The most jaw dropping scene in the trailer for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is the shot where Tom Cruise – aka Ethan Hunt but let’s face it, who actually remembers the names of the characters Tom Cruise plays – is hanging from the outside of a plane as it takes off. The camera angle is perfectly positioned to show the ground getting smaller and smaller. You can also tell it is Tom Cruise hanging on for dear life. Keep in mind that Cruise is no pussy. This stunt wasn’t created by fans and a green screen. Cruise was actually dangling from a plane as it was taking off. And SPOILER ALERT, this is the scene that the film opens with. Watching it I thought to myself that the filmmakers were either blowing their load early or they had some crazy intense stuff planned for us. Not only can I enthusiastically report that it is the latter, I can also jump up and say Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is the best Mission: Impossible film ever, the best film of the summer, the best film of the year so far, and as exciting as any spy thriller you’ve ever seen . This movie is fucking awesome! Bond, Katniss, Chewie, you all better bring your A+ game because Ethan Hunt has left you in the dust. You too Jason Bourne.
Say what you want about Tom Cruise’s personal life, but as a movie star, there is no actor currently working today who is more dedicated to their craft and their willingness to do things properly for the sake of giving the audience a great experience. Every action sequence in this film has been meticulously crafted, shot with the best possible angles, and edited with precision. Cruise goes from hanging on to a plane to crashing cars to riding motorcycles alongside cliffs then through busy highways. As Mad Max: Fury Road proved earlier this year, nothing beats practical effects and Rogue Nation showcases some of the best on set stunt work I’ve seen since, well, Mad Max: Fury Road. Yeah, that movie just had to come out in the same year. Also worthy of note is that Tom Cruise is 53, and I’ve seen 22 year old bodybuilders more out of shape than Cruise is now in his 50s.
Okay, enough stroking Tom Cruise’s ego. He’s awesome in this movie, but so is everything and everyone else. Ving Rhames is back as Luther, and FINALLY, he has a crucial role in the plot. He gets a lot of screen time. So does Simon Pegg. Pegg is such an underrated actor. He’s not only perfect comic relief in Rogue Nation, he has some intense dramatic scenes where he stands his ground against Cruise and the rest of the cast. Jeremy Renner continues to be awesome and the fact that he’s part of three major franchises – Jason Bourne, The Avengers, and Mission: Impossible – yet there are very little similarities between the characters he plays is a testament that an Oscar win for this guy is inevitable. Alec Baldwin is a great new addition as the CIA commander trying to disband the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) and brand Hunt and his team as enemies of the state. The Mission: Impossible girl this time around, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is a cross between a femme fatale and absolute total bad ass. You are never sure which side this girl is on, which means you’re always watching what she’s doing and what she’s saying. Ferguson doesn’t just hold a gun and look pretty. Her character gets right into the thick of everything, jumping in to save Ethan when she sees he needs help, or stabbing a guy right through the heart without any remorse. And Ferguson plays Ilsa with so much charisma I seriously hope she comes back in another sequel.
Up to this point, Mission: Impossible 3 was the only film in the series where I felt that the villain posed an actual threat to Ethan Hunt and the IMF. But Rogue Nation follows a group of terrorists or rogue agents called The Syndicate. This was teased at the end of Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation picks up a year after Hunt has been trying to locate and reveal this organization. But just like SPECTRE or Hydra, The Syndicate is too well hidden to be drawn out by bait. They operate completely off the grid, headed by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who is not only intelligent, manipulative, and a cold-blooded murderer, he is every bit Ethan Hunt’s equal. You’re never sure if Ethan Hunt’s brilliant ideas were already anticipated by Lane throughout the entire movie. The film also does a great job at showing how widespread The Syndicate has become, forcing Hunt to travel all over the world from London to Morocco to China and beyond.
If you must know the plot or the premise, I’m deliberately keeping it simple. Essentially, Ethan Hunt has been branded a fugitive because the CIA has officially disavowed the IMF. Hunt refuses to come in and decides to take on The Syndicate with just his teammates and Ilsa, who may or may not be an undercover operative. This is a great setting for every awesome action scene you’ve seen in a spy movie. But Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation has managed to perfect these sequences and then blend them in with a story that takes time to build suspense, mystery, and even add a lot of humour. As intense as this movie is, it always tows the line of parody because it is completely aware of itself and its own implausibility. However, not once do you feel the film is tonally disjointed. The humour adds to the experience, which is due to the talent in front and behind the camera.
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, who along with Bryan Singer broke into the mainstream with The Usual Suspects, has frequently collaborated with Cruise, most recently with Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher, and Valkyrie. His third directorial feature has him working at the top of his game. You can see where he draws his influences – Bryan Singer’s ability to reveal information to the audience at the right time, Doug Liman’s staging of gritty yet coherent action, Sergio Leone’s intense close ups, and even Brad Bird’s knack for visual creativity – but he channels them through his own style and sensibilities. Mission: Impossible has found its cast and its filmmaking talent. And with a sixth installment underway, this franchise has only gotten better. I rarely see the same movie twice in the same weekend (I think the last time I did such a thing was for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), but I will definitely be doing that for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.