Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the latest in the action spy franchise and continues in the tradition of high stakes, tense action, and a motley crew of characters – some of whom you never know which side they’re on. In this latest adventure we join Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise (Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher), in his attempt to stop a plane from taking off with its “package.” Along to help, in a move unique to Rogue Nation, is a team comprised of members from previous movies. Usually Ethan gets a new set of agents with every new mission, but back along for the ride are Benji, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek), and Brandt, Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Hurt Locker), who were both on the team in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Also joining is Luther, Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead, Pulp Fiction), who has, in some capacity, been in every movie in the series so far.
This opening scene is much like those in James Bond movies. It doesn’t have anything directly to do with the main plot, but sets a tone for the rest of the film. That tone here being: “Holy cow there are going to be some nuts-o stunts and some good laughs.” This is totally par for the course. Mission Impossible 3 and 4 are two of the best modern action movies ever made, so this newest installment had some pretty big shoes to fill.
Rogue Nation finds Ethan gaining solid evidence of a global crime network called The Syndicate, which instead of using terrorism to achieve a goal, uses surgical precision to take out targets setting them up to look like accidents – all in the effort to strengthen The Syndicate. Simultaneously Alan Hunley, Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October, Beetlejuice), the chairman of the CIA is demanding the Impossible Mission Force be shut down for its recklessness. Believing The Syndicate to be a figment of Hunt’s imagination, Hunley’s request is granted – IMF is no longer, and Ethan Hunt is now a fugitive for refusing to return to the US and stop hunting down The Syndicate. Benji and Brandt are now both absorbed into the CIA.
We then follow our hero squad around the world as they become fugitives themselves. And proving that The Syndicate is real, while stopping them from destroying the world, is the only way to redeem themselves. The head of The Syndicate is a unnerving man simply called Lane, Sean Harris (Prometheus, Harry Brown). He always seems right on the edge of doing something vicious, but constantly speaks in an unsettling quiet voice. One of his main agents is Isla Faust, badass karate kick-fighter who is playing both sides of the fight, and someone who the team is never sure they can trust.
Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation is a pretty dang good movie. Everything surprisingly still works. The problem, I found was that it just didn’t hit the same highs as the previous two films, which as I stated earlier, I think are as close to perfect as you can get. Lane is a great menacing villain, but he’s no Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the truly terrifying Owen Davien. The stunts are great, including the best motorcycle chase scene since The Matrix Reloaded. And over the top. But they’re nothing compared to the mind-blowing things done in Ghost Protocol. The gadgets were neat, and the funny moments were still funny. But the whole package didn’t have me holding my breath or on the edge of my seat like the others. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun watching it, but the bar had been set pretty high. Simon Pegg really holds his own, and is consistently a highlight in these movies. And just like in the previous ones, Tom Cruise did most of his own stunts. So, knowing that he really held onto that dang plane as it was taking off made everything all the better. A good addition to a great string of movies, one that I wish would have gone a little farther.