In a surprisingly entertaining filled summer, Rogue Nation comes out with oddly no buzz. However, a movie previously announced for a December release, getting speed tracked to the end of summer is usually a good sign … right? It seems so.
Director and writer Christopher McQuarrie previously directed “Jack Reacher” and “The Way of the Gun.” Although the former had bit of a polarizing reception, it showed a lot of potential what McQuarrie can do with an action movie. For McQuarrie’s previous writing credit, he wrote “The Edge of Tomorrow,” and also “Valkyrie,” but most noticeably, he wrote “The Usual Suspect.” He has worked with Tom Cruise on three previous movies, so for Tom Cruise to entrust a franchise after the big success of Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol, it says a lot about McQuarrie’s talent as a director.
The Mission Impossible movie franchise follows a familiar formula, but the producers seemed to have cracked the code on making it fresh and even more entertaining after every installment (minus MI: 2). The reason behind this success is that with every iteration in the series, the producers have been changing the directors regardless of the box office or critical success, and also they have been learning what works and doesn’t. Mission Impossible itself is becoming it’s very own canvas, and each director gets to paint what they want to do with Ethan Hunt and crew but of course being guided by the producers, specifically Tom Cruise.
The characters feel more fleshed out and less like throwaway characters in this installment, but it could be because most of the crew members were in previous movies. Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, and of course, Tom Cruise all return in this installment, with new addition Rebecca Ferguson playing a bit of a femme fatale character.
The chemistry between all the characters was what really set this movie apart from the others since we have seen most of these characters in action before. However, one actor stands out as much as Tom Cruise–Simon Pegg. He really shines in Rogue Nation. His comedic timing and delivery is always on point, but he also had some other moments that really showed his dramatic acting chops.
Jeremy Renner and the return of Ving Rhames really round out the team with their own idiosyncrasies. Renner’s Brandt is the voice of reason and the line Hunt shouldn’t cross, but when Hunt does cross the line, we know how dire the situation must be. Rhames’ Luther Stickell has always been a fan favorite and he doesn’t miss a beat with his humor and his insight into whatever problem the team is facing.
Out of all the new additions, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust had a great blend of mystery and toughness. Playing the Femme Fatale character, she is very similar to Thandie Newton’s character from “Mission: Impossible II,” but done so much better in terms of writing. Compared to Thandie Newton’s character, she takes more of an active role in her dilemma instead of being a damsel in distress.
The one problem I always see with the series is that the villains aren’t very memorable. In this movie, the villain is definitely an improvement to the fourth film and the motivation is laid out pretty clearly, but he is not well fleshed out. Sean Harris does a good job with what he is given, and his character was a great foil to Ethan Hunt, but he just doesn’t have that quality as a Joker or a Hans Landa. There aren’t many scenes where we get to see the evil genius of the character personally acted out or even on screen with Ethan Hunt. In Mission: Impossible III, Phillip Seymour Hoffman had great scenes where he was being a villain and also terrifying such as when Ethan Hunt is being interrogated or when Hoffman’s character was being interrogated. In Rogue Nation, Sean Harris’ character is mostly off screen doing his evil plan.
Even though all the actors and actress are great, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is the clear cut all-star. In this movie, Christopher McQuarrie made Ethan Hunt a perfect combination of Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones. He’s not a perfect or invincible hero, nor is he beating people up effortlessly. He’s constantly battling uphill, getting beat up, or nearly dying as he tries to complete the mission. He’s hobbling, recovering, and always on the verge of breaking, and all this is noticeable through Tom Cruise’s acting and commitment to character.
Rogue Nation also has some of the best action and stunt scenes in the series. It is directed and edited in a way where every impact felt a bit more powerful than in previous installments. With the knowledge that Tom Cruise is performing his own stunts, it’s definitely a lot more jaw dropping when we see him hanging on the side of a plane or when we see him on a motorcycle zipping down the road. In regards to the stunt that is overly advertised where Ethan Hunt is on the plane, it is perfectly placed at the beginning of the movie, so the audience is not waiting for the set piece that they have seen in the trailer.
There are times in the movie where it ever so slightly drags, but out of all the Mission: Impossible movies, this might very well be my favorite.
Title typo: “Rogue”, not “Rouge”. It would be a very different movie if it were indeed rouge nation…
Thank you very much! Now it’s time to write a script titled “Rouge” Nation and send it to the creators of Sharknado.
Great review, Chuck! I agree with most of your points, especially singling out Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson, as well as McQuarrie for bringing his A game in the director’s chair. This franchise shows no sign of slowing down, so keep em coming!
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