Benji Dunn, Cinema, Ethan Hunt, Film, Jeremy Renner, Mission Impossible, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Movie Review, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Simon Pegg, Spy Movies, The Syndicate, Tom Cruise
“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” is short on surprise but filled with spectacle. It’s a film which shamelessly utilises as many spy movie tropes as possible, but it manages to remain interesting because the actors are always fully committed to their roles, particularly Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson who really excel in action sequences. Although “Rogue Nation” isn’t an extraordinary movie, it’s constantly engaging and a great popcorn flick.
The film revolves around Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he attempts to bring down the Syndicate, an organisation made up of highly skilled former intelligence operatives who are presumed missing or dead. The Syndicate is intent on bringing down the established order by executing a series of terrorist attacks, and with the IMF disbanded and the CIA believing Hunt to be a paranoid rogue agent, only he is working to stop them (until he enlists Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) as his comic-relief sidekick).
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of “Rogue Nation” is its action set pieces, which are made all the more exciting by the fact that Tom Cruise is publicly reported to have done the majority of his stunts. These sequences are well choreographed and pulsating, particularly one which takes place at the Vienna Opera. These scenes are a beautiful marriage of music, misdirection, and suspense, and they are perfectly executed as we follow Hunt’s exploits and share in his confusion.
One of the biggest issues I had with this movie is that throughout its run time I could telegraph what would happen next, because I’ve seen it all many times before in slightly different skins. Furthermore, the stakes don’t feel that high when you have actors like Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner occupying lead roles, as it’s unlikely that anyone involved with the franchise would be willing to kill off characters played by such high profile actors.
However, the movie did a good job of creating a sense of urgency despite this issue by putting Ilsa Foust (Rebecca Ferguson) in constant danger. (SPOILER ALERT) Foust is a double agent working for the British government in an attempt to gain intel on Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the head of the Syndicate, and as a result she finds her loyalty questioned on a number of occasions. Because Foust is a newcomer to the series it’s entirely possible that she could die, and because Ferguson is so likeable in the role I really didn’t want that to happen, which kept me invested in the movie. Ferguson was probably the best thing about “Rogue Nation”, as she gave the audience another action hero to route for other than Tom Cruise and matched his intensity in action sequences.
Of course, this film still suffers from clichés that plague the genre. For the most part it embraces these tropes and tries to make the most of them, but at times they are frustrating – one example of a trope that this movie utilises positively is having its hero (Hunt) almost die on various occasions, only to have another character save him at the last second. This could be really annoying, but because “Rogue Nation” has a good sense of humour it follows up with a joke (usually delivered by Simon Pegg) which keeps the audience from letting out a collective sigh. However, the fact that the bad guys are incredibly bad shots and that luck saves the leading man more than his own expertise is still infuriating, because there’s no need for this to be the case. Nobody is endeared by the villain of the piece missing an easy shot from five yards away, this only serves to take anyone paying attention out of the movie – if you want your hero to survive against the odds then keep guns out of the equation, because a former British service agent knows how to aim down sights.
A final issue I had with “Rogue Nation” is that it tailed off towards the end. The action set pieces gave way to typical spy movie nonsense in the last half an hour; with masks, memorised number sequences, and an obligatory hero-faces-off-against-villain fight ensuing. This is where the movie starts to fall apart for me, because the details become ropey and the quality of the film plummets. Nevertheless, the filmmakers did enough with the preceding hour and a half to make me somewhat less critical of this finale than I might like to be, because there are three or four genuinely fantastic action sequences from that large chunk of the movie, and at the end of the day they are the moments that I’m going to remember.
So, this film might not be perfect but it’s definitely entertaining. It’s a typical spy movie in terms of story and style, but it elevates itself above the rest by going all out on the action and having a fully committed leading man. On top of that, supporting cast members such as Rebecca Ferguson and Simon Pegg are excellent, and “Rogue Nation” has a great sense of humour. If you like spy movies you will enjoy this film, and if you don’t you won’t find it insufferable, but it isn’t going to change your view of the genre.