SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT ETHAN HUNT

There really never has been stunt like Tom Cruise’s dry hump of an Airbus while taking off from the ground and rising to 5,000 feet. It’s a ballsy move with a great payoff. As the subwoofers in the cinema kick in and Cruise’s little legs kick out behind him before the ground drops away in a heartbeat there are just some things worth seeing on the big screen. Rightfully so Paramount have made it the lynchpin of their media campaign, yet even ballsier than doing the stunt itself is putting it in the first five minutes of the film where its link to the rest of the plot is minor at best. The message is implicit “You ain’t seen nothing yet folks.” And you haven’t. While it might remain the most spectacular stunt of the film there are three major set pieces to come with my personal favourite being an assassination plot at the Austrian Opera House.

I suppose I should explain the plot but at this point these films survive on mood, performances and yes set pieces. Caring about Ethan Hunt seems almost inconsequential. Maybe because Ethan Hunt is really Tom Cruise and whether you like Mission Impossible depends on whether you like the Cruise persona. For my money only Simon Pegg shows up playing a character with heart and personality. I suspect this is why he gets the lion share of the support work despite Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames appearing.

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None of these supporting characters matter next to Rebecca Ferguson as Isla Faust, a spy whose loyalties remain in question throughout. The camera lovingly lingers on her frame in a ball gown but also capture her face beautifully in a series of mysterious gazes. A star is most definitely born. The script makes her the equal of Hunt in several showdowns and Ferguson sells it including two big stunts she performed. Unlike Paula Patton and Maggie Q, Ferguson has real impact here and needs to return in the sequel. Because ladies and a gentleman a star is born!

Hunt can’t trust Isla for most of the film and previous entries in the film have seen Ethan turn his back on romance for the greater good. Isla suggests to Hunt when the stakes are getting high that they can run away together. They’ve paid their dues and there will always be another mission. This may be his last chance at happiness. An exchange of looks between them later speaks a thousand words. They make their choices.

There’s something incredible meta about what each Mission Impossible film has been and where it has landed in Tom Cruise’s career, the first back in 1996 was Cruise’s first stab at a franchise and being an action hero. 19 years later and Cruise’s biggest movies are his action vehicles at a time when maybe he should be slowing down and acknowledging his age. Ethan Hunt isn’t very loved or appreciated by his employer in this film as he continuously risks limb to successfully carry out his mission. Sound familiar? The film also displays a lot of humour about Hunt’s supposed invincibility. Whatever ego Cruise shows in real life, as producer and star he wisely pokes fun at himself here. 

I never did get to the plot but not to fret. Mission Impossible 5 is mostly style over substance. Those furtive glances are about as much as the characters talk about their feelings. What glances though. Hell just do a super cut of Rebecca Ferguson looking down the lens of the camera. Did I mention a star is born?! The first entry is still the best film of the lot but despite its faults Mission Impossible 5 crucially creates excitement for a sixth film. Well done Mr Hunt. Mission Complete.

 

 -Lloyd Marken

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