The Mission Impossible films are a bit of an anomaly in our modern day age of cookie cutter blockbusters. In what is the fifth (!) film in an almost 20-year-old franchise, Tom Cruise and company continue to deliver original yet familiar, fun action films.
Unlike Marvel, where every film (minus a few) feels like they are directed by a studio instead of a filmmaker, Paramount has done a tremendous job at keeping the MI franchise truly episodic, with just the right amount of elements tying it all together. It truly feels like they give each director the freedom to completely make it their own. This trend continues with Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, which feels completely different than Brad Bird’s MI: Ghost Protocol, J.J. Abrams’ MI3, John Woo’s MI2, and Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible.
After the events of Ghost Protocol, the Impossible Mission Force is shut down by the U.S. government and CIA head Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), leaving Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) on his own to take down the newly discovered Syndicate, an international rogue nation hell bent on destroying the IMF.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is another impressive entry in the series, with fantastic set-pieces, great performances and a silly, but fun self-aware story. Opening with a scene where Hunt is latched onto the side of a cargo plane as it takes off (yes, Cruise actually did that) McQuarrie gives audiences exactly what they want right away, and never slows down from there.
As mentioned previously, the most interesting aspect of the Mission Impossible franchise is that each director makes their film feel like their own. McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation has a Jack Reacher feel, with solid dialogue and visceral action that doesn’t feel as flashy as Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, it’s just nice to see a different take. Switching from incredibly silly situation and goofy self-aware (but fun!) dialogue to incredibly tense action sequences can be a tricky thing, but McQuarrie has no problems making the audience laugh one minute to holding their breath hoping that Ethan makes it out unscathed the next. McQuarrie handles the set-pieces in his own unique style, with each one standing out on their own, whether it’s the weirdly graceful operatic fight scene, a score-less underwater heist or a motorcycle chase that is far-superior to the one in MI:2.
While the set-pieces are once again the reason you should see this film, the performances and team aspect of Rogue Nation are extremely solid, lending themselves to the impressiveness of the aforementioned action scenes. Cruise is once again fantastic as Ethan Hunt, completely owning the role. There’s not much to say about him at this point other than he is no doubt one of the best action stars of our time. Simon Pegg also returns as Benji, in what seems like a larger role than in Ghost Protocol, and he handles it like a veteran of the franchise providing not only comedic relief, but as a valuable member in numerous action sequences. Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames also return and while they are perfectly fine, they aren’t given much to do until the final act. Rebecca Ferguson is a standout as Ilsa Faust, a member of the syndicate who may not be who she seems. She instantly fits in with Cruise and the cast and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her pop-up in more films after this breakout role. Baldwin also has a small role as a CIA head, in which he plays his usually abrasive but comical self and Sean Harris is solid as our creepy, turtleneck wearing leader of the syndicate.
Granted, it may not be as polished as Bird’s Ghost Protocol or even Abrams’ MI3, McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation stands on it’s own as another exhilarating and fun entry in the Mission Impossible franchise. With great set-pieces and a fantastic cast, there’s nothing here that would suggest you should not see this movie. If anything, you’ve already waited too long. Your mission, If you choose to accept it, is to see this movie. Sorry, that was bad. Just go see this, you’ll have a blast.