MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION
Running Time: 132 mins.
Premise: When the IMF program is shuttered, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) goes rogue and on the lam again in an attempt to bring down The Syndicate, an anti-IMF that is recruiting former spies from around the world and wrecking international havoc.
Behind-the-Scenes: Cruise has produced all five M:I films, with a different director putting their personal stamp on each entry. This time around, Cruise enlisted his Jack Reacher director and his screenwriter of Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow (sorry - Live Die Repeat), Christopher McQuarrie (he also wrote Usual Suspects). The movie was originally set for release at Christmas, but Paramount moved it up to avoid the Star Wars juggernaut and the aftermath of Spectre.
The Good: This is a super strong, rock solid entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise, which shows no signs of aging and just seems to grow more confident with the formula each time out. McQuarrie's script is great - tightly focused, with some great one-liners and a real sense of intrigue. It holds the viewer's interest from beginning to end, something Ghost Protocol, for all its attributes, had trouble doing. Cruise is as good as he's ever been and shows a commitment to practical effects and stuntwork that is just astonishing. The marketing has been dominated by the scene where Cruise hangs outside an A400 taking off, and that's wholly impressive, but, refreshingly - it's the opening scene of the movie so no real spoiler. Cruise's Ethan Hunt finally finds a true equal in Rebecca Ferguson's MI-6 deep undercover agent, Ilsa Faust. I haven't seen Ferguson in anything before this, but she's the best written character in the film, and Ferguson flat-out nails it in a star-making performance. McQuarrie, as he showed in Jack Reacher, has a real knack for gritty car chases, and the film is full of stand-out action set pieces that feel different from each other. Fast-paced, with a briskness and lightness in tone that proves totally entertaining (Simon Pegg is key in that regard), this is one Mission you should choose to accept.
The Bad: The villain, played by Sean Harris, has a creepy look but is otherwise not very menacing or memorable. Apart from Philip Seymour Hoffman in M:I-3, villains have been a real problem for this franchise. The viewer is asked to suspend a lot of disbelief with some of the action and what characters would be able to walk away from. As Julie mentioned, apart from Ferguson, the lack of females on screen is a bit distracting.
Should You See It?: Definitely. As the dog days of August roll in, you won't find a better movie in theaters than this. Between Rogue Nation and Mad Max: Fury Road, it's been a great summer for action.
Star Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Mission: Impossible, M:I-2, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Worse Than: M:I-3, Mad Max: Fury Road
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