Posted July 29, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews
 
 

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Review


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Rogue Nation now marks the fifth film in the series headed up by Tom Cruise. We’re seen five very different directors come onboard, a variety of tech-savvy nerds and also leggy females as his IMF selected team members. We’ve also seem in most of the films the bad guys portrayed by current or former spies themselves. At about the mid-way point there is an elaborate break in to some difficult to penetrate establishment, and more often than not Hunt isn’t stealing something for himself, more often than not he’s doing it for the bad guy who has cornered him in the ongoing game of chess between the parties. And usually Hunt at some point ends up on the run from his own people. Throw in the revelation in the third act that someone is not who they appear to be (often by the fact that they tear off a fake face covering their own), add a sprinkling of set pieces set around the world, one of which involves Cruise doing some impressive real life stunt for real and there you have it!

So what has changed? New director, tech-savvy and female leggy cohorts, rogue spies, hunt on the run, hunt on the break in, face tearing, insane stunts. All checked and present.

The Mission: Impossible series it seems is about to fall into a stalemate situation. Reliant on far too many tropes – which to be fair give the film its identity (much like the Bourne or Bond spy franchises) – but it’s only a matter of time before they end up being the downfall of the series.

Why it hasn’t run dry yet could well be attributed to Cruise’s brilliant plan to introduce a new director each time (and for the large part – new writers). Rogue Nation perfects what the third and fourth movies were going for in terms of tone; balancing comedy and real thrills along the way.

This time round Ethan Hunt is on the run (again, this time thanks to the CIA dissolving the IMF branch) and on a mission to prove that a group called the Syndicate is out there causing international mayhem.

The large portion of the screen time is given to Cruise, newcomer to the franchise Rebecca Ferguson (who is excellent) and Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn, leaving Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames slightly off to the sidelines for the large part. Alex Baldwin is reliant as the CIA man in charge who has shut the IMF down and is on the hunt, for Hunt.

Benji Dunn is perhaps the most difficult character to balance for the series as he is essentially the comic relief, there to scream in the passenger seat as Cruise does wild things that put them in danger (And he literally does for one entire set-piece scream along in the passenger seat next to Tom Cruise). Dunn was almost unbearable in the previous film as he got promoted from tech-nerd to field agent – who then bumbled and nervously spoke his way through his entire role (which in reality is a complete joke, especially considering this is meant to be the Impossible Mission Force. Who lets a nervous clown like this out in the field?). But simply put this part is written to entertain easy audiences who want a laugh next to their heart stopping action. It does diminish the quality of the series and makes the action a bit lighter, but at least Pegg has started to iron out the creases in the role this time round.

As bad guy – Sean Harris who knows how to sell his presence in front of the cameras (Minimal posture, it’s all in the blank facial expression) isn’t given much time on screen. And like the previous film, he isn’t ever going to be much in the way of a physical enemy. But he’s about as good as the series has ever been.

As for the general portrayal of nations: The British spy network is portrayed in one scene as an agency that couldn’t give a damn if American spies get hurt. The scene that follows has the American spies displaying the opposite attitude – doing what they can in order to help their British spy friends (who keep screwing them over).  It’s a bit of a cheesy “America is the ultimate good guy and is here to save the world” attitude that UK audiences will have about as much fun with as they did in Independence Day when America was also there to save the world.

But to be fair this is pretty much the world saving attitude of Ethan Hunt.  Everyone else is happy to do things the easy way to get the job done. Hunt though it seems has made missions impossible for himself but taking the longest, daredevil approach so long as it means he doesn’t have to hurt innocents. Without Hunt on board the work would just be called “Mission”.

It’s no surprise to see Christopher McQuarrie hard at work building tension, not just through thrills and spills, but also through his shooting style and the lingering looks that characters deliver on camera. A solid choice for director and even with the tom-foolery attached this still comes off as a more assured and spy-like film.

This is a good time out at the cinema for sure. Very familiar for the current fan base, and slightly edgier than the last film. This will assure a sixth in the series for sure and it will be at that time that we see where they decide to go with the series. It hasn’t gone stale yet – but they may be on borrowed time.

4 Stars

 

 

 

Steven Hurst


editor