Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to overlook the fact that this series would feature dramatically different endings if their missions were, in fact, impossible and instead just sit back and enjoy.
I highly recommend you choose to accept the mission.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is two hours of almost non-stop action, moving at a breakneck pace as the IMF’s (Impossible Missions Force) most formidable agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to once again pull the world’s bacon out of the frying pan.
Skeptical? As a frame of reference, the trailer clip of Hunt hanging off the side of an in-flight airplane occurs within the FIRST FIVE MINUTES. You know from the outset they’re not messing around.
The latest installment in the series promises the ‘most impossible mission yet,’ pitting Hunt and his team against the Syndicate – a highly skilled international organization of rogue agents committed to acts of terrorism and destroying the IMF. The Syndicate is so skilled at creating mayhem undetected, no one believes it to be real. Rather, the IMF is seen to be more destructive than effective by the U.S. government, with some openly suggesting that luck plays a predominant role in any success the IMF has at all (which, pointedly enough, is the case throughout much of the film).
So, when agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is unable to successfully defend the IMF’s worth, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has it shut down with Hunt ordered to turn himself in for debriefing. Naturally, Hunt has other ideas.
On the run from the CIA and racing against time, Hunt’s only lead to defeat the Syndicate appears to be the mysterious Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – a British special agent with dubious intentions and allegiances. While Faust gains some level of Hunt’s trust in a life-or-death first encounter, a subsequent run-in in Austria causes doubt among Hunt’s team. Aided by Brandt, Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames), Hunt must work together with Faust to uncover the Syndicate and land one step ahead of the elusive terrorist group.
Traversing the globe from the U.S. to northern Africa, Austria, the U.K., and more, Rogue Nation is the epitome of an action thriller gone right – exotic locations, extreme stunts, and a tight enough script so as not to draw attention away from the spectacle.
One of the greatest triumphs of the film and series aside from the action sequences, most of which Cruise completed himself at the age of 52 (including actually being strapped to the side of the airplane), is the portrayal of imperfect agents. As mentioned, the film actively draws attention to the idea that luck is crucial to the success of these missions. On top of this, the team exhibits real vulnerability on an individual level throughout the film that keeps the audience guessing. Might this actually be the first time they fail?
Pegg, Rhames, and Renner all deliver performances befitting their well-established characters, but there’s something about Cruise in action that you just can’t get enough of. Ferguson does well to string together an even performance opposite of Cruise, with a natural reservation that aptly fits the character. There was nothing bad per se about baddie Sean Harris’ performance, yet it was difficult to take him seriously in the role. Which, admittedly, is a slight detractor.
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (who has previously written other well-received Cruise films Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher, and Valkyrie), Rogue Nation offers a pleasant mixture of adrenaline and lighthearted transitions without over thinking itself or becoming too pithy. McQuarrie takes full advantage of interesting shot angles and lighting to deliver the most effective reveals, adding to the heightened tension even when you think you know what’s going to happen.
With a total of five films now in the series, Rogue Nation probably falls closest to the original Mission: Impossible in terms of the effect character twists have on plot development. In any event, make sure you strap in.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner
US Release: July 31, 2015, Alibaba Pictures Group, Bad Robot, Skydance Productions, Paramount Pictures