Mission: Impossible – ROgue Nation

by | Sep 24, 2015 | 0 comments

The New Entry Keeps Building Up a Franchise While Adding An Artistic Tone

 

It’s hard to make a good spy movie nowadays. It feels as though everything has practically been done already. With a franchise like Mission Impossible, which tries to top itself with every successive film, the audience’s expectation bar is set even higher. However, what defines a regular moviemaker from an artist is that an artist always strives to go beyond. In that sense Christopher McQuarrie might have taken the first step to be considered an “auteuristic” director; of course we can’t really define a director based on only one film, but his most recent outing: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation certainly projects high hopes for his future.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation tries to raise the stakes like no other M.I. film has done before. That’s why the film starts with the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) being not only hunted down by a terrorist nation known as ‘The Syndicate,” but also being shut-down by its own government after the many protests of the handling of missions from the CIA chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). The IMF’s top agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) goes rogue after IMF is shutdown because of the CIA’s unwillingness to believe the existence of “The Syndicate.” Ethan Hunt must go solo with the help of a few of disavowed IMF members including Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther (Ving Rhames) to show the world the threat they keep denying.  

But people go to M.I. movies in order to see extreme missions that are well…. impossible. The last outing had Ethan Hunt climb the tallest tower in the world. To top that (pun intended) there are two stunning scenes in Rogue Nation; one near the beginning of the film has Hunt clinging to a plane’s wing as it takes off (a stunt that Tom Cruise pulled off on his own); and the other has Hunt hold his breath under water for three whole minutes to change a memory stick in an enormous cooling cylinder with an incredibly strong current. So this film does its job and tops the other great M.I. stunts seen in M.I. 3 and M.I. Ghost Protocol. But that’s not what surprised me.

What really surprised me was the incredible balance that director McQuarrie was able to achieve. He held off the action sequences long enough so that they didn’t burn out quickly, something that other action films pour in excess and make us lose interest and admiration in the stunts and choreography. The comedy also was toned down a bit from the last film. Simon Pegg’s comic relief is more accurate due to less quantity and more quality. I certainly was fearing that the franchise and their comedic take might have taken a wrong turn and move towards the cheesy Fast and Furious style, but McQuarrie was able to stabilize that. The director also was able to make the film smart. What I mean by that is that the decisions taken by the agents aren’t the predictable sort you get in your typical movies; the characters actually looked as though they were highly trained and their quick thinking and innovation catch the audience off-guard and it certainly surprises us and reminds us of why we enjoy spy movies in the first place. Finally there was a round of hommages that McQuarrie features throughout his film. Ranging from a thrilling opera sequence similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, to a play with names and character arcs paying tribute to Casablanca in very subtle ways.

As for acting Tom Cruise more than holds his own. His intense performance shows us that he is truly an eternal movie star who still has it in him to keep up with us. Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are both solid as well, but the real revelation here was Rebecca Ferguson. Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilsa Faust whose allegiance the characters and audience are always doubting (is she a double agent? Triple agent?) It’s hard to act your character acting under pressure, and Ferguson makes it look so easy! Not only that, but she manages to keep you guessing where her loyalties truly lie until McQuarrie finally deems it opportune to let you know. Such an actor is any director’s dream. I also enjoyed how she wasn’t at all used as a romantic interest at any point; she was equally as important and significant as Ethan or Benji’s characters, something that is sadly not common with female roles.

So in the end not only are there various auteur brush-strokes throughout this movie, but you also see McQuarrie raise a franchise’s already high level and we enjoy a set of incredibly great performances. Indeed it is an extremely enjoyable film. It’s just a bit sad (or not) that you stop believing that any impossible missions exist.    

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 81% 81%

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What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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