Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense, Thriller
Rated: PG-13 (For Sequences of Action and Violence, and Brief Partial Nudity)
Picking up after the events of Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation continues the story of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF, an elite group of secret agents in charge of protecting the world through top secret assignments.
However, things are not going well. After barely saving the U.S. from a potential nuclear danger, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) decides to go after the group for their seemingly extreme methods and disbands the team. Hunt is then faced with his greatest threat yet: a group known as “The Syndicate” (described as the “anti-IMF”) which he claims is behind many of the global conflicts in the modern world.
Becoming a wanted man and faced with almost no resources, Ethan then goes on the run from facing prosecution while trying to stop the Syndicate’s next world-shaping plans from becoming a catastrophic reality. Loyalties and friendships are put on the line and tested in IMF’s most dangerous mission yet.
Violence: Shoot-outs, bare-knuckle fights, assassination attempts. What else did you expect from a Mission: Impossible movie? There is some blood used for effect, but not overtly graphic and only presented a handful of times.
Language/Crude Humor: The film holds the standard PG-13-styled cursing. Expect to hear some “s**t”, and maybe a few other grown-up words.
Sexual Content: You may want to watch out for those curves–and, no, I’m not just talking about the film’s impressive chase scene. The film doesn’t shy away from showing off some of Rebecca Ferguson’s finer “assets.” Many shots of her in a bikini and underwear abound. One of the more revealing scenes shows a shot of Ferguson’s character removing her shirt from behind and a bit of her breast is visible.
Drug/Alcohol Use: As of the time of this writing, I do not recall any character in the film using drugs or drinking alcohol of any kind.
Spiritual Content: The film doesn’t make reference to any spiritual content.
Positive Content: One can look into the film and find themes of loyalty and friendship and the cost of trusting someone who may or may not be who they are. It’s an important lesson one can take away from the film.
Negative Content: Being a PG-13 movie, there is some violence and lots of people getting hurt or killed for the cause of national security. While I didn’t mind it as it was part of the action of the film, some audiences with deeper convictions may even find the action in Rogue Nation too violent for their taste.
Rogue Nation continues in the footsteps of Ghost Protocol with some great action scenes and fantastic stunts. The film opens up with the iconic scene made famous in all of the promos with Tom Cruise hanging on for dear life on the side of an airplane as it is taking off. Why is this scene so impressive and why has it been pushed so much by the marketing?
Well, for one this was a practical, CGI-less stunt performed by none other than Cruise himself. At 53, Tom Cruise shows the world that he is far from letting up and he brings the same powerhouse gravitas from all of his previous films to the latest Mission: Impossible.
It’s amazing how much on-screen charisma Cruise has because it highly relies on it due to the fact that for most of the film the IMF team is pretty scattered and forced to take a backseat. Cruise’s Hunt eventually finds a partner to confide in in the form of Simon Pegg’s geeky comedic relief, Benji Dunn. Dunn finds himself under surveillance behind a desk job at the CIA while sneaking in shameless Microsoft product placements in the form of some Halo 5: Guardians multi-player rounds. He is soon called into action by Hunt when he unexpectedly receives tickets to an opera show in Vienna where the film begins its globe-trotting action sequences.
Pegg who is usually side-lined in the previous M:I films gets himself quite a bit of action in many of the film’s set piece moments. I found this to be a nice surprise as the character proves that he is a reliable ally useful for more than just punching buttons on a keyboard and snapping witty quotes over comms.
The rest of the cast works rather well with series vet Ving “I’m gonna get medieval on yo’ –!” Rhames making his expected (but highly underutilized) return, Jeremy Renner, and series newcomer Rebecca Ferguson who plays the sultry but untrustworthy double agent IIsa Faust whose allegiance is questioned numerous times during the film. Ferguson is a fine addition to the series as she proves she is more than capable of keeping up with Cruise, even rivaling him during several instances.
The action scenes and stunts are rather impressive, especially during the chase scene which concludes with a really well-shot and edited motorcycle chase. This sequence sees many a Syndicate goon eat some asphalt. But the best set piece moment in the film goes to the break-in scene at a high-security military installation in Casablanca where the team has to access a computer server located under millions of gallons of water.
This is one of the most tense scenes in a film this summer, with the stakes high and the rate of success for our heroes rather low. I also appreciated how the exclusion of music during these sort of scenes really ratcheted up the suspense, adding a heart-pounding intensity to the situations. I also loved the many visual throwbacks to the past M:I films that the movie makes (the motorcycle chase scene can be seen as a tribute to the one in Mission: Impossible 2, for example).
It is pretty disappointing then that as good as the film began, the third act is a rather wimpy one. In stark contrast to the first hour and a half of the film, Rogue Nation falters a bit during the final proceedings as the characters find themselves with their backs to the wall. They are, dare I say, in a rather impossible situation. But only to have the film kill off any sense of immediacy and tension by just about handing the solution over to the characters without much work or stakes on the line.
What follows afterwards is a lazy finale that fails to recapture the awe of the film’s earlier and much more capable set pieces. I found this a surprise as the Mission: Impossible movies are known for their pretty explosive climactic set-pieces, but Rogue Nation decides to take a more laid-back and (while a bit clever) standard route which when compared to the previous films in the series is rather “meh.”
In addition, I also have to make mention of the weak villains which, in retrospect, has always been one of the series’ main flaws. The Syndicate, while intimidating (mainly due to Sean Harris’ creepy performance as Solomon Lane) are often cliché-ridden and not very interesting. This would have been a perfect film to shake things up a bit more and introduce a more personal threat for Hunt and the IMF, but Rogue Nation seems content in keeping things the way they are in this department.
While a bit of a let-down coming straight off of the heels of the impressive Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, this mission isn’t a complete failure. Tom Cruise once again proves that at 53-years-old he can still hold his own while delivering a intense physical performance. Far from being the best or worst in the series, Rogue Nation still manages to play up some great action scenes, suspenseful moments, and fun gadgetry despite an uninteresting villain and a final act that fizzles out.
The Bottom Line