Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Over the years the Mission Impossible franchise has honed itself into one of the more sure-fire franchises in 21st century Hollywood. Yes, much of the appeal comes from the chance to see Tom Cruise running around in both a suit and casual wear, but there’s more going on here than that. While traditionally long-running movie series lose their way and start dragging in new concepts to try and keep things fresh, the M:I series have kept their focus firmly on a handful of core elements.
First: just about every instalment opens with Ethan Hunt (Cruise) either going rogue from the Impossible Mission Force or the whole IMF being shut down, and this is no different – though in a nice touch, it’s the over-the-top antics of the previous film that have led to the CIA chief (Alec Baldwin) calling for their doors to be shuttered. That way Hunt can get all the cool gadgets the IMF have handy, without having to actually report in to anyone – nothing slows down an action film like having to keep your boss in the loop, and while Jeremy Renner’s character is nominally the guy in charge, his job is to run interference for Hunt back at HQ while Hunt has adventures.
Second: everything that isn’t a big action set-piece is stripped back as far as it can go. There’s some banter between the team members (Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are on board as resident hackers) but all the character work is shifted onto femme fatale Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be double-crossing everyone as an agent of The Syndicate, the IMF’s evil twin. And most importantly: all the big action set-pieces are really good.
The tradition of ridiculously complex heists (it’s the only thing anyone remembers from the first film) continues here with a sequence requiring them to break into a computer vault underwater, there’s a three-way assassination in an opera house that just keeps on piling on the twists (and features a trombone that’s been turned into a sniper rifle), and even the more traditional car chases are handled by director Christopher McQuarrie with admirable skill and flair. Perhaps the most telling part of this extremely satisfying film is the way that Hunt, while clearly superhuman, isn’t invincible: the handful of moments where he’s caught off guard and left flailing go a long way towards humanising a guy seemingly immune to the effects of gravity.