Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation Review

Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation Review
Since this blog was not in existence over the last ten years, allow me to please run through my thoughts on the "Mission: Impossible" franchise. Much like the "Fast & Furious" series, I consider the "Mission: Impossible" movies to be a Hail Mary franchise. It is also one of our weirdest ongoing series in a long time. A few years back, I wrote about the 1996 film as apart of my Essentials column. I have seen that movie dozens and dozens of times, and I still think I couldn't pass a test over it. It is one of the most mind-bending of brain-teasers and it seemed that director Brian DePalma had a delightful time tearing down the characters fans held in such regard. "MI-2" came out in 2000, and its a movie I truly, madly hate. Its essentially an artful, slow-motion action films and since it was directed by John Woo, there are plenty of doves. "M:I-III" in 2005 was a step in a better direction, but it was basically the same movie that the first films were. In 2011, "Ghost Protocol" was released, and I was just about ready to give up on "Mission: Impossible" movies. Up until that point, all the movies were the same, it was Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt chasing a rogue IMF agent and trying to stop his plan using a clever McGuffin. In the first film it was the NOC List, in the second film it was the Chimera virus, in the third film it was the Rabbit's Foot (and it drove me fucking nuts that by the end of them movie, we never found out what the Rabbit's Foot was). In "Ghost Protocol" there were no double agents are silly McGuffins, this time it was just pure cinema and a breath of fresh air.

"Ghost Protocol" showed us that with love and care, there was still plenty of gas left in the "Mission: Impossible" tank, and that has been proven again with "Rogue Nation." This is another exciting chapter in a franchise that has been given new blood, a new jolt of life and energy. Honestly, I couldn't be happier. I am glad that Paramount has found a way to make this franchise whole again, and if we get another ten years of chapters this big and bold, then I will definitely be on-board. 

One thing that sticks out of "Rogue Nation"from the beginning, is taken as a whole, this feels like the most complete adaptation of the old television series. Some of the movies chose to do the opening credits featuring small scenes from the movie we were about to watch, just as the TV show did with each new episode. But, "Rogue Nation" even takes that a bit further. As a whole, the "Mission: Impossible" film franchise has just been a spy-action franchise with some IMF trademarks sprinkled here and there. It has never really embraced what made "Mission: Impossible" the TV show so different from all the other spy stuff that was on the rage back in the 1960's. The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) was NOT James Bond. They didn't rely on suave looks, cool cars, seducing beautiful women. Yes, they had some cool gadgets, but what type of spy didn't? An IMF team worked completely behind the scenes, and once the bad guys had been duped, the IMF was long gone. To a degree "Rogue Nation" embraces that a bit, and it put a smile on my face how Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) settled the score with the films main villain in this movie.

But don't fret, there is still plenty of action to be enthralled by. There are still plenty of crazy fights, high-speed chases, and Cruise doing his best stunts to keep people happy. In this adventure, Hunt has been on the run from the CIA. It seems the CIA's director (Alec Baldwin) doesn't understand the need for the IMF and plans to have it absorbed by the CIA, much to William Brandt's (Jeremy Renner) dismay. Ethan Hunt becomes CIA's most wanted as he tries to uncover the truth behind The Syndicate, a group of multinational disavowed agents who plan to turn the world into anarchy, a group no intelligence service believes exists. Hunt enlists the help of Benji Dunne (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) to prove The Syndicate's existence. He also makes an unlikely ally in Elsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) a British intelligence agent whose allegiances are pretty mysterious throughout.

Let's talk about Rebecca Ferguson for a moment, because man, she is going to be a household name in just a few years. She steals every single scene she has in this movie as if her life depended on it. I love that the movie never makes Faust's and Hunt's relationship romantic, but they are good team, and they deliver big action and a couple subtle laughs as well. But there is something about Ferguson's performance that is highly addicting, and I think she has a big career ahead of her. The work by Cruise, Pegg, Renner and Rhames is stupendous. I love that these characters made up the team in this movie, and if Paramount ever wants to make a Fast Five-esque movie and get Paula Patton, Maggie Q, Jonathon Rhys-Meyers, and John Polson to re-join Hunt and the rest of the gang, I'd totally be down to see that. 

These movies are only as good as their villains, and Sean Harris creates a great villain in Solomon Lane, the agent who is responsible for leading The Syndicate. Its refreshing that Solomon Lane is a villain who is a mental threat to Hunt, more than anything else. Hunt always tries to be ten-steps ahead of the problem, but in this movie the problem is ten steps ahead of him and leads to great stand-off.

"Rogue Nation" is much more of a spy thriller than an action picture vehicle, but I think that is what I loved the most about it. I loved that for lots of the movie, this felt like a big episode of the TV show. Cruise proves he can play Ethan Hunt into the unforeseeable future, and I am a-okay with that. I believe in "Mission: Impossible" again, and that is the best thing I can say about this new movie. This is a mission you will choose to accept.

FINAL GRADE: A

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