The Mission Impossible saga has turned into the Fast & Furious of the spy genre, and yes, I mean that as a compliment. As fans, when going into a Mission Impossible film, we now expect it to be bigger and badder than the previous installment in terms of the action and set pieces, but still stay true to what fans have come to love about the franchise. And just like this summer’s Furious 7, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was a fun, thrilling adventure which unfortunately failed to live up to its predecessor.
Rogue Nation follows Ethan Hunt (Cruise) as he hunts down the Syndicate, an anti-IMF organization which is dedicated to terrorist activities to “incite change” in the populous. To make matters worse, the actual IMF is being dissolved into the CIA, to answer for their reckless behavior of the past, so Hunt and his team must work undetected as they take on the Syndicate.
Rogue Nation ups the stakes and the set pieces in every way, but does not necessarily deliver and all around better experience than its predecessor, Ghost Protocol. It’s actually quite unfair to compare the two movies simply because of how near perfect Ghost Protocol was, but they are in the same franchise so the comparison is necessary. With that being said, boy oh boy did this movie deliver on the action.
Whether we’re talking about the scene where Cruise hangs off the side of a plane, or the underwater heist type scene, or the motor cycle chase scene, this film delivered the goods when we’re strictly talking about the action. It was thrilling, intense and breathtaking. Director Christopher McQuarrie and the team around him did a masterful job at capturing the action and making the audience feel immersed in the experience of it all. Even the hand-to-hand combat sequences were filmed with precision, where the camera was allowed to sit and capture the action instead of resulting to the shaky-cam technique which a lot of action films have been adopting as of late.
The surprising element of this film came in the form of comedy, and just how well it was handled and how much it hit. Laughs were rolling throughout the theater, so much so that you would think that this was a comedy. It had more laughs than numerous comedies of the year thus far, that’s for sure. Whether it came in the former of Renner’s character being a little smug and quippy toward Alec Baldwin’s CIA operative, or the banter between Cruise and Simon Pegg, the comedy hit hard and often.
With all of that being said, the breakout star of this film was Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust. Giving too much away about her character could lead to some spoilers, so all I’m going to say is that she is a legitimate action star… or at least she was in this film. It is not often that you get to share scenes with Tom Cruise, yet you end up stealing that scene. The action with her felt believable and real, yet her quieter moments were acted with subtlety and nuance. She is a star to watch for in the future.
With all of that being said, and all of those positives… This film was not perfect. Far from it in fact, and a lot of the flaws had to do with the plot itself and how it unraveled to reveal what it revealed. The villain of this film, Lane (played by Sean Harris), who was the leader of the Syndicate, started out as a seemingly interesting and complex villain, yet his motivations and aspirations seemed pretty simple-minded and weak when it was all said and done, which is unfortunate considering how well he was set up.
Add that to the fact that, through all of the enthralling action and set pieces that the film delivered on, as it came to a close, you just couldn’t help but wish that they made the obstacles in Cruise’s way actually seem like obstacles, and not just items on a checklist that he must overcome. What I mean by that is, through all of the mayhem and thrill of the action, we never truly felt like Cruise was in any real danger. And as the film drew to a close, it felt like they couldn’t decide on how everything should play out, so they just drew something up last minute to put a bow on the events of what took place and the motivations of those involved.
That is pretty vague, but I’m not trying to spoil anything. The action was still well captured and carried out during the conclusive last part of the film, but the execution of the story elements felt rushed and lazy. With a film that feels as fresh and smart as something like this, to have it end on such a lazy note might leave a bad taste in your mouth.
With that being said, I would still recommend this film, not only for the action but also the humor and comradery among the cast. This was a fast-paced, thrilling adventure that didn’t quite deliver on those thrills due to the disappointing ending.