Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Focuses On Team Dynamics And Is Better For It
Title: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenwriter: Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay and story), Drew Pearce (story), and Bruce Geller (television series)
Principal Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, and Simon McBurney
Summary: Ethan and the 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.
It was not until after I saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation that I went back and watched all of the Mission Impossible movies again. I remembered Ghost Protocol quite clearly, but I couldn’t remember a lot about the first three and I was wondering how they held up. I know there were plenty of people that weren’t fond of the new direction after Ghost Protocol but I’m quite fond of it. The movies seemed to be going in a much more “team focused” direction than the original trilogy which was more about “one man versus everyone else” that I find tiresome. Rogue Nation, however, fell into a rather large list of movies that I kept forgetting was coming out and, in reality, how good could a fifth installment of any series actually be?
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is not only a very good movie it might be one of my favorite movies of the summer and the series.
I’m going to be completely honest about something; I have almost zero interest in Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as a character. In fact I would say he’s probably the least interesting aspect of the entire operation and also unintentionally hilarious. While everyone else in the movie seems to have evolved to a level of self awareness that turns good action movies into great ones, Ethan continues to walk around like the most serious person in the world. When he stands next to characters like Benji (Simon Pegg) or series MVP Luthor (Ving Rhames) he looks ridiculous in an almost endearing kind of way. I watched Ghost Protocol entirely for the supporting cast and I went into Rogue Nation with the same thoughts. I just find the rest of the team much more interesting than Ethan himself.
There is also the fact that Tom Cruise has apparently gone completely insane and decided that stunt men aren’t a thing anymore. There is a scene at the beginning, prominently featured in the marketing, of Cruise hanging off the side of a plane. There is no CGI involved in that scene; that is one of the last true movie stars of this generation hanging off the edge of a plane because no one tells Tom Cruise “no” anymore. Much like the other great action movie of the summer, Mad Max: Fury Road, the lack of CGI and practical stunts means that Rogue Nation has some truly great action scenes.
The movie isn’t perfect. The latter Mission Impossible movies seem to have some great women of color and I was genuinely sad to see Paul Patton’s Jane Carter not return for this installment like the rest of the cast. Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is a good character that kicks quite a bit of butt, but aside from being the “maybe bad guy” that exists in all of these movies there isn’t that much to her. I did appreciate that she had a lot of agency in this movie and she was never put in a “damsel in distress” situation. Aside from her there is a lack of women on the team which I found annoying considering there wasn’t a reason there wasn’t one. Our villain, Lane (Sean Harris), doesn’t get much in the way of development, but I was much more interested in evolving team dynamics than motivation for this bad guy. Team dynamics are one of my favorite parts of movies like this.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation didn’t have to be a good movie. It could have gotten by on the name “Mission Impossible” and probably made a decent amount of money. However, thanks to a tight script with large dialogue by director/writer Christopher McQuarrie and writer Drew Pearce and a reliance on practical effects, we get one of the, if not the, best entries in the series. Absolutely worth a look.