After watching Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I’ve got to admit it, but I am well and truly dying for the day when Ethan Hunt finally gets asked the customary question; “This is your mission, should you choose to accept it…” only to decline the offer, and send audiences reeling. Hold up, hold up. Hear me out. This is not to say that I think the film is so bad that turning down the mission and causing it to end up a five-minute movie would be better, that is far from the truth. It’s a fantastic film that blends the best of the espionage and action genres, all without ever taking itself far too seriously. It’s just that out of five assorted instalments, five different directors, and five separate ‘impossible’ missions, there’s never once been a time that Hunt has turned around, stuck it to the powers that be, and been forced to participate anyway. That’s the kind of interesting and fresh plot that a series needs five or six features in. There is after all, only so many times an audiences will accept the stale scenario in which a bad guy (or corporation) appears, wreaks a little havoc, kills a few people, all before the IMF band together to save society whilst facing the threat of being disavowed. Bring in as many new ‘hanging off a plane’ action sequences as you like, but nothing speaks awesome quite like a storyline we haven’t seen before.
This time round is no different sadly, picking up where Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) left off, with Ethan hunting (no pun intended) down the enigmatic Syndicate, a mysterious conglomerate labelled the ‘anti-IMF’. CIA Chief Hunley (Alec Baldwin) all the while is working in the background to convince the Senate to disband the IMF for good, believing Hunt to be the perennial boy who cried wolf. Stranded after Hunley succeeds and events go sour in London, Hunt calls in the good old team of Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames), and Brandt (Jeremy Renner), to take down Soloman Lane (Sea Harris), the trench-coat wearing cliché of a British villain, who is fronting the group of renegade rogue agents that are unleashing their own brand of deadly attacks around the world.
Thrown in the mix for good measure (and let’s be honest - gender balancing) is Rebecca Ferguson’s mystery maiden Ilsa Faust, a femme fatale that is step-for-step Cruise’s equal, choking men with her thighs, and hiding her allegiances so well that I’m still not sure I know where she stands even after having finished the film. From Austria to Morocco to London (that sounds like the start of a very bad Pitbull song there…) the film plays out as a three-part action centric piece, with each new country signifying a fight is sure to be looming somewhere on the horizon. The concept works wonders though, bringing the series back to the heyday of classic ‘edge-of-your-seat blockbusters’, where a thriller is a thriller and you don’t really need to ponder every detail fastidiously. For all the annoyance at the overused plot, the one thing it does right above all is provide you exactly what you paid for. Action, thrills, and intrigue abound.
With a raft of spy films either due out or already released this year (Spy, Spectre and The Man from UNCLE to name a few), predictions on Rogue Nation being among the best of the bunch were low. And whilst it doesn’t quite come off as the high-piece of the series, it does bring the certain charm and ‘je ne sais quoi’ we fans have become accustomed too. The action sequences are slick and aesthetically pleasing, weaving as seamlessly between the car and motor-cycle chases, as the piece does between its humour and drama. Helping it on its way are Pegg and Renner, who continue to prove the smartest move the franchise has made since its introduction almost twenty years ago. The duo fire out one-liners with startling precision, never once letting any of them miss their mark. Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments though is the fact that there is no classic ‘jump and hang’ move from Cruise or co. with us having to accept a meagre rope drop in its place. Well, that and the fact that the plane sequence which opens the film doesn’t even come close to topping the building climb in part four. For most of those ten minutes they could just have used green-screen to the same effect. Ultimately, however, the dive sequence featuring amidst act two makes up for them both a-plenty, the crucial key to balancing the film out.
Amidst the conflict and conspiracy are timely nods to the distinguished British pieces considered the four-fathers of the spy-genre, both Bond and Sherlock Holmes. Many of the fights take place in London (cue phone-boxes and double decker buses), and between the product placement of all the BMW’s you even get a glimpse of a silver Aston Martin if you’re paying close enough attention. Best of all though is Rogue Nation’s nod to Daniel Craig’s Quantum of Solace Austrian Opera scene, this time round filled with less talking, more fighting, and a envisioned storyboarded so beautiful, even Hitchcock would be proud of it. The Holmes-ian ties in are just as good, but to recount them here would be to spoil all the fun.
Christopher McQuarrie, who has taken the reins from Brad Bird, proves he’s not just a one trick pony here, deserving more than the accolades he normally receives purely for his writing abilities. Sensible, structured, and with just enough fun to tide you over, his take on the Mission: Impossible series is a favourable one. The movie never lags, and the tension never drops, something hard to accomplish in cinema nowadays, and he even manages to give the franchise a fresh start by the end, lining us up for a sequel we actually wouldn’t mind seeing. Yes, even if Hunt once again accepts the ‘mission’. I’ll have to refute it if anyone asks though, because we all know “I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation without the permission of the secretary…”
Rating: 3.5 Polygraphs out of 5
Film and TV Reviews
Film and television reviews of everything from independent movies to Disney and superhero flicks.
All video and photo content used on this site is sourced and all credit must go to the original owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Copyright © 2019. CINEMATICISM.
All Rights Reserved.
Owned by Kirby Spencer.