Photos: Paramount Pictures
With four installments spanning the better part of two decades, the Mission Impossible franchise has definitely had its ups and downs over the years. With a different director each time, the Mission Impossible films never seem to capture the same unifying style that the similar James Bond canon manages to do so well. In a sense, as opposed to James Bond, what the MI series lacked in consistency, it gained in personality. Enter “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.” For the first time ever, director Christopher McQuarrie ("Jack Reacher") attempts and succeeds in giving the Ethan Hunt character a serialized set of characters, desires, and back-story all while delivering a uniquely satisfying stand alone story.
Under JJ Abram’s Bad Robot production shingle, Rogue Nation is the first Mission Impossible film that looks, feels, and plays like a sequel. As a refresher, that first film in the series would have been 2011’s "Ghost Protocol" directed by Brad Bird.
It doesn’t take long to experience McQuarrie’s vision of the series. Within the first five minutes, Tom Cruise — at 53-years old mind you — summersaults his way onto a mega-sized airplane as it prepares to take flight. The stunt is both harrowing and hilarious — a mix that suits the storyline decidedly well. Making the opening scene that much more of a marvel is the fact that Cruise himself, not a stuntman, performs all of the high-flying antics.
As the story heats up, we meet the rest of Ethan’s crew including Jeremy Renner ("Avengers"), Simon Pegg ("Shaun of the Dead"), and Ving Rhames ("Pulp Fiction"). We also come face to face with the overarching villain of the movie played by Sean Harris ("Prometheus").
It is at this point, deep under-cover in London that Hunt discovers that his entire world, his life mission, is within his grasp. After spending his entire adult life hunting the evil-doing Syndicate group, he has finally figured out the mastermind responsible for starting it all. The only problem; The Syndicate has also done their research on Hunt and knows exactly how to get to his heart. Mainly, this comes in the form of a femme fatale double agent played by Rebecca Ferguson ("Hercules").
For longtime fans of the series, rest easy, all of the essentials are still there. Absolutely ridiculous gadgets (sheet music surveillance system, anyone?) and hard-hitting PG-13 action scenes are delivered at an impressive clip. Additionally, myriad tantalizing locales and plenty of beautiful women are featured throughout the course of the over 2-hour run-time. The only thing lacking from this edition, however, becomes delivering on an overall villain worthy of Ethan Hunt’s attention. The Syndicate’s side-plot is mostly overlooked as McQuarrie instead focuses his screen-time packing in as much killer fistfights and car chases as possible. Which, in all honesty, is not necessarily a bad thing.
There is also a resounding sense of humor, first started in "Ghost Protocol," which definitely allows Mission Impossibleto charm its way through all of the flimsy plot logic. The film is resoundingly tongue-in-cheek when it comes to filling awkward plot holes, and Cruise’s charm and overall presence that he brings to the Ethan Hunt role helps assuage any negative feedback that might come out of the film’s weaker moments.
In the end, the action is the real draw, and it doesn’t disappoint. The previously mentioned plane sequence is just a small appetizer to the overall, jaw-dropping spectacle that is Rogue Nation. Another really great scene involves a pack of ferociously charging motorcycles that roars through the crowded streets of Morocco. Robert Elswit’s ("There Will Be Blood") cinematography is stunning during moments like these.
Imagine, for a second, that you are the American super spy Ethan Hunt. After a long day slaying bad guys as part of the infamous IMF origination, you’re ready to relax a bit and watch a movie. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the classic Mission Impossible assignment voice cuts in: “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” The decision, of course, is yours to make. But if I had the choice, I’d accept the challenge because the latest installment to the long running MI franchise is a helluva fun action trip.
Just for effect, this review will self destruct in five…four…three…two…
By David Morris
Running Time: 2hrs 11min
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity