Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review

Maybe it wasn’t impossible, but in 2011 it seemed highly likely that the aging Tom Cruise and the “Mission: Impossible” series could keep going after three films spanning 10 years (and all earning merely “decent” marks). Then “Ghost Protocol” hit theaters and made doubters bite their tongues. That being the case, “Rogue Nation” keeps those teeth firmly clamped down.

Despite losing the “Ghost Protocol” screenwriters as well as director Brad Bird, “Rogue Nation” doesn’t slip under the watch of Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”) who directed Cruise in 2012’s franchise-starting action thriller “Jack Reacher” and wrote his 2014 star vehicle “Edge of Tomorrow.” Needless to say, their marriage is working.

McQuarrie’s screenplay elevates the thriller and espionage elements of the franchise. The weakest aspect of “Ghost Protocol” was its plot, but “Rogue Nation” keeps the mystery tight and its terrorism-focused conflict is less outrageous than some past “M:I” evil schemes.

In the fifth installment, the IMF finds itself disbanded by an angry CIA honcho (Alec Baldwin) just as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) has uncovered the existence of the Syndicate, a global network of disavowed, missing and presumed dead secret service agents conducting widespread terrorism. Resourceless and with the CIA breathing down their necks, Hunt must secretly coordinate with Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to find the man behind the Syndicate and stop them.

Along the way, Hunt comes across a former British Intelligence agent in deep cover with the Syndicate named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who is in every way his equal yet whose allegiances make their relationship complicated. Ferguson explodes into Hollywood in this role as a young but mature-looking field agent with acrobatic takedown moves like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow from the Marvel film universe. Ferguson really shares the spotlight with Cruise instead of playing his arm candy.

Whereas “Ghost Protocol” was more about suspense and innovative action (the Burj Khalifa sequence is still among the best of the decade), but “Rogue Nation” takes a more visceral approach. Aside from the “James Bond”-like opening sequence that sees Cruise holding on to an airplane door as it takes off, the stunt work isn’t larger- than-life so much as tight, gritty and explosive. Actually, “Rogue Nation” shares a lot of DNA with the modern “Bond” films in terms of action and globe-trotting. Robert Elswit’s cinematography in this film and “Ghost Protocol” have really helped the franchise up the visual ante in a way that has dramatically increased its esteem. There are still lots of formulaic tendencies and things that keep the franchise light, but it’s more fun than it’s ever been.

So after 10 years of languishing, the “Mission: Impossible” franchise has earned its way into the echelon of the best active action film franchises, and it better hurry before its 53-year-old action star decides to “take it easy for awhile.”

Initially published January 6, 2016.

4/5 Stars

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment