Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) Review

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise; Simon Pegg; Rebecca Ferguson; Jeremy Renner; Ving Rhames; Sean Harris.
Plot: Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

It’s Summer blockbuster season which can mean only one thing… Tom Cruise is back. For 2015, so is Mission: Impossible, this time in the shape and form of Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation, the fifth installment in the franchise’s 19 year history.

Walking into the cinema this past weekend, I had serious reservations about MI5 simply because it’s a Christopher McQuarrie movie. The writer-director of this year’s Mission: Impossible was the man behind 2012’s awful action-movie adaptation Jack Reacher, also starring Tom Cruise. The 2012 movie had an awful tone, a plot that was too simple and lacking all character investment, and most importantly it was void of excitement. Rogue Nation, however, was the exact opposite of that. I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by Rogue Nation because MI5 was a fantastic spy-action movie.

I’ve always been a fan of the Mission: Impossible franchise because of how it offers something never before seen in each and every installment, something I feel is a key concept of the action movie genre that producers often seem to forget about when developing different franchises and one-offs for the Summer market. With each picture being led by a different director, we’re also guaranteed fresh and different approaches to the now iconic Ethan Hunt character and his Impossible Mission Force (IMF); and McQuarrie certainly stood his own against the super talents of Brad Bird and JJ Abrams in this regard. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation was exciting, demanded real investment from the audience regarding our usual heroes and even the newly introduced characters (something other action franchises could certainly learn from), and seemingly accelerated from the moment it began to produce not only a feast for the eyes but a solid story filled with the sorts of ups and downs you’d usually find in a fight scene. Sure, it was full of pomp and circumstance but it happily embraced this with Alec Baldwin’s character Alan Humley even going as far as to call the IMF out on it in a meeting to shut the agency down. To say that it was super realistic would be a stretch too, but this is Mission: Impossible not Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest assets MI5 had at its disposal was its great cast. Obviously Tom Cruise was, well… Tom Cruise. But, that’s not to say that he didn’t bring it. The actor seemed far more engaged than he has in a number of recent ventures, something that’s been seen as significant given the brutal portrayal of his public persona in HBO’s “Going Clear” Scientology documentary. Beyond him there were useful performances from Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin and, of course, Ving Rhames. Simon Pegg was, perhaps, a stand out for his larger role in this movie, too. The usually comedic actor was used as more than comic relief and really pushed home a lot of the risk involved for Hunt in this movie, only with a more brisk and hard jawed take than in previous pictures, something I wasn’t sure Pegg had in him until I saw this movie. However, the real star of the show was undoubtedly Rebecca Ferguson who played double agent Ilsa Faust of British Intelligence.

Ferguson was, in my opinion at least, a revelation. She was introduced to the film as if the typical action movie female ready to ‘look sexy’ (as seems to be the way in Hollywood), and within seconds had killed numerous hired body guards with nothing more than her hands and feet. Instantly the character was presented as capable of brutality above and beyond that of even the beloved Ethan Hunt, and was displayed excellently by Ferguson who not only pulled these moments off with real confidence and gusto, but also sank back into herself when her character was caught in moments of contemplation, fear or regret. The character was one of the more riveting parts of the movie with a story arc worth investing in to support that, and Rebecca Ferguson delivered, making for more than the usually one dimensional action hero story arc we’ve become accustomed to.

On the contrary to Ferguson’s impressive performance, Sean Harris really failed to captivate as the movie’s villainous Solomon Lane, an ex British Intelligence agent gone rogue. The problem here was that Harris was trying to go for the same sort of quiet psychopathic villain as has become popular in recent years (Bardem in Skyfall, D’Onofrio in Netflix’s Daredevil), a character that I feel is nearly impossible to play scary enough to be believable. Harris failed to be scary enough here, and while it wasn’t necessarily of huge detriment to the movie, this resulted in his character not seeming worthy of taking down the IMF, Ethan Hunt, or even any of the secondary characters which was, in retrospect, worth a negative note but was easily set to the back of the mind while engaged with the story during the viewing experience.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is without a doubt one of the better action movies released this year and stands right beside rest of the franchise as a good representation of a spy-action movie. Tom Cruise doesn’t miss a step and Rebecca Ferguson steals the show in a film that has enough laughs, explosions, fighting, and impossible missions to not only be worth your money going to see at the cinema, but also the money spent purchasing the DVD/BR to watch this one over and over again.

Endlessly fun, Mission: Impossible is…

Score: 17/24

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