Tom Cruise has dived headfirst back into successful waters with the fifth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise rather dramatically titled ‘Rogue Nation’. Mission Impossible is a peculiar franchise. Aside from the anomalous and terrible Mission Impossible II, the action/heist franchise has improved with every installment. It has been a long journey to find itself but found itself it has.
‘Rogue Nation’ sees Ethan Hunt aptly hunt a rogue organisation known as ‘The Syndicate’. In doing so, Hunt is captured by The Syndicate but surprising freed by Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust; a rogue member of an already rogue terrorist group. Isla explains that ‘The Syndicate’ is not only targeting Ethan Hunt but also the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
All in all Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is more of the same. It is Tom Cruise doing outrageous stunts, wooing another in a long line of beautiful women and being backed up by a competent and funny supporting cast. There’s nothing wrong with doing what’s been done before because audiences clearly aren’t tired of it. In fact, Rogue Nation is the best installment of the franchise. It manages to top the globetrotting Ghost Protocol with style, extravagance and terrifically shot action.
The film is really fast in some moments and races out of the gate rapidly. There was a real worry that opening with the big marketed stunt – Tom Cruise strapped to a plane in flight – would render the rest of the film numb. However, the film goes on to feature one more aquatic sequence shot without rampant music that cranks the tension up to 11. It helps that Tom Cruise is a raging maniac who has no regard for his own safety because you could perceivably throw the guy into deep space absent of a suit and he’ll find a way to run on the black matter and stretch his gleaming pearly whites across the night sky.
Simon Pegg is not wasted in the film. I feared that Pegg would be demoted into a witty and bumbling British sidekick that the film would poke for a joke here and there. Very early in the film, Benji is given some impetus and character development that solidifies the foundation for Pegg to then make the jokes off of. Even the climax weighs heavily on Pegg’s Benji and it plays really well.
The standout of the entire film is Rebecca Ferguson. I doubt the franchise will bring the character back – Cruise goes through female costars like The Smoking Man does Morley’s – but she is the film’s breakout star nonetheless. Ferguson never compromises her beauty when dancing across action sequences drawing the attention with every frame. She’s awesome and radiant and firmly steals the show from Cruise. There is one particular scene where the camera slides with Ferguson’s movements in an Opera house that plays extremely well and no doubt puts Ferguson in every casting director’s notebook.
There is a sequence in the film where Alec Baldwin’s FBI Chief Alan Hunley talks about Hunt’s abilities and skills in warning to a powerful figure. The scene was so base and so resonating; it felt like the screen was vibrating with manliness. It was a terrific moment that connoted memories of the Babyuga speech in John Wick.
However, there are some problems with Rogue Nation. It’s all well and good to have exponential tension but if the narrative comes to a screeching halt to focus on characters Twilight staring at each other with dulled sound, the good work is undone. There is a real problem with pace in the film and editing out a misplaced 20 minutes would make the film flow more efficiently. The villain is also pretty standard. Because the film focuses so much on Hunt and his IMF team, it glosses over the rat faced British villain and the threat is never scary or foreboding.
Nonetheless, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a fun and serviceable installment in the adapted franchise. It is unabashedly more of the same swashbuckling, madcap and audacious daredevil bustle but it’s all done in good nature. The film is crafted proficiently and it plays adeptly.
Score – B+