"Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation" (2015)- Movie Review

Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Co-Written by Drew Pearce and Bruce Geller
Starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson

‘Highly Exciting Entertainment’

If you’re looking for fun pop-corn entertainment this Summer Season, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” is as good as it gets. Exciting, gripping and packed with thrills from start to finish, this is a consistently entertaining film that brings back the money-making franchise after a 4 year hiatus. It’s been four years since we last saw Tom Cruise dangling on the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol”. It was a jaw-dropping stunt that stands today as one of the most memorable action scenes ever put to film. What in the world could top an action-sequence as exciting as that?

When I first saw this scene on the big-screen, I was certain that there was no way it could be matched in scale or scope. This groundbreaking stunt set the bar so high for action movies that topping it seemed like a mission that would be impossible. Yet, maybe we were underestimating the talent of Tom Cruise, because with the latest addition to the franchise, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation”, the movie-star has outdone himself. As if hanging on the side of the tallest building in the world wasn’t impressive enough, in this film he takes the franchise to another level. In this movie, alone, Cruise does the following: hang onto a plane by his fingers as it takes flight, hold his breath underwater for over 6 minutes, and take part in a motorcycle chase without wearing a helmet or safety gear. Although these may be the most life-threatening stunts that the actor has performed in his career thus far, they set the stage for mind-blowing action sequences. Overall, the result is a thoroughly entertaining Summer blockbuster that is filled with nail-biting thrills from start to finish.

While there’s no denying the popularity of Tom Cruise as a movie-star, I didn’t expect this film to be as awesome as it turned out. On the contrary, my expectations were initially at the bottom of the barrel. If you’ve been following this franchise for a long time, you may be able to guess the reason why: at 20 years it’s gotten old. As fun as it is to watch Tom Cruise take on fifty bad guys at once, it’s a premise that has long lost steam. Count in the fact that Cruise is now in his 50’s, and the idea of him playing an action-hero seemed rather far-fetched. Surprisingly, however, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” not only met but exceeded my expectations. Bringing together an A-list cast of seasoned actors, breathtaking action sequences and sense of ‘fun’ that movie-goers relish during Summer season, Tom Cruise has returned to prove that- even in spite of his age- he hasn’t lost the ability to entertain.

Reprising the iconic role of agent Ethan Hunt for the fifth time, Cruise faces his most dangerous mission yet in this latest installment of the series. Picking up after the events of “Ghost Protocol”, the previous installment in this franchise, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” follows Ethan and his team as they struggle to survive in a world that wants them dead. This time around, the threat is a highly skilled organization known as ‘the Syndicate’. In order to save his spy agency, Ethan Hunt must use the help of his team to destroy this organization before it’s too late.

As the stakes are raised higher than ever before, the team sets out on a mission across the globe. Among the locations that are visited include Austria, Morocco and England, three vastly different countries in the world. In an action-movie, the locations rarely ever stand out. Instead, it’s usually the muscular hero, menacing bad guy and action sequences that leave a lasting impression with audiences. Although “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” offers each of these traditional elements that we come to expect from the typical action film, it also makes great use of locations. Whether it’s the desert landscapes of Morocco or the elaborate Opera in Vienna, each of these locations hook you into the story from the first minute and don’t let go until the last.

If there’s anyone who knows how to expertly craft an action-sequence using these locations, it’s director Christopher McQuarrie. Like a kid that cannot wait to play his favorite video-games, this filmmaker creates the most exciting action set-pieces that audiences will witness this year at the movies. Teaming up with Tom Cruise for their second collaboration, after 2012’s “Jack Reacher”, McQuarrie amps up the action of the “Mission Impossible” series to another level. Not only does he smartly use locations to enhance the action, but he also manages to improve upon the previous installment in this franchise, 2011’s “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol”. While that film had undeniable entertainment-value, it’s action wasn’t consistently gripping from start to finish. The Dubai sequence was the only action scene that came across as memorable. In contrast, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” offers various action set-pieces that keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the running time.

In a film that offers five spectacular action sequences, it’s hard to pick a single stunt that stands out. Everyone can’t get over the opening scene, which involves Tom Cruise grappling onto the outside of a plane with bare hands, but surprisingly it’s not the most memorable piece of action in the film. Instead, the most impressive action sequence that “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” has to offer is an underwater scene that is in equal measure both frightening and suspenseful. Taking place in a water tank, it’s the only action sequence in the entire film where Tom Cruise doesn’t have the help of his team. On his own underwater for more than 6 minutes, his life is literally put on the line. Adding an extra level of suspense and tension to this scene is the fact that Cruise himself held his breath underwater for that long. It’s the most intense action sequence that I’ve seen in a movie in a very long time.

In terms of acting, the entire ensemble is at the top of its game. Although Cruise’s enthusiastic commitment has always been the major highlight of these films, director Christopher McQuarrie also gives the rest of the actors in the cast the chance to leaving a lasting impression. It’s an approach that works splendidly, allowing actors that may have been shortchanged in previous installments to up their game in this film.

Simon Pegg, for instance, delivers his funniest performance so far in the series as Ethan Hunt’s goofy sidekick, Benji. Providing comical relief, persona and laugh-out-loud jokes, Pegg hasn’t been this hilarious to watch since 2013’s “The World’s End”. While the actor may have been given little to do in “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol”, the previous installment, here he projects an energetic presence that is hard to ignore. Another standout is Jeremy Renner, one of those actors who keeps raising the bar with each film he appears in. So far, 2015 has been quite a year for Renner with his scene-stealing turn in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and now this. Although he has a smaller role in this film, it’s worth noting that the actor has come a long way since 2008’s “The Hurt Locker”, the movie which catapulted him into stardom.

Although these actors are a joy to watch, ultimately the most memorable standout in the ensemble cast is Rebecca Ferguson. A newcomer actress with an intense presence, she steals the show as one of the strongest female characters of the year: a fearless woman that doesn’t need a hero to save her life. In most action-movies today, the one and only role of women is to be the love interest of the hero, nothing more. In this sense, it’s refreshing to come across an actress who is not only attractive in appearance but also the kind of woman nobody would dare mess with.

Aside from bringing out the best in this talented cast, director Christopher McQuarrie also knows how to pace a film perfectly. Most action movies these days start off with a bang, but lose steam towards the end. “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation”, however, is an exception. This is one of those rare action blockbusters that is gripping from start to finish without a single dull moment. I only wish every Summer blockbuster could be as entertaining as this one.

Yet, despite it’s undeniable entertainment-value, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” is not quite the home run that critics and audiences have been making it out to be. If there’s one minor problem with this film that makes it fall short of greatness, it’s that the villain is rather forgettable. As of late, it’s become a trend for action-movies to have slimy and creepy looking bad guys that are always one step ahead of the hero. That basically sums up the problem with the villain in this blockbuster. Although Sean Harris is a suitable choice for the role, perhaps casting a more seasoned actor as the bad-guy such as Christoph Waltz or Michael Fassbender would have taken the film to another level.

In the long run, though, this is only a minor gripe with what is without a doubt one of the best movies of the year. When take into consideration an exciting, heart-pounding soundtrack that has become the trademark of the franchise, plenty of twists and turns and Tom Cruise’s extreme dedication to his role, this is a roller-coaster ride that lives up to the hype. So, do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on the most exciting movie-going experience of the year.

The bottom line is if you don’t enjoy “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation”, then entertaining you is a mission that may be impossible.

4.5/5 stars

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