MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [Review]: Manifest Destiny Incarnate.
It’s hard to believe that through four, and in all likelihood, five wildly successful films in 20-years, there hasn’t been a Mission Impossible video game since 1996’s original PlayStation effort; nor any comics to remember of since the 60’s television show of the same name (forgiving the sole Marvel/Paramount one-shot venture in the movie franchise’s initial year). Oh, and toys? You’d be hard-pressed to find anything other than your typical 300-buck Entertainment Earth statuette.
Kudos, then, to Producer/Actor Tom Cruise and his oft-beloved MI franchise for not whoring out to #Merica–at least just yet. You’ll be happy to know the new film sticks to what it does best, too, with even snappier chatter and more bone-snapping action.
To put it shortly, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation offers an array of death-defying thrills, and it’s arguable that three of the film’s stunts will get the heart beating faster than any other previous installment.
What makes these moments in MI:RN really glisten, however, is the better than usual action dialogue from Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher). That’s not entirely unexpected from my point of view, since this journalist considers McQuarrie’s brilliant script for Edge of Tomorrow — Live. Die. Repeat! — also one of Cruise’s most criminally underrated films. Because Rogue Nation has much of the same humorous vibe, the momentary lapses between the eye-popping set action pieces are far more enjoyable than the previous 4 films.
It surely didn’t hurt that McQuarrie still had Ghost Protocal stand-out Simon Pegg (The World’s End) at his disposal; just as the writer was keen on eyeing Alec Baldwin for the brunt of his fantastic white collar comedy. Baldwin’s bitch-nasty CIA director and Jeremy “Hawkeye” Renner‘s IMF dude had Paramount’s preview audience yucking it up as much as Pegg’s many “awkward little brother” Benji Dunn moments with Cruise’s more frighteningly intense Ethan Hunt. Thank the high heavens, geeks, Rogue Nation is also Mission Impossible‘s funniest film.
More importantly to continuity freaks is the seemless transition from Hunt’s end-mission in Ghost Protocal to the first scene in Rogue Nation: track down the Syndicate–those ex-operatives causing all of this “behind the scenes” world-domineering disaster. They now pose as the biggest and only roadblock to Hunt’s now esteemed IMF outfit. Or “is it all a dream?,” to which one immense BK native asked many a year ago. Hell, that’s what the CIA thinks. Finding out that exact connection between Hunt’s ambiguity and the Syndicate’s end-game is what makes RN all the more fun, despite a too-swift conclusion and little more than one-note villain (Prometheus‘ Sean Harris).
Yet, it certainly doesn’t hurt to witness all of the Black-Ops-meets-Splinter-Cell video-gamey espionage in such delightful locales (i.e. Austria’s Vienna State Opera House; London and Morocco’s plains, trains, and automobikes), courtesy of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (Nightcrawler, There Will Be Blood), either.
Speaking of delights, Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) was an absolute scene-stealer. Even if she doesn’t perform the majority of her hurricanrana-knife-stabbing stunts like the superhuman Cruise does, Ilsa’s ravishing MI6 spy still ramps up much of the film’s intensity and proves, by the end credits, only arguably second to Cruise’s Hunt as MI5‘s most powerful character–and performer. The same can’t be said for any of previously forgotten ladies who only went one-and-done with the franchise. While the women have tended to get stronger by the Impossible Mission, it’s nice to see one who finally makes her mark, especially in terms of accountability over mere exotic romantica, too.
In all, De Palma’s MI had better twists, Woo’s MI:II had better sex, Abrams’ MI:III had better villains, Bird’s MI:IV had better cohesion, and McQuarrie’s MI:V, now, has better…fun. Whether its three high-shining moments of suspense and funnier banter make up for a less adequate third act or not, is all up to cinematic taste. Still, you could do worse than finish your big movie summer with Rogue Nation— and pray that those Mission Impossible next-gen games, graphic novels, and action figures release all the more fucking soon.
Paramount Pictures’ Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation screeches to theaters everywhere in North America this Friday, July 31st.