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Friday, July 31, 2015

MOVIE: The New Mission: Impossible Is a Cruise-Pegg Bromance

This review isn’t about deep thoughts on Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. That’s mostly because there aren’t really any to be had. Every Mission: Impossible movie hits the same notes: death-defying acts, near-misses, international intrigue. If you like those things, you’ll like this movie. That’s all you need to know. No, this review is all about the heart and soul of Rogue Nation, which is the bromance between Tom Cruise’s super-agent Ethan Hunt and Simon Pegg’s regular-agent Benji Dunn. (We’re sure people are cooking up names for this duo as we speak.) The recent run of Mission movies have largely been posse cuts in which a group of IMF agents pulls off yet another impossible mission. But following the events of Ghost Protocol, after which Ethan fittingly ghosted, the band is definitely not back together. Hunt’s on the lam, CIA director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is after the
IMF and Hunt, Luther (Ving Rhames) is semi-retired, Benji is stuck at a desk, and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is in D.C. trying to keep the Senate from shutting the whole operation down. So they need a new reason to bring them back to the fold. And that reason (Ethan’s desire to bring down the super-secret Syndicate) fully swings into gear when Ehtan calls on Benji for help with a covert op. Benji, now very aware Ethan is a wanted man, refuses to leave him behind when the job is done—and thus begins the sweetest I-love-you-man caper you’ll see this summer. Well, they might be tied with the Science Bros. in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those dudes fought a lot. For some reason, it wasn’t obvious in Mission: Impossible III or Ghost Protocol just how much chemistry Cruise and Pegg have, but it’s far more apparent in this installment. (Team-building exercises since the last movie, maybe?) If they were police officers and not choosers of missions impossible, Rogue Nation could’ve easily been a buddy-cop movie. With less slapstick. Have you seen that bit in the trailer where the two are flying through the air and Ethan asks Benji if he has his seatbelt on? The whole movie is like that. But funnier. And more dramatic. With even more crashing cars. In the Mission flicks Cruise is part of an ensemble, but outside of the franchise he’s more often than not a Leading Man. Pegg, on the other hand, has had years of making movies with Nick Frost (from Shaun of the Dead to their voice work on The Boxtrolls). He knows how to play off of someone, and Pegg himself has said that Cruise “inspires you to do your best work.” (He also claims that Cruise inspired him to do his own stunts in that flying-car scene.) Somehow this combination has caused a perfect alchemy, and it’s the kind of relationship this franchise needed. A lot of cool action-movie things happen in Rogue Nation, but they’re mostly MacGuffins meant to set up setpieces and/or witty banter. (This is still at least partly a J.J. Abrams joint. Note that there’s also a rabbit’s foot in this film—likely a sight-gag for those who remember M:I III.) Pegg recently said that he’d be down for a Benji Dunn spin-off movie. That’ll probably never happen—but if it does, he’d better be able to bring along his wingman Tom Cruise.
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