Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris
Mission: Impossible is a franchise that seems to be never-ending and has achieved this by constantly reinventing itself, bringing in new directors who like to put their own spin on things. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is still the action-packed romp we have come expect from the Tom Cruise vehicle, yet unfortunately it lacks the directorial flair we have seen in previous films.
Set directly after the events of Brad Bird’s previous film Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation has Ethan Hunt (Cruise) on his most dangerous mission yet: stopping an international rogue organisation called The Syndicate from eradicating the IMF (Impossible Missions Force). Ethan, along with the help of his renegade IMF team, has to ensure that the highly skilled and dangerous Syndicate is taken down, while facing the constant threat of being dissolved by the CIA.
Desperate times, desperate measures.
Where Rogue Nation really excels is in its moments of full-frontal Cruise action: Tom hanging onto a plane during take-off, Tom taking out enemy agents during the opera, Tom holding his breath underwater for more than three minutes (he actually dies in this scene and is then brought back to life). This film is very much a love-fest for Tom Cruise, captured perfectly in the line, “Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny”, delivered brilliantly by Alec Baldwin’s head of the CIA Alan Hunley. It’s as cringeworthy as it is hilarious. Director Christopher McQuarrie, who previously worked with Tom on Jack Reacher, has made sure that each scene involving the action star is adrenaline-fuelled insanity, which is fantastic to watch.
But it has to be said that the film never goes beyond that. Each director has made their mark on the Mission: Impossible franchise: Brian De Palma’s film was a spy thriller; John Woo’s film, widely regarded to be the weakest in the series, was akin to a Honk Kong Kung fu flick; Mission: Impossible III was littered J.J. Abrams’ trademark lens flair; and then Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol was all about the gadgets. McQuarrie’s film feels almost director-less: there’s no discerning quality which makes Rogue Nation unique.
I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation without the permission of the Secretary.
Rogue Nation is backed up by a solid cast who deliver fine performances: Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames and Sean Harris are all perfectly serviceable. Yet Rebecca Ferguson is in a league of her own as the feisty and enigmatic Ilsa Faust. In a genre dominated by men, the Swedish actress is another fine example of this year’s trend of filmmakers putting badass women front and centre. Her scenes are among the most exciting in the whole film; she executes some pretty head-turning moves – literally. Simon Pegg continues to move the franchise along by adding some much-needed comedy into the mix, and giving him a more starring role is a very clever move.
The plot is also a major issue, mainly because it’s so hard to follow. One moment the CIA is frantically searching for Hunt, the next moment Hunt is swinging from the rafters, kicking and punching bad guys in Vienna’s Opera House. The film never really slows down, but perhaps this is a good thing. Once you stop to think, the film doesn’t really make much sense.
Join the IMF and see the world. On a screen. From a closet.
People’s motives are never really clear, especially when it comes to the head of the evil, secret organisation The Syndicate. What are The Syndicate’s objectives? Why is the CIA suddenly so interested in the IMF, an organisation which has been supposedly operating freely for years? Why would a man in his right mind jump onto an airplane mid take-off? Answer:
Tom Ethan Hunt is a madman.
Despite its flaws, Rogue Nation is ultimately an enjoyable summer blockbuster, and will go down nicely with a trough of popcorn and your favourite beverage of choice. But it’s the most lifeless Mission Impossible film so far. This is a shame, because directors like Abrams and Bird strived to keep the franchise relevant and interesting in an increasingly crowded sea of average Hollywood action blockbusters.