Release date: July 31, 2015
Written and directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, and Alec Baldwin
Hate on Tom Cruise all you want, but man….that dude is fun to watch. “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” is the fifth installment in this franchise based on the old TV series, but it’s showing zero signs of running out of ways to thrill and entertain. Slow at times maybe and lacking in the originality department, sure: but this mission, should you choose to accept it, is the most entertaining action movie of the summer.
Picking up months after the events of “Ghost Protocol”, “Rogue Nation” catches up with Ethan and his IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team attempting to stop a terrorist group called The Syndicate, which has been terrorizing not only Ethan Hunt and his American IMF team, but the rest of the world for years. Their path of destruction has cast a spotlight on Ethan’s team, and their knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the IMF is shut down by Senator Hunley (Alec Baldwin), Ethan is (once again) on the run to prove his innocence and bring down the Syndicate.
“Rogue Nation” manages to finally do what the others have failed to do, and that is to finally establish the team element that has been missing for most of the series, although producer Abrams (who directed the third film), has helped to right that course. It also establishes an antagonist – The Syndicate was the long running threat on the TV series — that can continue to serve as a foil for future films.
What stands out about this installment is there isn’t a global threat. The Syndicate, as a group, stands as a formidable threat, but this isn’t about nuking the world or letting loose a virus that will kill millions. It is, even with the high stakes, a much more personal film. The film’s villain, played by British actor Sean Harris, acts as a worthy counter opponent for Hunt. Harris plays the part with an icy cool sense of vengeance, that helps him to stand out as one of the best villains of the series so far.
A usual, in the “M:I” tradition, a fresh set of eyes takes over the director’s chair. Christopher McQuarrie, who has written incredible screenplays (ex: “The Usual Suspects”) and directed so-so movies, (ex: “Jack Reacher”, also starring Cruise), takes over and sends the mood and aesthetic back to the noir-spy-thriller vibe introduced in the original. McQuarrie continues to learn from mistakes made from his previous films, delivering a thrilling, entertaining, and funny flick. McQuarrie clearly has a writer’s voice that speaks to Cruise’s adrenaline junkie talents. He also wrote the screenplays for “Valkyrie” and last summer’s underrated “Edge of Tomorrow”. They work well together and that chemistry comes through in Ethan Hunt.
The only thing really causing an issue is this movie doesn’t really offer anything that hasn’t been seen before, rehashing several plot beats used throughout the series, and the film lacks epic climax we’ve come to expect. At times, the movie feels slow, but it’s a methodical approach with Hunt’s character that pays off because his relationships feel real — not only with his IMF teammates: Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames are all back, but also with the lone major female character (tisk, tisk), a new British Op double agent, played by Rebecca Ferguson.
The action set pieces are once again phenomenal – an opening scene features Cruise hanging from a cargo plane as it takes off (and yes, it’s really him!), another intense sequence involves Hunt breaking into a vault submerged under water is a lot of fun. It all feels like something cooked up in Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible” kitchen. But you know what? It’s a formula that continues to work. These films know what they do best and they continue to top themselves each time out, without re-inventing the spy genre wheel.
“Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” is a slow burn of an action flick that will keep you on the edge of your seat with a smile on your face.