REVIEW: Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation
Say what you will about Tom Cruise as a person but as an actor and producer, he is one of the strongest performers in Hollywood. For the last 19 years, he has been responsible for Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible franchise and has turned it into a goldmine. The fifth installment, Rogue Nation, arrives tomorrow in a combo pack from Paramount Home Entertainment just as people worry about the granddaddy of espionage franchises, James Bond.
I was not alone in feeling disappointed by Spectre, a lax story, a waste of Monica Bellucci, and boring set pieces. In comparison, the three major action sequences in Rogue Nation are fresher, more exciting, and still works on repeated watching.
Cruise set out at the beginning to honor Bruce Gellar’s creation but also add new flavors by insisting someone different direct each movie. Brian DePalma set the stage and satisfied fans while John Wu had a misfire but then they came back with J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and now Christopher McQuarrie. The latter, it seems, was an uncredited writer on the previous film, Ghost Protocol and has been a frequent collaborator with Cruise so seemed a natural to become the next director. It should be noted that the film was so successful McQuarrie will be the first repeat director.
Whereas M:I 4 isolated Ethan Hunt and the IMF team because of things going awry in Russia, the new film takes things a step further, echoing Spectre’s thread that such agencies have outlived their usefulness. Without government support, Hunt cannot hope to uncover their shadowy duplicate agency, Spectre, er, the Syndicate despite the global consequences for failure.
The team is fractured as Hunt recruits Benji (Simon Pegg) to leave his dead end desk job and join him in Europe. Meantime, when Hunt and Benji go silent, IMF Chief William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) seeks out Luther (Ving Rhames) to come to their aid. In the mix is Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may be working for the syndicate, some other agency, or out for herself. All Hunt knows is that she’s very good at what she does and comes to trust her when others remain suspicious.
The story, credited to Drew Pearce and McQuarrie, takes us around the world, uses inventive technology, and rarely lets up the pace while leavening the drama with some genuine humor and warmth between the characters. If there’s flaw, it is that Hunt remains a bit flat as a character, especially without any hint of his private life, which made Mission: Impossible III, a richer experience.
McQuarrie does a great job moving things along and the action sequences – Hunt on the airplane, the mandatory car/motorcycle chase, and the underwater computer bit – all work. While newcomer Ferguson has garnered the majority of the raves, a deadpan Alec Baldwin as CIA Director Alan Hunley should be credited with keeping things interesting. The final moments with the downfall of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is pitch perfect, replicating how many of the classic episodes ended.
The Blu-ray transfer is just swell, perfect for revisiting the film at home matched well with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
The film comes with several featurettes, all just long enough to give you the basics without getting boring. In some cases, I wish there was more, especially about the franchise as a whole but I suppose leaving them wanting more is better than boring us.
We open with Audio Commentary from Cruise and McQuarrie and you can sense how comfortable they are with one another, which transfers neatly into the film itself.
Lighting the Fuse (5:57) focuses mainly on McQuarrie’s involvement, as partner and director; Cruise Control (6:33) shines the same spotlight on Cruise’s role in the filmmaking process; Heroes… (8:06), profiles the recurring IMF agents plus Ilsa; Cruising Altitude (8:23), so how did they film that plane sequence; Mission: Immersible (6:45) is all about the underwater sequence with emphasis on the physical training required; Sand Theft Auto (5:35) explores the high speed vehicle chases; and, The Missions Continue (7:08) where cast and crew reflect on the franchise’s staying power.
The combo pack comes with a DVD and Digital HD code.