(July 31, 2015 – NYC) With a second viewing of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation last night at 8 PM, I decided to take another look at the Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun, Jack Reacher) written and directed fifth installment. It’s not that I was unhappy with the response that I crafted after seeing a DGA screening of Rogue Nation, alongside Mr. McQuarrie and Mr. Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review!); “the most symmetrical and poetic of the Mission: Impossible films” has so much going on that it’s easy to overlook several terrific moments of the film. With Rogue Nation opening in wide release today (July 31, 2015) here is another, if not spoiler-ish look at Ethan Hunt and the IMF’s latest globe-trotting adventure. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read and enjoy What’cha Reading’s second look at Rogue Nation.
The Airbus A400 sequence was long expected to be the signature moment of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. After set pictures leaked out of Tom Cruise filming the stunt in the U.K. last year, every trailer and tv spot have focused on this sequence. Writer/Director Chris McQuarrie has previously said the following to Yahoo Movies:
“We knew we needed a stunt. The bar had been raised to such a point [with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol]that the expectations [were]so high. We kept looking for a location. Unfortunately, when you’ve climbed the tallest building in the world, you can’t have an action sequence on the second-tallest building in the world. So any skyscraper was out.”
It was very interesting to re-watch the The A400 sequence as it’s such a great moment on film and in the Mission: Impossible series. We’ve seen Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt lowered into a vault, climb Moab, climb the Burj Khalifa… With 2000’s M:i-2, the bar was raised on what audiences expected from a Mission film. John Woo redefined the action movie genre and reinvigorated the perception on Cruise as an actor/entertainer; willing to go to any lengths to provide an exciting and fun time at the movies. With 2006’s M:i:III by J.J. Abrams, the stunts were still there, but we never got a signature moment or moments that ever dared to top what Cruise had accomplished with Woo on 2. M:i:III was a fun movie and a departure from 1 and 2, with a greater focus on Hunt as a family man akin to what Abrams had given audiences with ALIAS. It wasn’t until 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol that Brad Bird finally gave fans a worthy follow up to M:i-2. The Burj Khalifa sequence was impressive as much then as it is now and will certainly be remembered throughout cinema history. It was the signature moment in a film that had plenty. We saw Cruise climb onto the ledge of a building and zipline off, run through a sandstorm, dodge a crashing car, and I could go on. The A400 sequence is the opening to Rogue Nation and it’s used to great effect on the rest of the film. I had originally critiqued it as a creative move based on confidence and I still stand by this, while adding that I believe it was also the most dynamic choice McQuarrie made for his film. With the audience and fans long aware of this scene, along with it being used to heavily market the film, to have it at any other place within Rogue Nation could very well have taken away from the style and genre of movie writer/director Chris McQuarrie had delivered. His film, while contemplative and slower paced such as Brian DePalma’s 1996 original as opposed to later installments, is more Hitchcock than McQuarrie, unless you consider McQuarrie to be more Hitchcock than other directors. I’d agree with this point if it wasn’t for his last film, Jack Reacher and work on Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow. With the A400 sequence taking place closer in the film to when the Burj Khalifa scene took place in Ghost Protocol, it would probably have been too distracting for audiences. Too many viewers might have gotten caught up in thinking too much about when they would see Cruise hang off the plane as opposed to Cruise playing cat and mouse with Sean Harris’ villain, Solomon Lane. The A400 scene used in the beginning also serves two very particular functions. McQuarrie had also revealed to Yahoo Movies the following:
“I asked myself what can I do to celebrate all those elements of the franchise; a signature sequence the way [original Mission: Impossible director]Brian De Palma did, a villain the way [Mission: Impossible III director] J.J. Abrams did, the stunts the way [Ghost Protocol director] Brad Bird did. You’ll see references to all those films throughout the movie. There’s [also]a real Easter egg for anyone who notices it — it’s almost a reverse of something from one of the earlier movies.”
The opening scene for Rogue Nation is as exciting an opening as the one M:i-2 had. It, perhaps more so, signifies McQuarrie’s belief that to try and top Ghost Protocol would be an injustice to the more prestigious franchise Mission: Impossible has become over nearly 20 years as opposed to other action movies. Unfortunately Die Hard falls into that category of offering lesser quality installments as the series went on. To focus on Rogue Nation being as strong an entry in the series, along with preserving its integrity as an actual film, the opening usage of The A400 could not have been utilized any better. The scene works as an exciting prelude and as a stellar sequence to be enjoyed independently from the rest of the film. I greatly look forward to seeing this play out in IMAX as I have tickets for the weekend, along with rewatching on Blu-Ray.
- As revealed in the DGA Q & A, Tom Cruise’s suit during The A4OO scene was his own wardrobe choice. It is an homage to Cary Grant’s suit in the plane sequence in North By Northwest. Not ironically, an Alfred Hitchcock film.
- The A400 sequence was partially inspired by the iconic sequence in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception for the PS3.
- Tom Cruise performed the sequence 8 times!
Stay tuned for more on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Up next is “A Flight at the Opera.”