Previously on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE . . . Brad Bird surprised all with GHOST PROTOCOL/’11, the M.I. pic of your dreams. Or nearly . . . no Barbara Bain. In her absence, Bird helmed a Roger Moore-era James Bond pic of your dreams. Okay, that was THE SPY WHO LOVED ME/’77 . . . but you get the idea. And we know how the Bond experts punted the follow-up, MOONRAKER/’79, scuttling revived tropes thru overuse while losing a hard-won balance of randy fun & OTT thrills to settle for coarse winking & OTT stunts. And so it goes for ROGUE, opening in jokey fashion (very nudge, nudge/yuck, yuck) before trying to segue into serious territory via slackly staged action sequences & barely motivated character arc reversals. Christopher McQuarrie, more writer than director, hasn’t much to offer in the way of action chops (close-work is all now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t edits while big set pieces are kinetic free-for-alls that don’t add up.* (The slick car/motorbike chase sequence looks like it was handed off to 2nd Unit specialists.) Not that the targeted audience seemed to mind. They may even have located something to pass for a plot while scoping out Tom Cruise’s oddly inconsistent facial features, a different haggard look from every angle. Depressing stuff. Naturally, McQuarrie is already signed up for the next M.I. With TC, apparently, already hard at work . . . on his face. (They say the puffiness goes down in a couple of months. See below)
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *Whereas M.I.-3 took a big plot swipe from Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS/’46, here we get an overripe homage to Hitch’s assassination set piece from his ‘56 remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, but with a Vienna staging of TURANDOT in for oratorio at the Royal Albert Hall. Alas, nothing at the State Opera House maintains contact with logistical sense, the very opposite of Hitchcockian precision. They even manage to get the climactic note of 'Nessun Dorma' wrong. (Hint: It's the penultimate note: Vin-cer-o.)
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: As mentioned above M.I.4 . . . or THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. Even better, Brad Bird’s animated shot at ‘70s Bond-love, THE INCREDIBLES/’04.