Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Warp Speed, Scotty.

MI 5Love him or loathe him, Tom Cruise is box office Teflon, shrugging off sticky questions about his private life with a blinding white grin as the tills keep ringing. His latest, MI5, shows no sign of bucking the trend.

 

You know the drill. Tom is Ethan Hunt – so named long before a certain Tory Culture Secretary became the nemesis of BBC news presenters. Can you imagine John Humphries covering the MI5 red carpet? The Sloth would gladly pay to see the ensuing Wrath of Scientology reign down. But we digress.

 

Ethan pops up in London, specifically in a vintage record store (Kids, people used to buy music in flat black plastic circles. Yes, really), to receive details of his latest mission. Except he’s been duped. Instead, he’s been lured there in an assassination attempt by The Syndicate, a rogue terrorist organisation intent on destroying both Ethan and the IMF. But he escapes, because he can’t get killed in the first scenes, vowing to hunt down and destroy The Syndicate.

 

Back in the US, IMF boss Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is embroiled in a battle with head of the CIA, Hunley (Alec Baldwin), who tries and succeeds to get the IMF shut down. So Ethan has no choice but to Go Rogue himself, taking trusty Scotty, sorry, Benji (Simon Pegg) with him in his pursuit of The Syndicate. So ensues a non-stop, all action romp that takes in Europe, Morocco and the US, a ton of proper, Old Skool stunts which Mr Cruise, looking remarkably spritely for his 53 years, did the majority of himself, including hanging for dear life onto the side of an airborne plane and an epic underwater scene where either his acting skills are superlative or he really was on the brink of drowning.

 

All in all, it flies along at a rollicking pace and is great, popcorn fun. Not least due to being backed up by a smart, supporting cast including Rebecca Ferguson as kick-ass agent Ilsa Faust (at which point forgive us for getting on our high horse but, having given us a strong female character, the producers totally let themselves down by including a completely gratuitous arse-shot. Come on, you’re better than that) and the marvellous Tom Hollander as the UK PM with Simon McBurney as Atlee, his advisor. Yes, UK TV ‘Rev’ viewers, that’s Rev and The Archdeacon together in a Hollywood movie!  Obvs we were waiting with bated breath for Atlee to announce he “can’t stop, I’m late for brunch at The Wolseley with Melyvn Bragg” and were most disappointed when it didn’t happen. Maybe keep it in mind for MI6?

UK release 30 July

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Edge Of Tomorrow. Groundhog D-Day.

edge of tomrLet’s address the elephant in the room. Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise.  Whatever your personal view, Tom’s not been public flavour of the month for some time. Rather ingeniously, Edge of Tomorrow capitalises on this.

The world is at war with Mimics – alien spider-like creatures fond of killing people. No idea why they are called Mimics, we didn’t spot them doing Tommy Cooper impressions (with all those legs they could have done a great cup & ball trick).  Tom plays US Army Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage. Except Cage doesn’t do combat. He’s just a slick, oily, dirty-dealing media frontman who exists to spin TV sound bites. Read – we’re not meant to like him.

But Cage soon gets his comeuppance when he is ordered to the battle frontline. Scorned by his fellow soldiers, battle virgin Cage enters the brutal warzone terrified and unprepared, lasting all of 20 minutes before meeting his maker at the hands of a Mimic. But then he wakes up. And finds himself back at the beginning of the same day, before he entered the warzone.

Yes kids, it’s Groundhog Day.  Destined to live the same day out repeatedly until he is eventually killed, Cage must learn from his mistakes to survive longer each time. Eventually, he lasts long enough to meet star soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt – scary) a Lara Croft-a-like who believes Cage’s time-warping talent is the key to winning the war.

There are lots of good things here- aliens!  Cruise being obnoxious! He’s great at vile, we wish he’d do it more often. Annoyingly, he got nicer as it progressed. Boo. We were also blown away by some of the effects; the war scenes were so terrifyingly realistic we wanted a flak jacket.  Our main gripe is it’s a touch too long. Take a short nap through some repeats of repeated scenes and wake up in time for the ending – just like that!

UK release 30 May. More Sci-Fi monsters? Try Godzilla.

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