Friday 31 July 2015


(Christopher McQuarrie, 2015)

I love how much of a cinematic classicist McQuarrie evidently is - the coherent way he puts together action scenes, low on cuts but high on nicely-blocked and framed compositions; his use of anamorphic cameras; his partnership with composer Joe Kraemer, whose score here is a beautifully inventive and evocative treatment of contemporary 1960s scores; the way he makes references to classic Hollywood movies (Rebecca Ferguson, who does bear some resemblance to Ingrid Bergman, here plays a character called Ilsa, and is encountered at one point in Casablanca), in this film obviously playing with nourish motifs and ideas including that of the femme fatale; and his ability to stick to some basic principles of action and character even in the midst of a chaotic modern blockbuster like this one.
If each instalment in the Misson Impossible franchise so far has been dominated by it's directors style, well then McQuarrie's classical storytelling allows him to pay a sort of tribute to the series as a whole, with scenes in London (DePalma), the Middle East (Bird), a motorcycle chase (Woo) and Cruise's Hunt set on saving a woman he clearly has strong feelings for (Abrams). The plot finds Hunt on the run (again) as he tries to track down the head of the Syndicate (Sean Harris, lending just a fragment of his creepy intensity to an underwritten part), an "anti-IMF" made up of supposedly deceased foreign agents.
Hunt is aided by his old pal Benjy (Simon Pegg, decent comic relief and given a bit more to do this time), new boss Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and even older laptop-toting buddy Luther (Ving Rhames). The new blood is British agent Ilsa (Ferguson,  beyond the set-pieces, easily the best reason to see the film), who McQuarrie uses as a recurrent force for plot progression - she drives events, while Hunt is constantly playing catch-up, trying to figure out exactly what is going on. The classiness of the cast helps keep all the exposition and character beats a pleasure to watch, and, as a screenwriter, McQuarrie retains the ability to come up with the odd zinger. But mainly he is concerned here with ways to keep his leading man active.
This is Cruise at his best as a physical performer - jumping, hanging, sprinting, swimming, punching and kicking, he is a hyperactive force of nature who hurls himself through a series of gruelling, often-hilarious set-pieces with vigour, selling us the plot as he does so.
That plot bears the obvious scars of late rewrites and reshoots, especially in the third act, but the energy and efficient style on show means it is always nicely escapist fun.

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