PERSONALLY I found the first three Mission: Impossible films as just being OK. But then in 2011 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol came along and it was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed Ghost Protocol way more than I thought I would which gave me high hopes for the next MI film.
And these hopes are very very nearly met in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth installment of the MI franchise which has spanned almost 20 years.
Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt – the small but skilful secret agent who works for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). Similar to the later films in the Fast and Furious franchise, Rogue Nation brings back characters from the previous flicks to help out the leading man. Simon Pegg, Jeremey Renner and Ving Rhames all return to their respective roles as Benji Dunn, William Brandt and Luther Stickell.
In Rogue Nation, Hunt attempts to stop an evil version of the IMF – the Syndicate – from wreaking international havoc. Meanwhile the CIA director Alan Hunley (played by Alec Baldwin) has the IMF shut down which means that Hunt and his team must work in the shadows to prevent global catastrophe.
Rogue Nation begins with Tom Cruise further cementing his status as Hollywood’s biggest nutter as he clings to the side of a plane taking off on a runway in a breath-taking scene. Describing Cruise as a ‘daredevil’ whenever he plays Ethan Hunt would be something of an understatement as ‘mad bastard’ probably suits him much better. Still, watching Cruise perform death defying stunts is highly entertaining and his latest in the opening scene is jaw-dropping.
After such an insane set piece the film could have easily blew its load and not produced anything to match the incredible opening action. But credit must be given to director Chris McQuarrie as he ensures that Rogue Nation continues to deliver pulse-pounding moments throughout the film.
Notable scenes include Hunt attempting to foil an assassination on an Austrian chancellor at an opera house in Vienna. Instead a typical blitz of action, this scene is masterfully paced to build up tension as Hunt tries to fight off a number of hitmen against a backdrop of classical music.
Another great scene takes place underwater and sees Hunt have to swim around a chamber while holding his breath for 3 minutes in order to allow Benji to pass through a security system. When something goes wrong for Hunt in this tense scene, you may let out a little gasp as McQuarrie manages to create a moment where you are genuinely worried about the typically always-invincible leading man – which is a rare feat in a modern Hollywood blockbuster.
Even though Rogue Nation is action packed, it doesn’t rely on impressive set pieces to capture its audience as the performances from its stars are equally as entertaining. As always, Cruise fully commits to the role and while he never really has to display any world class acting ability, his onscreen magnetism makes him completely enjoyable to watch.
Pegg almost steals the show as the loveable techie Benji, who this time around has more to do than in previous MI films. Not only does Benji provide most of the film’s comic relief, but he also plays key parts in many of the action scenes as he partners Hunt on his dangerous escapades.
While Pegg impresses in his improved role, it’s franchise newcomer Rebecca Ferguson who is the stand out of the film playing the mysterious deadly diva Ilsa Faust. With her dazzling martial arts skills and sense of sophistication, Ferguson’s Faust is a femme fatal who proves to be a welcome match for Cruise’s Hunt. You never really know what her intentions are which is what makes her such an intriguing character. Oh yeah and she’s beautiful as well.
However, after being a highly entertaining film for the first two acts, the third act is somewhat of an anti-climax. The action throughout most of the film is thoroughly gripping but the climatic action sequence falls flat as it isn’t quite the spectacle you would have expected.
At 131 minutes long, Rogue Nation could have perhaps have done with 10 -20 minutes being shaved off in order to help the end pack more of a punch.
Also the head of the Syndicate and the film’s villain, Solomon Lane, is a bit of a disappointing character as when he is first introduced he promises to be a menacing enemy for Hunt. Unfortunately due to a lack of screen time he never really fulfils his potential of being a particularly memorable villain. Still, Sean Harris manages to play Lane as a very sinister individual who gives you the creeps whenever he’s onscreen.
Despite a weak ending and a couple of minor flaws, Rogue Nation is a hugely enjoyable film which has you enthralled for most of its entirety. It’s a standalone film which means that you don’t need to have seen any of the other Mission Impossibles to understand what’s going on. The latest addition to the franchise will almost certainly pave the way for a Mission Impossible 6, and after the quality of Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, I personally can’t wait. Rogue Nation scores a: