Just walked out of the theater thinking to myself: has the Mission Impossible series been the secretly best series of films in recent memory? I ask because they tend to not stick in public consciousness, at least not in my parts of the internet. And yet, every time a new entry pops up, critics gush over them. And then we hear the same beats: namely how risky the stunts were, how confusing the plot was, and as always how Tom Cruise has risen from the ashes. Thing is, Tom Cruise has never gone anywhere. He always delivers. Rogue Nation is just more of the same, which sounds like a bad thing but is entirely the opposite.
That’s what’s most impressive about the film: how Tom Cruise fucking delivers as pure spectacle, whether it be dangling from the side of a plane or riding a motorcycle as he blasts around a curvy highway. His going all in and performing, this feel anachronistic. Yes, the film has CGI, but it takes backseat to the live action, and boy does the live action deliver.
But on top of the action is the sense of fun and humour that the film exudes. Simon Pegg, Ethan Hunt’s nerdy ally, breathes an air of relief into a franchise that could have easily become full of itself. But in the hands of Christopher McQuarrie, the co-writer and director, the film feels fresh, dare I say rejuvenated. For a fifth entry into a twenty year old series, that’s no small feat. As it stands, I wish more studios gave a shit and put as much energy and care into their cash grabbing franchises.
But it’s not just the director that lifts this film. The cast is top notch, each actor delivering a solid performance. Rebecca Ferguson really shines as British agent posing as an agent for the terrorist organization known as the syndicate. She could have easily played a thankless role as the attractive ally to the protagonist, but here is allowed to be an equal to Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Ferguson is great in the way she smirks and lands a blow against the bad guys. Yes, she’s sexy, but she’s also smart and engaging. And for a franchise that shares ties to the James Bond series, it’s so rewarding for her not to bang our hero.
The only actor that I felt was off was Sean Harris, who plays the big bad Lane. If you’re going to play up how evil and powerful a villain is, you need to have an engaging actor that carries that intimidation. Heath Ledger’s Joker comes to mind. Harris’s performance isn’t bad, but isn’t commanding or all that intimidating. He speaks with a hushed voice that reminded me of Eddie Redmayne’s character in Jupiter Ascending. I wasn’t convinced that he was supposed to be the evil genius who’s always one step ahead of Hunt.
I read that McQuarrie took inspiration from The Dark Knight in regards to the plot, and it should come as no surprise that there’s moments in the film that made me go “Huh?” I kept asking how character’s knew where the villain was, or how character’s knew other characters. But these are minor complaints. As I like to say, when watching a movie, throw logic out the window and get lost in the joy of the narrative. And really, this film is a joy.