Rogue Nation delivers what the audience wants and reinvigorates a franchise whose viability is in question.
The 5th Mission Impossible takes all the greatest hits from the previous movies and packs them in a lean spy-thriller plot. The movie’s shifting alliances are reminiscent of the 90’s original by Bryan De Palma. Action scenes are inspired by John Woo. Action set pieces follow the pattern of Bryan Bird’s heart-thumping work from Ghost Protocol.
Thanks to McQuarrie’s purposeful direction Rogue Nation is a fun amusement ride with amusing twists and turns. He presents typical situations that you would expect from this kind of films – such as an assassination in the opera and a heist in an underground facility – in an unconventional yet suspenseful way that makes it memorable.
Tom Cruise, even at 53, still has his megastar charisma. Simon Pegg’s character is expanded and provides the needed comic relief. The rest of the team is sidelined, but cool new additions are introduced. Alec Baldwin manages to pull off the most ridiculous line in the franchise so far – Ethan Hunt is the man of destiny! The movies make a nod to Tinker Tailor, Spy by adding Simon McBurney.
However, it’s the newly designated femme fatale that outshines the rest of the cast. Ilsa Faust is a rare fleshed-out female character who adds the emotional stakes to a technical movie. She isn’t the predictable foil or love interest. She is given her own motivation, agency, and a badass fight scene. Rebecca Ferguson is a perfect fit for the mysterious capable agent who knows when to take off her heels.
Setting these components aside, it’s obvious that Rogue Nation follows the same routine. Ethan and Co. are on their own again, fighting the secret big bad with vague motivations but clear intentions. Lists are stolen and identities are switched.
But you can’t deny that the movie works. Tom Cruise understands perfectly what his purpose is and what the franchise stands for.
In the end, the movie parallels its own theme. How long will Hunt keep gambling his life in the face of never-ending villains? How long will Cruise keep gambling his aging charisma by making the same reiteration of a movie?
For now, Rogue Nation proves that the franchise can still deliver what it has always done – ridiculously staged but fun action films with a charismatic lead.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Thanks to a new cast, old school spy thriller thrills, and purposeful direction, Mission Impossible still delivers with Rogue Nation.