A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Tom Cruise action flick “Mission Impossible – Fallout,” the surreal and surprising “Blindspot” and the political drama “Shock and Awe.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the Tom Cruise smash-’em-up “Mission Impossible – Fallout,” the surreal and surprising “Blindspot” and the political drama “Shock and Awe.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the epic action of “Mission Impossible – Fallout,” the epic emotions of “Blindspotting” and the not-so-epic “Shock and Awe.”
Writing a review for “Mission Impossible – Fallout” gave my thesaurus a workout. The film, the sixth instalment in the Tom Cruise franchise, is jammed to the gills with next-level stunts that require an expanded vocabulary to describe. Words like ‘extreme’ or ‘exciting’ or even ‘epic’ (and those are only the ‘e’ words) don’t come close to describing the behemothic action sequences contained within.
Cruise returns as the seemingly invincible action man and IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt. Hunt and his crew, tech wiz Benji (Simon Pegg) and agent Luther (Ving Rhames), are charged with finding and capturing anarchist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a baddie who was the leader of the Syndicate during the last film, “Rogue Nation.” “Whatever you heard about Lane,” explains Hunt, “if it makes your skin crawl it’s probably true.” Lane is working with the mysterious and murderous John Lark, a man with some extreme ideas about squashing the world order.
As Lark and Lane collect the necessary plutonium to fulfil their plan the CIA begins to have doubts about Hunt’s loyalty. Add to that the return of former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), and some newbies, CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) and black market arms dealer and lady of mystery White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) and you have lots of characters to fill the space between the stunts. Complicating matters is the fallout from some of Hunt’s previous, well-intentioned missions.
There are a lot of very good-looking people in “Mission Impossible – Fallout.” Handsome fellas and femme fatale‘s, they are all woven into a stylish story of international intrigue and plutonium. Like the others “MI” movies it’s packed with exotic locations—only James Bond has more air travel points than Ethan Hunt—doublespeak and double crosses but the narrative doesn’t matter that much, it’s all in service of the Bunyanesque action.
Choreographed to an inch of Hunts life—Cruise really puts himself out there for this one—the realism of the stunts gives the movie a sense of danger and the Green Screen Department the day off. Monumental, vertigo inducing single sequences take place on land, wheels, water and air. Only the screeching of tires score one eye-peeling chase scene between a motorcycle and a car. Visually it is so visceral director Christopher McQuarrie wisely avoided cluttering the scene with frenetic music. It doesn’t need it.
Of course those looking for a finely crafted John le Carré style story of espionage in “Mission Impossible – Fallout” will be bitterly disappointed. While it does contain huggerymuggery it frequently falls just this side of making sense. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. Even when Hunt isn’t in action the movie is in perpetual motion, but Frederick Forsyth this ain’t. Instead it is an elephantine (although no actual elephants appear) action epic that breaks the blockbuster norm of cutting away to an action sequence every ten minutes or so. It’s made up of three Brobdingnagian set pieces stitched together by words that mostly make sense.
When Rebecca Ferguson was cast as Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the mega Tom Cruise franchise, she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into.
“This is a Mission film,” says the Swedish actress. “You process that in your head. It means action. I don’t know what kind of action, but it will be action. I met Tom Cruise and it was phenomenal. It was welcoming and warm and coffee and chats and laughing and talking. Then we talked about the character and the build up of the script because they were working on it. They were tweaking it. There wasn’t a full script for me to read at that very specific moment but I got the gist of it.”
Ferguson, who is best known for period dramas like BBC’s The White Queen and The Cousin’s War, expected the role would be physical but adds, “they were kind enough not to inform me about the high jumps that were to be held on the first day of shooting.”
She describes her first stunt, a seventy-five foot leap from the roof of the Vienna Opera House, as, “completely, absolutely gob-smackingly terrifying.”
“I told them, ‘Look, I’m great underwater. I dive. I love all that. Jumping off buildings? I’m thinking no.’ They said, ‘That’s fine. We have stunt doubles.’ I went, ‘Stunt doubles? No, no, no, no, no. What do I have to do?’”
For weeks she trained six hours a day to meet the physical demands of the shoot and mentally prepared to overcome her vertigo for the Opera House stunt.
“We just worked our way up and got to seventy-five feet,” she says. “I did the jump.”
What went through her mind as she stepped off the building? “Don’t look down and keep your legs wrapped tightly around Tom. Jump and look cool.”
She says she was not forced into the stunt and could always have said no, but ultimately enjoyed doing it “I love the intensity of the action sequences. There is an energy that is just incredible and your heart is beating.”
The thirty-two year-old actress, who will next be seen opposite Meryl Streep in the Stephen Frears film Florence Foster Jenkins, says in those moments of stress she becomes very focussed. Later though, the weight of the situation sinks in.
“After,” she says, “it hits me. I go, ‘Is that Tom Cruise? Am I kicking ass with Tom Cruise?’”
Check the IMDB page for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. You’ll learn that Tom Cruise clung to the outside of an Airbus A400M at an elevation of 5000 feet, held his breath for six minutes underwater and performed dangerous driving scenes all without the aid of an on-camerahttps://metronewsca.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php stuntperson.
It’s not that he is trying to break the stunt union or put anyone out of work. Instead it is Cruise’s commitment to making sure the stunts in his films have a true, palpable sense of danger to them.
Much of what we see on screen these days is computer generated, illusions made up of bits and bytes, but many of the truly eye catching images we’ve seen in movies this summer were created the old fashioned way.
Remember the “car drop” scene from Furious 7? Stunt co-ordinator (and former Knight Rider stunt driver) Jack Gill actually arranged for autos to be launched out of a C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. They shot the scene twice. First aerial photographers in parachutes followed the cars as they dove from an altitude of 12,000 feet and then again from 8000 feet to get helicopter shots. The result is a wild sequence that feels like a rollercoaster ride with real cars.
After years of “following the CG evolution,” using computer generated images to create beautiful animated films like Happy Feet and Babe: A Pig in the City, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller says he was keen to go back to “old school” filmmaking “with real cars and real people and real desert.”
That means, unlike the Avengers and their ilk, respecting the laws of physics by using practical effects and keeping the action earthbound. In other words, in a call back to the original Max films — Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome — when a car blows up it doesn’t rocket into space. Instead it explodes spectacularly but organically. The wild action you see in Fury Road are actual stunts performed by stunt men and women and not generated by a clever computer operator in a studio. “It was like going back to your old home town and looking at it anew,” Miller says.
Nicholas Hoult, who plays Nux in Fury Road, says having the stunts performed for real added to his performance.
“Because it was all real it actually makes your job a lot easier,” he said. “Rather than being on a stage and having to pretend that things are happening around you and react to nothing, things are actually happening and your reactions are real.”
Carla Gugino says there was quite a bit of greenscreen action in her earthquake movie San Andreas, but adds director Brad Peyton “wanted to do as much in camera as possible.”
In one pivotal scene she and Dwayne Johnson are in a helicopter flying above the carnage.
“The helicopter was in a stage, on a greenscreen,” she says, “but was on a gimbal many, many feet up that literally dropped, dove and spun. We were twenty-five feet off the ground.”
“I think it makes a difference in watching the movie too. It feels much more viscerally connected.”
So filmmakers and actors love giving audiences the real deal thrill of practical effects, but how did Tom Cruise, what feel about hanging on to the side of an aircraft in full flight?
“This may well be our last mission,” says the Impossible Mission Force head honcho William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). “Let’s make it count.”
Five minutes into “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” Tom Cruise is seen hanging off the side of an airplane as it takes flight. His hair whipped by the wind, grip tightening as the craft puts space between him and the ground, Cruise kicks off the fifth instalment of the popular series with a stunt that proves he’s making it count. Despite what Brandt says, if audiences react expect more missions and wilder stunts.
“Rogue Nation” is set in a world where villains are really villainous, prone to theatrical evil doings like arranging an assassination during an opera so it can be scored by the dramatic operatic stylings of Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot.” Music swelling, bullets flying, it’s an over-the-top set piece in a movie that revels in its large canvas. Taking place all over the world—Vienna! London! Minsk! Casablanca!—it’s action adventure writ large, with wild stunts that would make Jackie Chan envious, cold-blooded bad guys, hot-blooded agents and double-crosses galore. At one point Hunt even swims through an underground tunnel with the speed of a Cruise Missile. This isn’t the quiet backroom intrigue of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” its James Bond on steroids.
Cruise is Ethan Hunt, über action-man described by CIA head Hunley (Alex Baldwin) as “the living manifestation of destiny.” He’s also the hands-on lead agent of the IMF, a super secret group formed to fight against the dastardly Syndicate. Their missions have taken them around the world, leaving a trail of chaos and mayhem in their wake. So much so that Hunley wants to shut them down permanently.
Instead of coming in from the field Hunt goes rogue to infiltrate the Syndicate. With the help of his old IMF cohorts—Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames)—and a possible double-agent, the fantastically named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt performs feats of derring-do and uncovers the serpentine truth behind the evil organization. Fortunately the good guys get lucky while the bad guys can’t shoot straight.
This year we have seen a very welcome return to real stunts, old school action that packs a much bigger punch than all the pixels in all the “Avengers” movie put together. Frequent Cruise collaborator and “Rogue Nation” director Christopher McQuarrie keeps the pace up, weaving loads of action into the conspiracy chicanery. More importantly he keeps the stunts organic. With hardly a green screen in sight, you can feel the danger in the stunts. Everyone has had the sensation of sitting inside a plane as it takes flight, and the land below starts to shrink as the craft gains altitude. Now imagine the same thing with Cruise on the outside of the plane. The stunt feels real and grounds the movie, and while old-school in execution, raises the bar for modern action sequences.
Despite the stunts and violence “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” has a surprisingly light touch. Funnier and with a more linear storyline than previous entries, the movie’s mission is to entertain, and in that it succeeds.