FILM: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
CAST: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
DIRECTOR: Christopher McQuarrie
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team from the popular movie franchise take on their most impossible mission yet: eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization, as highly skilled as they are, who are committed to destroying the IMF.
Upping the Action
Scale – epic, heart-hammering scale – has been at the heart of ‘Mission: Impossible’ since the original television series, which took viewers on grand escapades that broke the boundaries of television’s usually narrow scope. But in an era when audiences have seen so much in the way of dazzling effects and clever stunts, how do you keep pitching the bar higher and higher?
The answer, says ‘Rogue Nation’ director Christopher McQuarrie, is to not think about the bar at all. Instead, think about telling the story in the most visceral, uncompromising way you can.
“I think a big component of how we approached this was to not talk about comparisons,” he counters. “You can see that the Torus sequence follows in the tradition of the Langley Heist that Brian De Palma did in the first film; or the A400 plane sequence follows in the tradition of the Burj Khalifa climb in ‘Ghost Protocol’; or the Morocco motorcycle chases follow in the footsteps of John Woo’s climactic chase in ‘Mission: Impossible II.’ But I think trying to compare them is apples to oranges. The more important question is: am I doing the continuation of the story in ‘Rogue Nation’ justice? The thing we’ve seen is that it’s not only about creating spectacles. We found that the more intimate we made this film, the greater the audience investment was, and the higher the stakes, in every scene.”
Nevertheless, the sequences McQuarrie mentions most certainly did push cast and crew to places they never even foresaw going.
Producer Dana Goldberg notes that ‘Mission Impossible’ star Tom Cruise is driven by a total commitment to full-scale action realism. “Tom likes to say these are deceptively hard movies to make. They might not involve a lot of high-tech visual effects, but instead of visual effects, you’re working with extreme practical action, lots of challenging locations, and it’s all very intense, hands-on work.”
For Cruise, the hands-on work begins early: every single ‘Mission: Impossible’ film kicks off with a period of intensive physical preparation. Only this time he had to start anew, honing skills that haven’t come into play before. “The way I work on ‘Mission’ movies is that I like to spend months and months and months ahead of time prepping every sequence, really breaking them down and sectioning off the proper time for the physical training,” explains the actor. “I go into each movie expecting to learn new things and learning new ways of doing things where I already have skills.”
This process on ‘Rogue Nation’ was carried out in careful calibration with Wade Eastwood, the film’s stunt coordinator. Born in South Africa, Eastwood was an athlete before taking on his first film job: jumping out of a helicopter for a war movie. From there he was hooked on performing and creating the most creative stunts he could imagine, rig and bring to life.
Eastwood says there could be no better partner for truly creative stunt work than Cruise. “Tom is so good at this he could have been a great stuntman if he wasn’t already a great actor. So working with him is like working with the very best stunt person…except he’s combining performance within the action in unique ways. He does 100% of his own stuff – and that’s not just for the media, that’s the truth,” Eastwood asserts. “For him it’s never just about the stunt, but about fully creating his character as an agent who has learned to survive by the skin of his teeth.”
He adds: “The best part of working with Tom is that he’s never satisfied. He always asks: how can we better this? That’s exciting and we both came to ‘Rogue Nation’ believing we were going to create the best stunts we’ve ever been involved in. We were always looking for those little unique moments that make the action in this film feel new and different.”
Cruise says Eastwood walked the same tightrope the franchise walks. “Wade is very conscious of safety, but he also knows, this is ‘Mission’, so we’ve got to push it all the way to the edge. He can do that because all the people he works with are top of the line.”
No one was surprised that Cruise refused to rest on his laurels when it came to the action. Jokes pop culture mastermind and ‘Rogue Nation’ producer, as well as the director of ‘Mission Impossible 3’, J.J. Abrams: “I think one of the hardest things about doing any ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie is just trying to convince Tom not to literally do every possible life-threatening stunt, because he just will go to that place.”
FILM: LILA & EVE
CAST: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez
DIRECTOR: Charles Stone III
A tense action thriller, ‘Lila & Eve’ tells the story of Lila (Academy Award Nominee Viola Davis), a grief-stricken mother who in the aftermath of her son’s murder in a drive-by shooting attends a support group where she meets Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who has lost her daughter. When Lila hits numerous roadblocks from the police in bringing justice for her son’s slaying, Eve urges Lila to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. The two women soon embark on a violent pursuit of justice, as they work to the top of the chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder of Lila’s son.
What drew director Charles Stone III to the script was two-fold: “The initial idea was simply seeing a single mother take on the male-dominated justice system and crime world. But on a deeper level, the emotional journey the mother takes in trying to understand her darker feelings of anger from losing her son made me want to commit to the project,” says the filmmaker.
CAST: Alexander Goyette, Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Patrick Huard, Suzanne Clement
DIRECTOR: Xavier Dolan
In a fictionalized futurist world, a new law allows distressed parents to abandon their troubled children to the hospital system. Diane “Die” Despres (Anne Dorval), a feisty single mother, has to pick up her teenage son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) from the institution where he lives, because he’s hurt a smaller boy. Steve, who has ADHD, is wild, yet charismatic. While she struggles to make ends meet and raise Steve with values, they meet Kyla, a mysterious neighbour who has trouble speaking after a traumatic incident. She’s a former teacher and when Die asks for her help, she reluctantly agrees to homeschool Steve. Even so, Die has trouble with Steve, who has bouts of violent rage and she finally has to decide if she can continue to cope with him at home.