Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, Vacation, and a historic debate
Six new films arrive and a Bernard Shakey retrospective, too.
That’s the name Neil Young uses when he directs a film. He’s being doing that for over 40 years and this series at the Cinematheque pulls together his own films, like Greendale and Rust Never Sleeps, films about him (Neil Young Trunk Show by Jonathan Demme and Solo Trans by Hal Ashby) and a classic collaboration with Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man, for which he did the stark and echoey music.
These are the new arrivals:
Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation: 3 ½ stars
Best of Enemies: 4
Madame Bovary: 2 ½
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION: You’d think that the Impossible Missions Force would get more respect after the last film when it was shut down but redeemed itself. That was so 2011. Now they’re being shut down again at the behest of Alec Baldwin playing the head of the CIA. He thinks Tom Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, has gone rogue with wild delusions about a world-wide organization of bad guys called the Syndicate. It doesn’t exist, he says but we know better. With motorcycle and car chases, a bit of torture, a spectacular hanging-on-to-an-airplane stunt that Cruise seems to have actually done himself and a Hitchcock-worthy attempted assassination during a Vienna State Opera performance of Turandot we get one of the liveliest and most entertaining movies of the summer.
A trio of underperforming films and most recently that Scientology documentary don’t seem to have hurt Cruise. He’s up to speed again, a confident action hero who follows the trail of a “terrorist superpower,” almost dies in one sequence and generally duplicates the anything-is-possible fantasy of the old TV series. In a refreshing change, the woman he’s teamed with isn’t some hot babe but a mature adult played by Rebecca Ferguson, probably best known for the British mini-series, The White Queen. They’re a good match, equals, with hints of real chemistry. And she provides one of the most engrossing story lines.
Which side is she on? The script works hard to throw up real and false leads and keep us unsure almost to the end. That adds to a light, agile feel created by director Christopher McQuarrie. He also wrote it and has worked several times before with Cruise. In one sense he overreaches, though; his story veers away from its TV roots and steps into John le Carré territory to explore what is really going on. There it becomes unnecessarily convoluted. Don’t fret about it; just go for the ride. (The Park, Dunbar, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5
VACATION: The original film from 1983 (despite its R rating back then) and its four sequels have been popular family viewing on video. So why would Warners practically cut off that audience with this mean-spirited, smutty travesty where the humour is intermittent and even the kids speak in foul language? Real families don’t talk that way or ask, “What’s a rim job?” when it’s time for a dad-and-lad talk. This is a film with a streak of anti-family sentiment in its humour, as well as flashes of ageism, homophobia, dick jokes and finally an exposed penis. The two writer-directors previously created the equally nasty Horrible Bosses films.
Rusty Griswold was a boy when the family first drove to Wally World. Now he’s Ed Helms and leads his family on a sentimental journey to the same place, with Christina Applegate as his wife and two bickering sons in the backseat. Pretty well everything at Wally World, and on the way there, goes wrong. They bathe in a sewer outfall, learn that back in college mom was known as “Debbie Do Anything” and visit a brother-in-law (Chris Hemsworth, Thor in other films) who stands around a lot with an erection. Calling in on the original Griswolds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo) is a dull disappointment. There is funny stuff too but it’s buried by the other. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 2 out of 5