Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation- Another mission handled successfully by Cruise and co.

Since the franchise started on the big screen in 1996 (the television series ran from 1966-1973), the Mission: Impossible movies have secured their place in the annals of cinematic spy thrillers, with star Tom Cruise leading the way in the role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt. It may has misstepped a little with the 2000 film directed by John Woo (though it did have some stylish action pieces to go along with its ridiculous plot), then regained its footing when J.J. Abrams took the helm for the third outing. The last outing, Ghost Protocol (2011), was ably handled by director Brad Bird. Now Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow) steps in as writer and director. Is the new Mission completed successfully? For the most part the answer to that is yes, yes it is.

The film opens with the trailer’s centerpiece. No, that shot of Cruise hanging off the side of a plane at 5000 feet isn’t at the climax of the movie. Instead, it kicks things off as Cruise and co. try to stop a shipment of lethal chemical weapons. The stunt does look impressive, and the back and forth between Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames), and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) as Ethan tries to board the plane is quite amusing. It’s all over too soon as the opening credits sequence plays and the movie begins the story for the series fifth installment. The IMF is in trouble, with CIA chief Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has Brandt in front of a congressional hearing, and he’s demanding that the IMF be disbanded due to their penchant at causing mayhem while saving the world in unorthodox ways. Brandt is ordered to bring the crew all in. Luther resigns, Benji becomes an analyst sneaking videogame playing in between his assignments, and Ethan, in typical fashion, he gone off on his own, in pursuit of the shadowy Syndicate, an organization causing chaos around the globe through acts of terrorism and staged man made disasters. Ethan’s investigation causes him to cross paths with Solomon Lane (a menacing Sean Harris) and what may be a rogue MI6 agent in Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). The group traverses the globe in pursuit of this “anti-IMF”, as Benji calls them, hitting places like Casablanca, Vienna, and culminating in London. The plot is fairly well handled throughout, and McQuarrie keeps things nicely paced for the 131 minute run time, giving us well staged action pieces (the most notable taking place in a computer facility filled with water) and interspersing just enough humor (mostly from Pegg and Renner). It’s nothing that will necessarily have you leaving the theater wowed, but you will be entertained.

And that’s the one thing about Rogue Nation- it feels like we’ve seen this all before, but it’s okay, as it’s done well and entertains us for a bit over two hours. Cruise by now has his spy act down pat (he’s now played Hunt longer than some actors have played the most notable cinematic spy, James Bond) and he looks like he’s still having fun doing it. Pegg gets a bit more to do here, as Benji steps up to be more of a sidekick in the field, and is great in the role, providing just the right amount of comic relief. Renner does well as the “head” of the organization (his response to the congressional committee’s questions are done in an amusing manner), but Rhames seems underutilized here, with Luther even stating at one point, “I could have done this from home.” He serves a purpose, but he’s really dropped off from previous installments. Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) does a very nice job as British agent Faust, who may or may not be on Ethan’s side. Sean Harris (Prometheus, Deliver Us From Evil) makes for a menacing villain, the series best since Philip Seymour Hoffman’s villain in Mission: Impossible III. He truly seems like he’s a match for Hunt and the IMF, and never overacts in his scenes, even when his normally calm demeanor is visibly broken.  Baldwin is likewise great as CIA chief Hunley, proving himself to be a great foil to both Renner and Cruise.

In all, Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation is just what you’d expect from the franchise. It has thrilling stunts and action sequences, a likeable cast, and just the right amount of humor. It makes for a perfectly entertaining summer movie, with a plot that’s not too shallow and builds enough suspense to hold your interest for the whole movie without becoming too convoluted. Some things get wrapped up a little too neatly, but it all works in the end. It may not be the best of the series, but it definitely is a worthy entry, giving us the franchise’s most memorable villain in some time. It remains to be seen where this will fall in this year’s spy movie releases (we’ve already had Kingsman: The Secret Service, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Spectre are on their way to the theater in August and November, respectively), but it does hold its own as one the better summer releases. It’s another successful Mission for Cruise and company, and one well worth catching on the big screen.

 

8.5/10

 

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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