Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation photo starrating-4stars.jpgMost films are launched by the best entry and continue with subsequent sequels over a steady course of decreasing returns. The Mission: Impossible spy movies, however, buck that trend. By and large, these flicks just seem to keep getting better and more focused. This has a lot to to do with the point at which the series started. The 1996 Mission: Impossible picture that kicked off the franchise was a web of switching allegiances that unraveled into a convoluted mess. I still won’t spoil the plot of a near 20 year old movie, but it actually managed to dishonor the heart of the original TV show. Fast forward to the 4th installment, 2011’s Ghost Protocol, and it achieved an apex. Now we have number 5. While Rogue Nation doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, it’s still an efficiently written, well acted and directed thriller overflowing with stunts infused with a healthy dose of wit.

The story has Hunt as his team trying to prove the existence of The Syndicate. This is some evil international organization intent on taking down Tom Cruise and the rest of the Impossible Missions Force. Rogue Nation assembles some familiar faces: Tom Cruise along with Ving Rhames are a constant in every film. I suppose there will come a day where Crusie will be replaced by a younger actor. I must say though, given his superhuman feats of derring-do, that day isn’t any time soon. He exudes nothing but the aura of a vibrant action star. 53 years old never looked so good. Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner have reunited as well. The men are a bit more consistent. The Mission women on the other hand, are a revolving door. Past femme fatales Thandie Newton, Michelle Monaghan and Paula Patton are out. Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is in. A welcome addition, she plays an able bodied agent whose mysterious loyalties are unclear.

MI:5 starts off with a seemingly death-defying action extravaganza that has Ethan Hunt jumping on a plane to seize some missiles loaded with nerve gas. That he must cling to the outside of the plane as it takes off is par of the course for this globetrotter. It’s hard in this day and age of computer effects to impress with stunts anymore. That the mighty feat is seemingly accomplished without the aid of computers adds to the excitement. Sometimes it’s a sprint through the streets of London or swinging on a curtain rope backstage at the opera. Other times a car chase through the winding roads of Casablanca morphs into a a motorcycle race through mountain highways. How about a soaring altitude jump into a massive circular tank of water where our hero must hold his breath for SIX minutes. He must swim to the bottom of an underwater tunnel to switch out a profile card to allow his associate unrestricted access into a maximum security stronghold. The action never fails to thrill.

Christopher McQuarrie is the writer behind Valkyrie (2008), Jack Reacher (2012) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – all movies starring Tom Cruise, The two have joined forces again for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation where McQuarrie also directs the actor for a second time. Their close working relationship produces a lively production that is high on fun and low on overwrought complications of the earlier entries in this franchise. Colorful stunt-filled escapades dramatically utilize the full scope of the wide screen. In truth, the production is little more than a series of athletic exploits that dazzle the eye. Yet each tableau is so great that any one of them could easily serve as the climax of its own film. The excessive 2 hour+ run time does wear on the viewer. Call it too much of a good thing. Still, it’s the breathtaking stunts that genuinely sell this picture. Can I emphasize how much this Hitchcock fan truly appreciated that “Man Who Knew Too Much“-inspired assassination attempt at the Vienna Opera House? Well I did…a lot.

07-10-15

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24 Responses to “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

  1. Crazy enough, I’ve only seen MI1, so being the completionist I usually am, I want to see those before this one.

    But, I’ve also heard that the only one I really need to watch before this one is 4, as the rest are more or less episodes that aren’t all that corrected to the grand scheme of things. So maybe I’ll break tradition and watch this out of order. I’m almost sure I’d enjoy 🙂

    • One of the great things about the Mission Impossible action franchise is that each picture is a stand-alone film with a self-contained story. No need to watch one in order to understand another. 🙂

  2. Ooh, you have me at that Hitchcock nod. I’m down. Great review.

  3. Nice review Mark. I enjoyed the past two Mission Impossible movies more than I expected I would. Hoping to catch this movie soon.

  4. Great review Mark. You’re right about MI:1, all that stands out is the hanging from the ceiling scene and the train finale, the rest is pretty unmemorable. I hated MI:2, the third one I thought was underrated and I really enjoyed Ghost Protocol. The trailer looks great and now I’ve read this, I’m even more confident I’ll like it.

    • Regarding Mission: Impossible II – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so blatantly made to highlight a lead actor’s hair. It’s a Vidal Sassoon commercial.

  5. Just saw this yesterday at a drive-in theater. My first time at one of those. Thought this was the best of the series.

    • There’s only one drive-in left in the Bay Area – the San Jose Capitol Drive-In. They charge $7.50/person and you can see Mission: Impossible along with Ant-Man for the same price as a double feature. On Tuesdays it’s just $5. What a deal!

      • Gosh, that’s even cheaper than the one I went to! The one I went to (in New York State) charged $9 per person, and I think it was open only Fridays and Saturdays. I was really surprised how packed it was, though.

  6. I totally enjoyed Ghost Protocol so I’m glad to hear Rogue Nation keeps this franchise going on strong. I’ll probably check this one out very soon. Good review Mark!

  7. Great piece. Super excited about this one. LOVED Ghost Protocol.

  8. Great review Mark, Rogue Nation was excellent – time (and repeat viewings) will probably tell if I like it as much as Ghost Protocol. The circular tank sequence was a real highlight.

  9. The main aspect that makes Mission Impossible always a one to look up to is the use of new directors every movie. Each one of them brings something different to the franchise.

    • That is a great point. Each film is a specific director’s version of esentially the same movie. Every film has lead actor Cruise, amiable banter, crazy stunts and a mildly incomprehensible plot requiring technology.

  10. These keep getting better and better. Tom Cruise is not aging. He’s 53! The stunts are so good. I especially loved the motorcycle chase, that was cool. Keep em coming. MI6, can’t wait. 4 stars.

  11. I totally agree that Mission: Impossible movies buck the sequel trend by becoming better and more focused. Personally I liked Rogue Nation better as a whole than Ghost Protocol. Rogue Nation has so many high tension scenes (like the underwater heist and assassination attempt that you mention) that made for a thrilling experience. That combined with the great villain and mysterious loyalty of Rebecca Ferguson’s character really entertained me.

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