He jumps, runs, flies, climbs the highest towers, rides the fastest motorbikes, beats up the meanest terrorists and doesn’t seem to be affected by the laws of physics (gravity?) or biology (nutrients? sleep? bone fractures?). One country and one mission after the other, he survives inextricable situations, pulls off impossible stunts, and overcomes the biggest tasks to save the world without batting an eyelid but with a smirk and a quip. Of course, I am speaking of Tom Cruise, or perhaps I should say Ethan Hunt, I’m not sure anymore. This fifth installment of Mission: Impossible does not falter, and without reaching the jubilant peaks of the last one (Ghost Protocol, directed by the animator Brad Bird), Rogue Nation is still the greatest blockbuster of the summer.
There is a lot to say about Tom Cruise, probably one of the most fascinating and problematic stars of the modern Hollywood, full of contradictions as much as talent. In this latest installment he meets up again with his now accomplice, Christopher McQuarrie. Obviously, Cruise is a producer on the movie (a position he undertakes in most of his films nowadays), and he dazzles the audience in the most spectacular scenes. But he also accepts to share some of the spotlight, as in the forth opus, this time not only to the benefit of his usual team members (including Simon Pegg, who is perfect as always and having the time of his life) but also – as a welcome surprise – to the benefit of a new female recruit: Rebecca Ferguson. She’s literally the only woman in the movie, but what a woman, especially given that in this saga almost all the others are pigeonholed as love interests Ethan Hunt collects without any regrets (mainly due to casting reasons: Thandie Newton didn’t want to come back after the second installment). An accomplished action heroine, she saves the agent more often than not and the story does not give in to an obligatory make out session between their characters. Moreover, she removes her high-heels to run and fight – shout-out to Jurassic World. So, are you ready to be impressed?
To witness the beginning of the Cruise-McQuarrie collaboration, you must watch Jack Reacher, a thriller true to the iconic American fiction tradition (the lone, hard to impress vigilante) with as much reverence and efficiency as humor. McQuarrie already displays his ability to shoot action scenes with an undeniable elegance, complete with shiny car chases and realistic sound effects (a technique that was unfortunately abandoned in Rogue Nation).
After this Tom Cruise parade, isn’t it the right time to surrender and dedicate a binge-watching session to the actor ? (Yes, it’s always the right time). The result: an incredibly coherent career, that he might actually be using as a form of psychoanalysis (Scientology forbids the practice, so Tom battles against his double in the beautiful Oblivion and plays an attractive and immortal guru in Interview with the Vampire). Go ahead and try to find the rare moments when Tom accepts to show his vulnerable side – probably no more than a few seconds accumulated between Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut. For endless action, fist fights and gunfires, you can get your fix with the Mission: Impossible franchise, the kitsch Top Gun, or the excellent Edge of Tomorrow. But Tom doesn’t only deliver kicks and put his body on display: sometimes, he puts his body on display, sings and dances. And this is priceless.
Translated by Leon.