Mission Highly Improbable

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is currently in theaters

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) – Rated PG-13

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.”

The blessing and curse of any Tom Cruise movie is that it is, first and foremost, a Tom Cruise film. I believe that Hollywood has two types of successful players: actors and stars. While the groups are not mutually exclusive, Cruise does fall firmly in the latter category.

Cruise, the consummate showman, actually hung from a plane as it took off. His willingness, even insistence, on performing this stunt himself garnered a lot of press and the studios milked that for all it was worth. It was showcased in all the trailers and most of the clips and featured in just about every interview. It was a brilliant marketing ploy that paid off handsomely.

The even more brilliant part of this strategem is that this showpiece is the opening scene in the movie (a la some of the fantastic Bond openings). Not only that but, while it is breathtaking, it isn’t even the best action scene in the film. That award belongs to a complex piece set during a performance of Turandot. That scene is worthy of Hitchcock with a dash of DePalma (who directed the first Mission Impossible movie).

Lately, Cruise has had some very strong female leads. Emily Blunt stole Edge of Tomorrow away from Cruise with her performance. Here, Rebecca Ferguson appears as a mysterious femme fatale. Her role is not as good as Blunt’s but she makes a great impression.

The supporting cast does an admirable job but make no mistake: they are there for support. Simon Pegg returns as our comic relief. Alec Baldwin plays a smarmy Alec Baldwin type. Jeremy Renner waits patiently in the wings in the hope that he can one day headline the franchise. Ving Rhames provides some needed color to the otherwise lily-white cast.

Now for the curse part, Cruise works so hard to be on top of the game that some things come off a little strange. We’re treated to the sight of a perfectly-sculpted shirtless 53-year-old Cruise for an extended period during an interrogation sequence. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is an expert marksman, champion swimmer/breath holder, short and long distance runner, demolition driver, motorcyclist, and on and on. The movie seems to function as an ad for Cruise bodybuilding or perhaps Scientology.

Cruise has a knack for picking good directors. The first Mission Impossible was directed by Brian DePalma, the second by John Woo, and the third by J.J. Abrams. Each showcased their directors’ strengths without losing sight of the Cruise factor. Ghost Protocol dropped the numbers and proved Brad Bird could do live action films with incredible stunts. Rogue Nation is made by Cruise’s Jack Reacher director (and Usual Suspects scribe), Christopher McQuarrie.

MI: Rogue Nation is an excellent action movie although my wife thought it went on too long. I will agree that the motorcycle chase right after the car chase was a bit excessive.

Con Air – Do Not Get on That Plane week

This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Con Air is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Con Air (1997) – Rated R for strong violence and language.

“When the government puts all its rotten criminal eggs in one airborne basket, it is asking for trouble. Before you can say, “Pass the barf bag,” the crooks control the plane, led by creepy Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich). Watching his every move is the just-released Nicolas Cage, who would rather reunite with his family. The action climaxes with an incredible crash sequence in Las Vegas.”

“Make a move and the bunny gets it!”

“What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldnt you consider that to be insane”

Okay recommending this movie I realize that I should have a category for Guilty Pleasure. For everything it gets right, it gets something wrong.

This is the first film directed by Simon West. None of his other films so far have been any good (Tomb Raider? The Generals Daughter?) and yet this one is chock full of great action and sort of great performances (more on that later).

We are not even five minutes into the movie when Cameron (Nicolas Cage) is attacked by three thugs who threaten his wife, deface his uniform, and beat him. Clearly they deserve the smackdown. Of course Cameron, a former Army Ranger, allows them to surround him in a rainy parking lot and begin beating him down without initially fighting back which seems quite odd.

The action is fun and pretty much non-stop. The acting is the real reason to watch this movie. They got a great cast and Simon West appears to have told each of them that they should go flat out with their acting. The actors do not seem to interact so much as they try to outdo each other.

Nicolas Cage overacts his heart out. His performance will leave you cringing at times but it does give him a certain charisma. They also take plenty of opportunities to show off his pecs and abs. Even his hair is given plenty of screen time and real estate.

Our other hero is a sandal-wearing U.S. Marshal, Vince Larkin. He is played by John Cusack who is clearly having a lot of fun here. He continually twits rival DEA agent Duncan Malloy played by Colm Meaney (Chief OBrien on Star Trek TNG/DS9 – his keychain has a Star Trek ornament on it).

We know that Malloy is not a hero because the first thing he does is arrive in a very expensive sports car and park in the handicap spot.

Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs was such a part of the cultural zeitgeist by this point that they base not one but two of the felons on his character (Cyrus and Garland).

Cyrus is our main villain and is overplayed to perfection by a scenery-chewing John Malkovich. He is riveting and stands out above the other overactors. His number two is Ving Rhames as Diamond Dog.

Even the minor villains are all chosen for their flamboyance. Comedian Dave Chappelle plays Pinball (humorously of course). The excellent character actor Danny Trejo plays rapist Johnny 23. M.C. Gainey plays white trash Swamp Thing.

Strangely the only actor in the whole movie who seems restrained (and that is only in comparison to the other actors) is Steve Buscemi who gives a delightful performance as Garland Greene.

The actresses are actually restrained (literally in one case). Rachel Ticotin plays a guard and Monica Potter is the love interest, patiently waiting for Cameron to come home. Neither is given much to do – perhaps because they did not overact?

The action is fabulous and almost as over-the-top as the acting. Almost every airplane trope is covered here – emergency takeoff, crash landing, fight in flight, body falling from airplane, landing gear stuck, etc.

I have to say a few words, but only a few, about the plot. The plot is utterly ridiculous – any description of it reveals plenty of plotholes. The dialogue is alternately wonderful and cringe-inducing. The film steals liberally from Flight of the Phoenix, Silence of the Lambs, and others but definitely has its own sense of identity.

I did like that almost the entire movie takes place on Bastille Day.

Con Air was actually nominated for two Academy Awards. Diane Warren was nominated for best song for “How Do I Live”. Con Air was also nominated for Best Sound. Unfortunately it ran into the juggernaut that was Titanic.

I cannot in good conscience call this a good film but I do recommend it because it is a huge amount of fun.

People watch: Powers Boothe does an initial voice-over showing love for the Rangers.