed chase involving motorcycles (a perennial Cruise favorite –see M.I.2), a nail biting high tech underwater chip switcheroo con, and a stunning shoot out sequence staged in the Vienna opera house, which alone is worth the price of admission. Second, Cruise meets his match in brainy and beautiful British double agent (or triple agent?) Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), whose cycle riding chops are matched only by her freakishly robust lung capacity and incredible martial arts moves with knives. And get this! No romance. Not even an onscreen smooch. I found this oddly refreshing. M:I fans are sure to enjoy the latest from Cruise and Co. Just check all reason at the screen door, and enjoy the ride.