Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Review
(IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT)
Based off of the old television show, Mission Impossible movie franchise began its cinematic journey back in 1996 with its first entry and introducing the spy riddled world of character Ethan Hunt (played by actor Tom Cruise) to moviegoers everywhere. While its first entry was deemed a success, its two sequels 2000’s Mission Impossible II and Mission Impossible III were faced with mixed reviews. Perhaps the world wasn’t ready for spy bout with Cruise’s Hunt and his team that was until 2011. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the fourth feature in the series, breathed new life into the franchise and rejuvenating the brand and with more action packed vigor and (maybe) a better narrative to tell. With Mission’s mojo back Paramount Pictures gears up for Ethan Hunt’s next assignment with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Can this movie emulate the success of Ghost Protocol or has the franchise ran out of gas with this latest entry?
CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is hard-pressed to shut down the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), citing that agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has served out his usefulness and his reckless behavior is no longer called upon in the espionage world. As agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner) watches his agency shut down, Hunt is left to his own devices as he tries to halt progression of the Syndicate, a shadowy organization led by the ruthless Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Teaming back up with tech savvy Benji (Simon Pegg) and longtime friend Luther (Ving Rhames), Hunt races around the globe and tries to thwart Lane’s plans, repeatedly encountering British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who, in turn, has her own plans with the Syndicate. Racing against time, Hunt’s team must make the dangerous choice of whether or not to trust Faust in order to stop Lane and his Syndicate organization.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I remember seeing the first Mission Impossible movie in theaters when I was younger and really enjoyed it. I had no pre-existing knowledge of the old Mission Impossible television show, so I went into the movie with a blank slate opinion and thoroughly liked all the spy nuances and its narrative’s twists. Its follow-up sequels, however, (MI: II and MI: III) were, personally, just okay; adequate movies, but nothing truly great like the first one. When Ghost Protocol was released, my initial thoughts, somewhat jaded by another okay Mission Impossible movie, was blown away, favoring Ghost Protocol has one of my personal films in the franchise and renewed my interest in the series. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation channels the likeability of Ghost Protocol and proves, despite some minor negative critiques, to be very good runner up feature to the previous fourth chapter in the Ethan Hunt saga.
With Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird directing Disney’s Tomorrowland, directorial responsibilities for Rogue Nation were given to Christopher McQuarrie. McQuarrie, who’s mostly known for his screenplay work for films such as Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, and Jack Reacher (side note: all three star actor Tom Cruise) helms Rogue Nation with a similar fashion to its predecessor (i.e. Ghost Protocol) in creating a fun and thrilling movie experience. The action is fast and furious, the spy aspect is dangerous and creative, and IMF agents pursue villains and henchmen keeps with tone found in Ghost Protocol, but adds its own identity, most notably with its cinematography (the Vienna opera scene is amazing). Along with directing, McQuarrie and aided by Drew Pearce pen the script for Rogue Nation, keeping the series formula intact with clear and concise scenes of exposition, snappy dialogue, and action oriented scenes. And, of course, it’s always nice to hear the main Mission Impossible theme again incorporated with the film’s score, composed by Joe Kraemer.
Some of the negative commits I have for Rogue Nation is that it follows Ghost Protocol’s formula a tad too much, hitting somewhat familiar beats along the way. Most notably are the movie’s missions in Vienna and Casablanca, which are almost unmistakable illusions of the infiltration of the Kremlin and the Burj Khalifa mission from the last movie. The difference is that Rogue Nation, while a globe-trotting adventure, lacks the scope that Ghost Protocol achieved. This result renders seeing the movie in IMAX unnecessary (unless you’re flushed with cash or really, really want to see it in IMAX). Additionally, the movie climactic third act is little rushed and not as impactful as it could’ve been.
Whatever your opinion of him, actor Tom Cruise has led the way in Mission Impossible movies as the main character of Ethan Hunt. After he kind of went a little overboard with the media (the whole jumping on the couch on Oprah and bunch of other stuff), Cruise’s reputation was tarnished by viewers as well as his movies. That’s why Ghost Protocol (and even more recently with the sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow) was paramount for the actor, spring boarding him back in a positive light. Rogue Nation continues that trend with Cruise returning the role of Ethan Hunt, a now seasoned agent of the IMF, as Cruise still delivers good timing with his dialogues as well as expressing the character with physically vulnerabilities and disadvantages while on missions. Though he’s doesn’t have a wholesome character arc in Rogue Nation as in previous installments, I still have to applaud Cruise for continuing to be fully committed to the role that he began back in the mid 90s (both theatrically and physically).
Newcomer to the franchise is actress Rebecca Ferguson as the elusive female Ilsa Faust. Ferguson, who many might recognize from the television series The White Queen, brings to the Rogue Nation table a character that has witty sophistication and a couple of bad-ass femme fatale fighting moments. She’s a great addition to the IMF team and here’s to hoping that she pops up again in future installments. Simon Pegg again delivers a solid role as the tech guru Benji with plenty of comic relief (a little dialed back from Ghost Protocol) as well a couple of dramatic moments for his character. Fans of Jeremy Renner will be slightly disappointed as his character of agent Brandt doesn’t have a strong appearance as in the previous movie, but he and series veteran Luther (played by Ving Rhames) get their own side story of working together, creating a little buddy cop comedy material between the two of them.
Rogue Nation’s antagonist Solomon Lane, played by actor Sean Harris, is a little undercooked. He’s not that quite memorable or as menacing as the film portrays him to be and is probably one of my biggest negative remarks about the movie in general. If Rogue Nation had a better villain, I think the film could’ve been that much better. In truth, Solomon’s main henchmen Janik “Bone Doctor” Vinter, played by Jens Hulten, is more memorable and gets more screen time than his villain boss does. Alec Baldwin’s character isn’t a very dynamic one, but the actor gets the role down pat as the stern and authoritative CIA director Hunley. The same goes for actor Simon McBurney and Tom Hollander, who serve up solid minor roles as the director of MI6 and Britain’s Prime Minister, respectfully.
Is Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation worth seeing. I personal say that’s a definite yes. The fifth film of the ongoing series captures the wit and charm from Ghost Protocol installment and delivers a strong and exciting blockbuster installment for moviegoers this summer. There are some slight nitpicks of criticism here and there, but, for the most part, Rogue Nation is still highly enjoyable as pure movie escapism with its steady action spy premise, its lead actor (Cruise does excel in this role), and great supporting actors (both old familiars and new appearances). As it stands, Rogue Nation also solidifies that the nineteen year old movie franchise can still be as fresh and exhilarating as it was back in 1996. I personally can’t wait to buy this movie on Blu-Ray when it comes out and can’t wait to see where Mission Impossible 6, which is already in development, will take Ethan and his team.