Congratulations Christopher McQuarrie. Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird each had their shot, but with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation you are officially the director of the best installment in the “Mission: Impossible” series to date. That’s not so say number five is without imperfections (it still has its share of flaky, over-the-top cheesiness sprinkled throughout), but it plays out fresher and connects better than its predecessors.
It’s also clear his familiarity with Tom Cruise (they worked together in one capacity or another on “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Jack Reacher” and “Valkyrie”) is an asset and McQuarrie gets right to work showing this by delivering a money shot right at the beginning in the shape of Ethan Hunt (Cruise, “Oblivion”) hanging off the outside of a plane during take-off. McQuarrie leaves no doubt it’s his star doing the stunt and that we’re in for a crazy ride by drawing the camera in for a close-up on Cruise’s face looking, for all intents and purposes, as if he is genuinely taking the full g-force impact of a plane ascension.
Hunt’s reason for his death defying leap is nothing compared to what he and his IMF team soon find themselves up against. The Syndicate, as they’re known — a criminal organization of rogue agents and trained killers — are intent on eliminating the IMF leaving the path clear for their world unsettling plots. Clouding Hunt’s ability to react to the threat is CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin, “Still Alice”) who is working the political channels to have the IMF disbanded (again). With friend being foe, foe being friend and any combination thereof, Hunt has no choice but to take the team off grid in order to complete one last impossible mission — should they choose to accept it . . .
Cue country hopping — Morocco, Austria, England, United States — as Hunt searches out The Syndicate who he is convinced is planning to assassinate the Austrian Prime Minister. There are plenty of sequences to keep the audience gripped to their seats as Hunt, with the returning help of Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, “The World’s End”), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, “Piranha 3DD”) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), get into explosive shootouts, car/motorcycle chases and whirlpools.
There is also the gorgeous Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, “Hercules”) to thank for getting Ethan out of many Syndicate-related scrapes during the hunt. Ilsa is a mysterious femme fatale figure who is more than a match for him; she can break people’s necks with her thighs and has no problems doing so. Ethan has some tricks of his own up his sleeve though, a most impressive one (other than hanging onto a plane 5000 feet in the sky or holding his breath for an inordinate amount of time) is his being able to shimmy upside down up a pole he’s hand-cuffed to, in order to escape (you have to see it to appreciate it).
McQuarrie, however, also understands that in order for an action scene to work it doesn’t have to be played out at top speed. One such sequence takes place at the opera and it unfolds slowly enough to leave the audience waiting on tenterhooks while the tension builds to a crescendo. And he’s certainly not afraid to throw some humor into the mix as this same scene highlights the size difference between Ethan and a giant thug from The Syndicate and in others Benji delivers all the well-timed comic relief Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation needs.
There is little allowance for complacency though. Time after time McQuarrie (who is also credited with writing the screenplay) toys with emotions taking Ethan too close to death for comfort and, although we know he will most certainly survive, it’s not always through his own doing. Ethan Hunt, unlike say John McClane (as per his last outing in “A Good Day to Die Hard”), is not superhuman after all. His “realism” is carried over from “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and expanded upon even though other aspects of the film have gone the way of “far-fetched.”
But overall, that’s okay. McQuarrie has found and tapped into the right mixture of providing plenty of smart espionage twists, maguffins and dead-ends to accompany the ridiculously dizzying action of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. And with Tom Cruise refusing to put the brakes on the abuse his 53 year-old body can go through, this happy medium can surely be used for the next IMF adventure in which they are once again disbanded by the government and ruthlessly hunted.
July 30, 2015 @ 8:46 pm Trudy
Say what you want about Scientology but whatever its teaching Tom Cruise is working. The man is a bonafide action movie star.
July 31, 2015 @ 12:17 pm swim_trunks
Just leave the ‘religious’ baggage on the table. The man was acting circles around his peers before he got heavily involved with Scientology. He’s one of the best to have never won an Oscar.
July 31, 2015 @ 2:43 pm topular
They supply him thetan sacrifices.
July 31, 2015 @ 5:04 pm theblackplane
Stop the nonsense. Who gives a damn whether he believes in an alien overlord named Xenu or is a practitioner of some pagan movement like Wicca. The man has a talent and so long as he isn’t diddling kids he should be left to pray to whatever\whomever he wants without real or implied persecution.
July 30, 2015 @ 8:48 pm THE VIBE
Looking forward to watching this over the weekend.
July 30, 2015 @ 9:11 pm John
I’ve enjoyed the previous films in the series so I’ll definitely be getting to see this. Great review,
July 30, 2015 @ 9:35 pm capecodcod
This was a homerun in every sense of the word. The plot was not obvious, the action was INTENSE, the laughs were opportune, there was no love story to sidetrack the mission and Cruise was in god-mode. Too bad Spectre will be compared to this–personally I don’t think it has a chance to top it.
July 31, 2015 @ 12:08 am Salival
I’ll take Bond over Hunt all day every day.
July 30, 2015 @ 9:40 pm Gypsum
Good movie. The action was slick but the spy thrills aspect of it was never overshadowed.
July 30, 2015 @ 10:27 pm logitech
All the early reviews in are positive. I’m so excited to see it I’m finding it hard to contain myself!
July 30, 2015 @ 10:53 pm bamboogled
Bold move starting the movie with the big airplane scene…
July 31, 2015 @ 12:12 am Salival
Taking a page from the 007 notebook. Almost every Bond movie starts the tempo off with a big action sequence.
July 31, 2015 @ 3:37 am Hicksville
My second favorite action movie of the year (1st honors to Mad Max).
July 31, 2015 @ 9:03 am Angel
I prefer the very first Mission Impossible but still thought this was super entertaining.
July 31, 2015 @ 10:22 am choicegrade
Good movie; fast and fun. Standout was the opera scene like the church scene stand out in Kingsmen.
July 31, 2015 @ 12:46 pm Donald
In order of effectiveness.
1 Ghost Protocol
2 Rogue Nation
July 31, 2015 @ 2:50 pm crazylarry
Great IMAX experience.
July 31, 2015 @ 7:44 pm DelaneyCollins
Rogue Nation is how the summer blockbuster is supposed to look and act. It gripped me right from the beginning and never let go.
July 31, 2015 @ 11:06 pm gnomeblown
It’s the most pure adrenaline fun I’ve had in a theater all year and I’ll watch the next 20 installments if they can promise as good a time as this.
August 1, 2015 @ 5:23 am OhioInOkra
Keep ’em eating crow Tom.
August 1, 2015 @ 3:20 pm unfrown
Twas everything I wanted to be: fast, exciting, interesting, thrilling, complex, handsome.