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Arts & Culture

'Mission Impossible' Is A Fun Adrenaline Rush

Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise engage in an intense car chase in "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation."
Paramount
Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise engage in an intense car chase in "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation."

But 'Rogue Nation' is not as good as previous 'Ghost Protocol'

'Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation'
KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation."

ANCHOR INTRO: Spies are back in style as the Mission Impossible and 007 franchises serve up new entries, and the Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show gets a big screen reboot. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says the latest Mission Impossible film looks a lot like an old James Bond film. CLIP Music Hunt. Ethan Hunt. Tom Cruise might as well start introducing himself that way because Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is taking more cues from the Roger Moore James Bond films than from the old Peter Graves TV show. That’s not a bad thing. Like the Moore 007 films, Rogue Nation is more comic than serious, emphasizes exotic locales, and pits the protagonists against a rival spy organization. CLIP The Syndicate is real Mission Impossible took its time to finding a successful formula. The first film by Brian DePalma was lethargic, the second by John Woo was actin packed but dumb, the third by J.J. Abrams was passable but it was not until the fourth film, subtitled Ghost Protocol that Brad Bird finally nailed the formula that worked. Key is poking fun at Cruise as the action hero and let him take a beating in fights and stunts to show he’s all too human and fallible. And then focus on the team – especially Simon Pegg -- and not just him. Your mission if you choose to accept it, is to go out and have some mindless, escapist fun. Rogue Nation isn’t as good as Ghost Protocol but it’s a decent adrenaline rush. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

Companion Viewing

"The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977)

"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" (2011)

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" (2014)

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Spies are back in style as the "Mission Impossible" and 007 franchises serve up new entries, and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." TV show gets a big screen reboot. The latest "Mission Impossible" film looks a lot like an old James Bond film.

Hunt. Ethan Hunt.

Tom Cruise might as well just start introducing himself that way because "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" is taking more cues from the Roger Moore James Bond films than from the old Peter Graves TV show.

That’s not a bad thing. Like the best Moore 007 films (like "The Spy Who Loved Me"), "Rogue Nation" is more comedic than serious, emphasizes exotic locales, and pits the protagonists against a rival spy organization (Bond had and still has SPECTRE while Hunt faces off against The Syndicate).

"Mission Impossible" took its time to finding a successful formula. The first film by Brian DePalma was lethargic and notoriously started shooting before a script was completed because the studio was locked into a summer release date.

The second by John Woo was action-packed (with a memorable motorcycle stunt) but inanely dumb. The third by J.J. Abrams was passable and a decided improvement. But it was not until the fourth film, subtitled "Ghost Protocol" that Brad Bird finally nailed the formula that worked. Key to the success is poking fun at Cruise as the action hero and letting him take a beating in fights and stunts to show he’s all too human and fallible. And then focus on the team – especially Simon Pegg -- and not just him.

Taking this tact refreshed the franchise and made it far more entertaining and light. It was a smart move by Bird.

Now Christopher McQuarrie takes over the directing reins and continues in the same vein although not quite as adeptly as Bird. McQuarrie has written scripts for Cruise in the past ("Valkyrie," "Jack Reacher") but it wasn't until his most recent one for "Edge of Tomorrow" that he too hit on the notion of not taking Cruise too seriously as an action star. To his credit, McQuarrie keeps a brisk pace until the end when he draws things out a bit.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go out and have some mindless, escapist fun.

"Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" (rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity) isn’t as good as "Ghost Protocol" but it’s a decent adrenaline rush.