Monday, August 6, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION (2015)



Ethan and his team are back, and this time they are hunting down a mysterious terror organization called The Syndicate.  Does that name sound familiar?  Well it should, as that was the mission given to Ethan at the end of Ghost Protocol.  This marks the first time a Mission: Impossible film leads in directly from the previous film, and it's about time.  It’s a true connecting point, and as you see throughout Rogue Nation, the events of Ghost Protocol weigh in heavily here, and that is one of the many things that make this such a great film.

Right away we see that Benji and Brandt are back in action, and they’re joined by none other than Luther Stickell.  That’s right, Ving Rhames is back, and I couldn’t be happier.  However, there’s one glaring omission from the cast, and that’s Paula Patton’s Jane Carter.  She’s nowhere to be found.  I thought maybe she’d pop up later on in the film, but no, she never does, and she’s never even mentioned.  It’s like she never existed.  This film takes place roughly a year after Ghost Protocol, so a lot could have happened, but it’s just odd that both Benji and Brandt are there and no one mentions what happened to Jane.  I can understand if Patton had other obligations that prevented her from appearing in the film, but why not give a quick line of dialogue to explain her absence.  The rotating woman in these films in the one main problem of this series, as they build up some great characters just for them to disappear in the next film.

Rogue Nation starts off with one of Cruise’s biggest stunts in the franchise – hanging off a plane as it takes off.  It’s a fantastic opening sequence that sets the pace for what is to come, a high octane thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Cruise prides himself on doing bigger and better stunts from movie to movie.  Whether it’s the fish tank scene in the first Mission: Impossible, the rock climbing scene in M:I-2, or climbing the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol, these death defying stunts are some of what make these films so amazing to watch.  Cruise’s dedication to make the best entertainment he can with these films is equal to none, and knowing he’s doing these stunts himself make them that much more intense to watch.

But stunts aren’t the only great thing about this movie.  As I said, Rogue Nation introduces us to The Syndicate, a terrorist organization led by an ex-British intelligence officer named Solomon Lane.  Their goal is to take down Ethan and the entire IMF and create a new world order through terrorist attacks and seemingly unlinked “accidents”.  They are a shadowy, behind-the-scenes villain, and their reach is wide spread.  They are a true force to reckon with, and it’s wonderful to see a villain like this in the Mission: Impossible series. They are on the level of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character from M:I-3, only bigger in scope, and that makes them much more dangerous.

And with The Syndicate comes undercover British intelligence agent Ilsa Faust, played by the incredibly talented Rebecca Ferguson.  She shows up in a scene where Ethan is abducted and about to be tortured, but there’s much more to her than meets the eye.  She is probably the most interesting and badass female character in this entire series, so if Paula Patton couldn’t be in this one, at least they brought in a new female character that can hold up to her.  Her ferocity is put on display during the amazing fight scene with her and Tom after she helps him get free.  This is a level of fight choreography that we have never seen in these films.  It’s fast and brutal, yet precise in that brutality.  It’s like a beautiful dance unfolding on screen, and their chemistry is electric.

We spend a good portion of the first half of this movie with Ethan and Benji, and I have to say, they are a fun duo to watch.  These two characters are so different, yet it’s those differences that make them work so well together.  Benji is the brains and Ethan is the brawn, so when they come together, it’s magical.  Just rewatch the opera scene and you'll understand what I'm saying.  We also get to see Brandt and Luther working together, something we haven’t seen yet, as Luther was only in Ghost Protocol for about a minute, but their bickering and stubbornness toward one another makes for a classic odd couple pairing that lends itself to some great humor.

All of the amazingness of this film wouldn’t be possible, though, without the stellar directing work of Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow).  His ability to create fast-paced, edge of your seat action is astounding.  Just look at the vault heist scene.  I was so stressed out watching Tom Cruise hold his breath for so long, especially because this is one of those stunts that he did himself.  I read that he worked with a diving expert and got to a point where he could hold his breath for over six minutes.  That’s insane!  Cruise apparently wound up with nitrogen in his blood, which messed him up for a while.  And then there’s the car chase/motorcycle chase sequence, which was one of the best scenes in the whole film.  It was intense and nerve-wracking, though I do feel like Ethan would have gotten far more injured after those two crashes, if not died. 

So, with a great script, stellar directing work, and some of the best performances of the series, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is definitely the best of series (though that may change after I go see Fallout tonight), and proves that sequels can surpass their predecessor when done well.  And with McQuarrie coming back for the new film, I have all the faith in the world that Fallout will be another great installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise.


The Merc’s Score: 9.5/10 


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