Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review

Christopher McQuarrie
Tom Cruise
Jeremy Renner
Simon Pegg
Ving Rhames
Rebecca Ferguson
Sean Harris
Rated: PG-13

Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt in the fifth installment of the “Mission Impossible” film series and this time, he’s looking for a syndicate of spies that is causing chaos around the world.

It seems like Hunt has met his match with these new enemies, and on top of that, his agency, the IMF, gets shut down for the events of Ghost Protocol (Part 4). This once again leaves Hunt without many resources at his disposal, making the challenge that much greater.

The strength of “Rogue Nation” comes from the same aspect that “Ghost Protocol” used so well. The idea that the protagonist is now practically an enemy of the state and doesn’t know who he can trust. “Rogue Nation” excels at using this concept which once again adds to the suspense due to the level of resourcefulness the heroes have to come up with.

Just as the previous film did, “Rogue Nation” also returns the fantastic action set pieces which includes all the intrigue and espionage a spy fan could ask for. The best part of these mission moments, though, is how scaled back they feel. Instead of having huge amounts of spectacle with special effects, “Rogue Nation” takes a more precise approach with incredible accuracy, having smaller, but very effective scenes.

A prime example of this was a scene in the film where the main characters are at an opera performance as part of their mission. The whole sequence has little to no dialogue, yet it is one of the most suspenseful parts of the film due to how well the camera work and use of music was.

There’s no doubt that the great action set pieces and the character interactions in between were very strong, however, there were a few times it felt like “Rogue Nation” was going on a little too long. The film probably could have benefited from maybe 15 minutes being cut, however this is a rather minor flaw.

There’s not much to say about Cruise in “Rogue Nation” other than the guy knows what he’s doing. At this point, after playing him in four other movies, Cruise has mastered how to play Ethan Hunt, and last year’s sci-fi/thriller “Edge of Tomorrow” showed that the guy understands action. Cruise balances Hunt’s abilities as a super spy while at the same time still showing at times that he’s human, which is what makes his character compelling here just as it’s done in the past.

The supporting cast returning from previous installments was great, too. Best of all is likely Renner, who joined the franchise in the fourth installment. What’s great about Renner and the way he plays his character is his cautious optimism around Hunt. Both are great spies and have a lot of knowledge with usually the same goals, but they don’t always see eye-to-eye. It adds a level of tension and makes the film more interesting to watch when they interact.

On the opposite side of Renner’s spectrum is Pegg, who returns as tech genius Benji. Pegg proved himself as a great comic relief character in previous installments and “Rogue Nation” is no different. When he needs to deliver some humor it hits, when he needs to be serious, it works.

Then of course there’s Rhames, a staple of the series who gets to do some great stuff here after having been sidelined for a lot of “Ghost Protocol.”

In terms of characters, the only ones that were hit or miss were the newcomers. For example, Rebecca Ferguson, who plays one of the new spies helping out the main gang, is really good as an operative who is in a bit too deep.

At the same time, there’s Sean Harris, who plays the villain Lane, who unfortunately, was a bit forgettable. There’s no doubt that Harris gave the bad guy a menacing persona, but there just wasn’t anything memorable about his screen presence. Once again, the gold standard for “Mission Impossible” villains is Philip Seymour Hoffman from part 3.

Despite a weaker villain character, one aspect that saves this section of the picture is the overall scheme that Lane has. Without giving anything away, the villain plan is rather clever and creates a real threat for the heroes to stop.

Overall, “Rogue Nation” offers everything one could ask for from a summer spy flick. The gadgets, vehicles, disguises, hacking skills, and combat choreography are all here. Backing that up were some strong acting and solid direction. Sure, it has some flaws, but they are very minor that this film can still be considered likely the best summer action film of 2015. High 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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