Introducing the latest in the franchise, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, to an East Hampton audience that included Rudy Giuliani, Lorne Michaels, Matt Lauer, Gayle King, Dan Abrams, Christie Brinkley, Alec Baldwin, who plays it straight as CIA boss Allen Hunley, quipped about how it works to be in a big budget Hollywood movie: they need you to turn your head a different way, and fly you back to London to reshoot. He went six times--and to Casablanca too, said Hilaria Baldwin at the after party at The Blue Parrot.
The new Tom Cruise movie under Christopher McQuarrie's sharp direction--he also scripted-- begins with Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt hanging off an airplane as it takes off. We are in Belarus, and Simon Pegg, as his scene stealing sidekick hidden in the sod is tasked with getting the doors to open for our hero. His efforts result in more door fake outs than a Feydeau farce. And a plot involving Chechen rebels and nerve gas is averted. Count Jeremy Renner as William Brandt and a terrific Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell among the "good" guys. And we're off on another action packed, gadget deploying, globetrotting adventure with danger galore, some body mangling martial arts, duplicitous agents and fascinating cutlery wielded by "The Bone Doctor" (Jens Hulten). In other words, from the moment you hear Lalo Schifrin's iconic score (remember the television series on which the movies are based), you are home.
But his is not the only music. One daring sequence has Hunt in the wings of the Vienna Opera for a performance of Turandot. He's trying to keep a murderous villain from taking out the Austrian head of state. A curvaceous Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust (Ilsa from Casablanca and Faust as in the legendary pact with the devil?) matches him stunt for stunt, but is she friend or foe? While there's a hint of romance, with her asking Hunt to come away with her, what that would be like is left to your imagination. Besides, they must work toward the higher goal: to break the Syndicate and its evil mastermind (Sean Harris).
Whether or not this fun summer movie is the best yet will be a point debated by Mission Impossible fans, but to ride out the rest of the season, this is one hugely satisfying film to see.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.