Rogue Nation is the fifth installment of the Tom Cruise spy movie franchise. Like all Mission Impossibles, Ethan takes on missions that most people deem impossible, of course. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, making the missions even more difficult, as expected. Tom Cruise may be well into his fifties already, but he’s clearly still on his game. Rogue Nation has been strongly pushing the fact with the aging actor doing his own stunts despite them involving rather dangerous situations. Which makes you wonder. Does the new Mission Impossible deliver on the expectations of the franchise with little more promise than Tom Cruise doing crazy stunts and something about a secret organization he’s also dealing with. It seems safe to say it does.
The movie starts off with Ethan Hunt on a typical mission. Breaking protocol, doing things that are borderline treason, and getting the job done like usual. Benji (Simon Pegg) tags along for the mission and Luther (Ving Rhames) is shown as still working diligently for the IMF, and helping Hunt when he can. William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) went from surprisingly useful field agent in Ghost Protocol to Head of the IMF by the time of Rogue Nation. And that’s really all we get of the IMF group. Though the group may be small, each person is given some rather big parts to play throughout. Ethan Hunt and Benji might get a bit more to work with, but Brandt and Luther offer plenty of charm when they’re on-screen.
The early mission appears to be successful. But soon after, Ethan is thrown into chaos as the very organization he’s trying to find reveals itself to him. Setting off a chain reaction that pushes Ethan further than he’s ever been. The IMF is disbanded despite Brandt’s best efforts. Ethan is captured and labeled a target by the CIA, and his friends are all powerless to help him, being forced to accept being allocated to other jobs or simply quitting. Ethan Hunt is certainly pushed to his limits. If anything can be gleamed from the history of the Mission Impossible movies, when Ethan Hunt is backed into a corner, he certainly knows how to push back, and hard.
There are some nice call backs to the previous movies. Most notably when Hunley brings up reasons for why the IMF is a bad organization. Although that’s about as close as the movie gets with tying loosely connected movies together. The evil organization known as the Syndicate still comes off as a rather singular force that comes and goes with the movie, likely to not have much more impact in the future. Although there is a slim chance that it may return, leaving room for another unique task for Hunt to handle.
Simon Pegg has a charm to his acting performances. One that shines when he plays Benji in Mission Impossible. Whether he’s playing games at work, making snide comments on the situation, or simply working in the field, it’s always a treat to see what Benji does and how he behaves. Jeremy Renner isn’t given much to do this film. Playing Head of the IMF, he’s stuck in a room reminding Ethan not to break protocol and go to hearings with Head of the CIA, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), to tell everyone that he can neither confirm nor deny anything. He’s the voice of reason in the gang, but reasonable decisions hardly go anywhere in Mission Impossible. Ving Rhames acts like the same Luthor we know and love. With absolute faith in his close friends and the usual pompous attitude, Luthor does what he feels is right and really works his magic given little information or little to no time to work with.
The action is as tense as ever. Whether Ethan is holding onto a plane as it takes off, trying to hold his breath underwater for a couple of minutes, or simply fighting/shooting/chasing some bad guys, the tension stays high. The scenes are coupled nicely with fittingly intense music.
Iisa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) works for the Syndicate, aids Ethan Hunt a few times, and never has a clear objective of whose side she’s on. It’s not the typical “is she good or bad?” dilemma similar spy movies face. You never know which side she’ll choose, not for simply making each decision questionable, but for making them decided based on what she thinks is best for her situation in terms of what job needs to be done while making sure she, herself, stays alive. She is very much like the female Ethan Hunt, just with no reliable friends to turn to.
The twists and turns in the plot work nicely. It may not always come off as unexpected by the end and may even feel a little borrowed (especially with a certain set piece near the end), but they are effective nonetheless. It benefited a lot from driving down moments to the last second, milisecond, or beyond the time limit, or having things actually go according to plan for once, something Ethan and the gang seemed to be lacking in a long time.
Rogue Nation does a good job of pushing Hunt to the limits and offering an impressive force of opposition (Especially compared to the villains of Jack Reacher, another venture made by Tom Cruise). Some things play out a little expected while other things unfold in quite surprising ways. The missions do seem quite impossible and Hunt’s solutions are as unorthodox as ever. In the end, Rogue Nation seems like a fitting addition to the franchise.
(4 out of 5)
In case you’re wondering, there is no after credit scene.
During a review with the Daily Show, Tom Cruise claimed that Mission Impossible 6 is already scheduled to begin filming sometime in summer of 2016. Tom isn’t getting any younger, but he seems to be following a good regimen to manage a few more years of personally doing his own crazy stunts. Cruise is also working on another file with Doug Liman, who gave us Edge of Tomorrow (A rather great movie also starring Tom Cruise). So it should be interesting to see what both these movies have to offer.