"Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation"
Release Date: July 31, 2015
Running Time: 131 minutes
Who among us thought after Mission: Impossible III that Simon Pegg would turn his extended cameo as IMF technician Benji Dunn into the invaluable role of Ethan Hunt’s sidekick? Two sequels later and Dunn’s gone from field agent in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol to Hunt’s right-hand man in Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation. And that’s just fine. Before Pegg, the Mission: Impossible franchise lacked much of a sense of humor. Well, Mission: Impossible II was a ridiculously over-the-top mess, but the intent wasn’t to provoke laughter. But Pegg provides more than some much-needed comic relief in Ghost Protocol and now Rogue Nation. He’s supplanted Ving Rhames’ computer hacker Luther Stickell as Hunt’s sounding board and confidant. Pegg provides the anxious voice of the everyman that helps keep Hunt grounded and focused. And, in Rogue Nation, he pushes Hunt beyond his physical limits whenever possible. A looks of dismay creeps across Tom Cruise’s face whenever his Hunt is forced to engage in James Bondian feats of heroism, projecting the sense that Hunt is beginning to become aware of his own mortality. Of course, this does not stop Hunt from hanging off an airplane in the opening scene, which ranks among one of the most exhilarating stunts offered so far by the Mission: Impossible franchise. Or, for that matter, putting himself in constant danger in Rogue Nation, which pits a disbanded Impossible Mission Force against The Syndicate, an “anti-IMF” organization with an agenda that co-writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has trouble elucidating. No matter. Hunt and his trusted allies—Benji, Luther, and Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt—work to bring down The Syndicate despite the protests of Alec Baldwin’s unconvinced CIA chief. Ghost Protocol’s Paula Patton’s Jane Carter is conspicuously absent from Rogue Nation. In her place is Hercules’ Rebecca Ferguson, who maintains an air of mystery as Ilsa Faust, a rogue intelligence officer who seems to be playing both Hunt and The Syndicate leader Solomon Lane (Prometheus’ Sean Harris). Ferguson is the first woman in the Mission: Impossible franchise who is positioned as Hunt’s physical and intelligence equal, and this manifests itself in several surprising and welcomed ways in Rogue Nation. Plus, McQuarrie thankfully steers clear of making Ilsa just a love interest for Hunt. Rogue Nation’s weak link is its villain. Lane manipulates events from afar and in the shadows, so the final confrontation between Hunt and Lane never feels as climatic as it should. He’s also a poorly defined bad guy, one who never really engenders the fear that supposedly grips Hunt. So Hunt’s left to go one on one with Lane’s indistinguishable henchmen. The Mission: Impossible franchise, though, is less about its villains than the impossible situations Hunt finds himself in. And Rogue Nation rarely disappoints when it comes to placing Hunt in danger. McQuarrie executes Rogue Nation’s set pieces with the same authority he showed in Jack Reacher, which also starred Cruise. He also does a better job of generating Hitchcockian suspense an assassination attempt in the Vienna State Opera house than Brian De Palma ever did throughout the course of his Mission: Impossible, although it does end in a way that would not please Hitchcock. More important, McQuarrie inherits a franchise that Brad Bird refreshed with Ghost Protocol and runs with it. The Mission: Impossible franchise continues to get better with age, which—like Benji Dunn’s emergence—no one expected after Mission: Impossible III.
Aired: July 30, 2015
Web site: http://www.missionimpossible.com/