Release Date: July 31, 2015
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce, Bruce Geller
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Jingchu Zhang, Tom Hollander, Jens Hulten, Alec Baldwin, Mateo Rufino, Fernando Abadie, Alec Utgoff, Hermione Corfield, Nigel Barber, William Roberts, Patrick Poletti
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 131 minutes
Production Company: Alibaba Pictures Group, Bad Robot, Skydance Productions, TC Productions, Paramount Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
It is not too many franchises that make it to the fifth installment. Especially when each telling is as good as the last. Not all film franchises have achieved this (*cough* Transformers *cough*). I usually like for a director to stick around for sequels, but with Mission Impossible, the studio has done the exact opposite. It seems to work, so if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. This time around, director Christopher McQuarrie has taken charge and delivered another entertaining chapter in the Mission Impossible series. I hope they keep going further. Whether or not this latest take is your favorite, it deserves recognition for being able to stand on its own without drying out the material. Some may say that the Mission Impossible franchise is like wine. Each film gets better with age. I’m not ready to say that myself, seeing that I’m not absolutely in love with it, but at the very least, I’m satisfied and can’t wait for more.
Apart from some returning cast members, each Mission Impossible film has stood on its own without relying on previous plots to mark the story ahead. However, Rogue Nation directly continues from the last film Ghost Protocol, and this is what I appreciate most about it. What works is that you don’t even need to watch the previous film for the tie-in to be relevant. Rogue Nation depicts a smooth transition in terms of pacing that benefits you if you have seen Ghost Protocol, and with class tells the story of prior missions of the organization. It is all very cohesive.
As I mentioned, some cast members return in each film and others don’t. This may be considered a distraction in some cases, but with the type of franchise Mission Impossible is and that it involves a secret spy team, it makes sense that the characters switch in and out of the franchise. I must say I have a new favorite in William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). He’s peculiar, and his relationship with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is once again, fun to witness. He lives by the book but will cross the line if necessary. He’s not always a yes man and questions all decisions before acting, making sure they’re logical. The back-and-forth banter between Brandt and Hunt I can definitely get behind. Ving Rhames returns as Luther, and while it’s nice to see him back, there’s nothing memorable about his character and performance. I’m still not sold completely on Benji (Simon Pegg) as a field agent. He brings great comedy to the mix, but at times I feel the focus should be on not dying instead of making jokes.
Speaking of jokes, Rogue Nation is much funnier than I ever imagined it would be. I would honestly like more stakes than jokes though, and that is one of my issues with the film. While I enjoyed Rogue Nation whole-heartedly, it was a slight step down from its predecessors. So the first film was the start, the second dealt with a chemical virus, the third an ambiguous device left to wonder, and the fourth a nuclear instrument. This time around, we’re chasing one guy that seems to pose no threat other than hurting people with his raspy voice. He looks the role, but doesn’t do anything for me that I haven’t seen before. Plus, this secret organization The Syndicate seems as easy to infiltrate as the drive-thru at your local fast food joint. Countless times one character betrays another but is easily welcomed back into the fold, no questions asked. For a dark secret organization that appears to be lethal if wronged, it seems that they have a soft heart, which contradicts the very plot of the movie. The viewer is supposed to be scared of this rogue organization, feeling that not only if they fail will they die, their entire family and anyone they ever knew will also be hurt. I didn’t feel this way in the least bit.
Another misfire is the action. While a majority of it is beyond fantastic, the main action scene is shown too early in the film to hold any necessary weight. It’s just a stunt to sell movie tickets, and while enjoyable, it doesn’t pack the punch the trailers promise. I’m speaking of Tom Cruise actually hanging on the side of an airplane. Other elements of action are some of the best I’ve seen. There’s a motorcycle chase down narrow roads that made me jump in my seat. This is what I come to the theater to see. Unfortunately, this mastery is watered down only a few moments later when a car does multiple flips on the ground and through the air, yet no blood is spilled or bones broken. I’m not buying it. No one else will.
As far as the plot is concerned, it’s a serviceable one that may still need some cleaning up. It dragged for a bit—the movie did not end when it should’ve, but still ended well on a positive note. I wanted more from it and felt like there were opportunities wasted. It just didn’t seem that grand. It’s not a good thing if I imagine what would happen if the good guys fail, and nothing moves me closer to terror. I should have been on the edge of my seat nearly cheering for success. Instead I was cheering for the credits to start rolling.
If I were to rank Rogue Nation among the rest of the films in the Mission Impossible series, it would come in at number four. You could argue that each film is of better quality than the last, but this time, they’ve taken a step back. That’s not to say the film is bad, because it’s not. It just missed opportunities that the other films took advantage of.
I look forward to more sequels, and with the way this universe is built, we are potentially going to see these films for a while. There will always be evil in the world that the IMF will need to destroy, and if so, the writers just need to make the villain as good as the hero.