I know this is a little delayed but I had to mull this over before making this claim: Rogue Nation is the best Mission Impossible yet. I know that seems like a bit much (especially for the 5th entry into a series—4th if you’re like me and don’t admit MI:II exists) but it is.
This one finds the IMF about to be dismantled by CIA Director Alec Baldwin (say what you will about Alec’s intelligence and sanity—or lack thereof—in real life, this man is a great actor who always turns in great performances, even in small roles, this is no exception) which puts a slight hamper into Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) attempt to take down the shadowy Syndicate which we heard about at the end of the Ghost Protocol. The Syndicate is an organization composed of a bunch of spies who were all listed as missing or dead, it is your typical bunch of deluded lunatics who think they can do better than the people who used to give them orders, and if you have to kill a few million innocents to make the world a better place well insert villain speech about omelets (luckily the movie actually respects your intelligence and skips over most of this because it just accepts you know the that story from seeing it before). What you do see is Hunt occasionally screw up and need to be rescued, you see situations where putting on the now near trademark Scooby Doo mask does not solve every problem…but you still have the mix of crisp action and witty banter that has come to define Mission Impossible.
One of the really nice things is that most of the trailer comes from the first act of the film so the best parts of the film are not spoiled. And that does restrict what I can say as well, because I don’t want to spoil the joy of trying to figure out where loyalties lies in this film. But I will say that the action is actually comprehensible, the dialogue is a delight and the characters are perhaps the most well rounded they’ve ever been in a Mission Impossible film.
One of the things I really think made this film stand out is that unlike every other film where Hunt is working with just a whole new cast of back up characters, this was the first time where the majority of his team were characters we had see from previous films, and it led to a lot more concern for the characters. Also even though the characters of Luthor (Ving Rhames) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) are one’s we know this was the first time they have ever worked together and seeing their banter and bickering was a high point of the film’s levity.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the Opera House fight. Now this scene on its own was one of the best in recent memory but what made it even better was it was a sly comment to critics. This fight, a part of the first act involves among other things Cruise fighting against a Nordic looking, six-foot plus slab of muscle…and of course winning. About half way through watching the fight I realized what this was…the writer/director for Rogue Nation is the same writer director for Cruise’s previous film Jack Reacher, where he took a lot of flack from shallow fans who were unhappy that blonde haired blue eyed six-foot plus slab of muscle Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s books was filled by the much smaller Cruise (even though Child himself said that the size of the character was a shorthand for his power and strength, which an actor like Cruise who does all his own stunts can easily convey without the size)…so this fight is basically Cruise taking down with some clear finality the kind of actor that some of the whinier fans wanted. It was a clever ‘up yours’ to the critics.
Of the flaws, and they were few and far between, I was a little disappointed that Jeremy Renner did not have a larger part in this film, as he did such an excellent job stealing the show in Age of Ultron.
Final Grade A-