Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, 2015.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin.
Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.
Director Christopher McQuarrie (whom recently partnered with Tom Cruise on Jack Reacher) makes an interesting decision to begin Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation with the heavily promoted and marketed, seemingly death-defying stunt of Ethan Hunt running across the wing of a plane, hanging on it, and so many more acrobatic feats that Tom Cruise insisted he do for real. On one hand the movie starts off with an explosion of adrenaline coursing through your body, but it also leaves the question “Did this movie just send its greatest player to bat first?”
The answer is a mixture of yes and no; Rogue Nation does kick off with its most dazzling set-piece first, but that doesn’t mean everything left to follow can’t at least match the excitement. Simply put, the first two acts of Rogue Nation are relentlessly superb in regards to providing nonstop thrills and action. Neither the opera house assassination sequence, high-speed motorcycle chases throughout Morocco, or even Cruise violently being tossed around under pressurized water (another crazy stunt Tom Cruise performed, reportedly holding his breath for six minutes) are on the level of hijacking cargo from the plane, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t some of the best action sequences among both the franchise and year for film.
Every one of these elaborate action sequences is also assisted by some beautiful scenery (Rogue Nation loves globetrotting around the world including locales such as Vienna, London, Morocco and more) and cinematography that manages to capture sneaking, fighting, and vehicular chases with utmost confidence and clarity. The entire opera house scene not only lasts a good 20 minutes, but it is meticulously crafted with a slow and unnerving pace that slowly introduce assassins while never answering what each character is doing there until it erupts in a crescendo of violence. Complements also go to the aforementioned pressurized underwater sequence which wisely uses very little sound, appropriately conveying the muffled atmosphere when that far down under. Even the camera swings around in a circle as Tom Cruise is knocked off-balance by rotating beams, creating a terrifying sense of dread. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has masterful editing and cinematography to further showcase the excellence found within each breathtakingly thrilling bout of chaos.
It’s not just about Tom Cruise putting his life on the line with his jaw-dropping stunts however, as Rogue Nation once again surrounds the rockstar of acting with a strong supporting cast that heightens the dramatic beats of the narrative while providing some good comedic relief moments. Simon Pegg’s Benji is once again the best of both worlds here, providing humorous quips while maintaining the understanding of how dangerous and consuming this mission is becoming for Ethan. Also welcome here is the addition of a female spy played by Rebecca Ferguson which works wonders; she isn’t just eye candy but rather very deadly and competent in hand-to-hand action. The story also loves twisting up the viewer’s brain with where her allegiance rests.
Unfortunately Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames don’t get to see much action, most notably because the IMF is disbanded. This leaves Renner operating for the CIA while getting into arguments with Alec Baldwin about the pros and cons of how the IMF once operated. It’s not very entertaining and the scenes are easily the lowest point of an otherwise fantastic summer blockbuster.
The only major problem with Rogue Nation is that it peaks early and at a little over halfway through the film, the action sequences and intense spy shenanigans run out of steam. None of the big moments in the final act come close to how awesome everything prior was, and instead gets tangled by convoluted plot points and a villain that is nothing more than your standard evil generic foreigner. Sean Harris can’t be blamed; he certainly puts forth effort with a menacing voice but his character is too weakly defined and motivated by clichés to really elicit hatred. That doesn’t mean any of the stuff here is bad, it’s quite the contrary as the events are still very fun to watch unfold, but rather that the fuse has fizzled out during the home stretch.
Even with that one glaring problem Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is in good company among one of the best films of both the summer and year. Tom Cruise is quickly beginning to rival Jackie Chan in the realm of batshit crazy stunt work, the action sequences are sublime and visually gorgeous (especially considering how much lampooning around the world goes on), there is a battle hardened female companion, and very solid direction that makes the 132 minute running time move along briskly. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go see the best movie of the summer.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook