Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Genre: Action

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Zhang Jingchu, Tom Hollander, Jens Hulten, Alec Baldwin

Running Length: 131 minutes

Synopsis: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the rest of the IMF team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Review: With the box office success of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, it was inevitable that there would be a fifth movie in the M:I series, but it is still somewhat surprising to see Tom Cruise tackle the role with such energy and conviction after a 19-year run. Now 53 years of age, Cruise seems to have taken after the Jackie Chan model of filmmaking, eschewing green screen and digital trickery with actual balls-to-the-wall stuntwork apparently performed mostly by himself. Regardless of what has gone on in his personal life (and the recent HBO documentary on Scientology will do no favours for his already tarnished image), Cruise continues to impress in his performance as Ethan Hunt, and is largely the reason why Rogue Nation works, even though the film does not supplant Ghost Protocol as the best film thus far in the franchise. 

The earlier M:I films had valued style over substance, and the plot threads were exceedingly confusing to follow for audiences. This had improved dramatically in Ghost Protocol, and in Rogue Nation the trend continues, with the relatively straightforward plot pretty much checking off everything a stock spy thriller should contain – a menacing supervillain, a femme fatale with dubious loyalties, multiple locations across the globe, thrilling car chases and visceral action sequences. While James Bond still holds the crown for the spy movie genre (particularly the current Daniel Craig era films), Ethan Hunt and the IMF is a close second. 

There is no doubt that Mission: Impossible is a star vehicle for Tom Cruise, and he still manages to hold the fort here with impressive ease. Apart from his physicality, Cruise remains a charismatic actor, and plays his roguish charms here to the hilt. Rebecca Ferguson is a capable foil as the aptly-named Ilsa Faust, and kudos to McQuarrie for creating a strong female character that very rarely reverts to damsel-in-distress mode, who surprisingly is not positioned as a “Bond Girl” love interest for Hunt. Simon Pegg’s role was largely played for laughs in Ghost Protocol, but in Rogue Nation he has become a key character, though most of the comedic work in the film still falls squarely on Pegg’s shoulders. The other returning characters – Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames – are unfortunately sidelined and barely given enough to do to justify their presence here. Although there seems to be strong Chinese financial backing for the film, the only Chinese actress present, Zhang Jingchu, has such a minimal blink-and-miss-it role that her inclusion seems to be purely an afterthought.  

Disappointingly, despite screening in IMAX theatres, none of the footage in Rogue Nation seems to have been shot on IMAX cameras (compared to the near half-hour of IMAX footage found in Ghost Protocol). The film still dazzles on the largest screen format, but does not boast the immersiveness that Ghost Protocol had. Given that the action set-pieces in Rogue Nation are as impressive as Ghost Protocol, this truly feels like a wasted opportunity. However, Rogue Nation remains a strong entry in the M:I franchise, and it would not be surprising that a sixth installment is greenlit based on the box office performance of this one. 

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)

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