Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is a 2015 American action film starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ving Rhames. Rouge Nation is the fifth film in the series, and, like its admittedly aging leading man, shows no signs of letting up in the slightest.
The first film in the series was an extremely underrated heist film directed by the equally underrated Brian De Palma, very loosely based upon the 1960s television series of the same name. Say what you will about “connections” to the original series, but the film, in my opinion, is pretty darn great. It is a thinking man’s spy film somewhat reminiscent of the Paul Newman and Robert Redford film The Sting. Of course, you can’t talk about the original Mission: Impossible without mentioning the nail biting, completely silent wire hanging scene, which, now that I think about it, was most likely meant as a homage to a French film Le Circle Rogue, but I digress. M:I was rightfully a box office success, and all box office successes need sequels, right?
M:I II was completely different from its predecessor, and not in a good way. Gone was the heisting, and the thinking, replaced with awkward vocalizing, doves, and mildly entertaining, gunfights that unfortunately don’t hold anything even resembling a candle to Chinese director John Woo’s previous film Face/Off or his action movie masterpiece The Killer. These negative factors, coupled with my general dislike of Thandie Newton, culminates in a decidedly bleh film that honestly was not at all deserving of a sequel, and yet…
Six years later in 2006, the Prince of Nerds, the honorable JJ Abrams, directed the pretty great Mission Impossible III. This is where the franchise finally found it’s footing. It was no longer a heist film, it wasn’t… Whatever you want to call #2. It took the vault scene from the first film and turned it up to 11. The Mission: Impossible films, from that point on, went the route of shamelessly entertaining, high octane action flicks with extremely well crafted stunts and genuinely chuckle worthy humor from British comedian and actor Simon Pegg as focal points. Despite Abrams’s annoying habit of keeping his audience in the dark about otherwise important or interesting plot points, III is, for the most part, a supremely entertaining, yet admittedly flawed film bolstered by a surprisingly awesome performance by the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
In 2011, Ghost Protocol came along. I went to go see it in theaters, and though I knew I would end up more or less entertained, I was not expecting the masterclass action film it ended up being. In fact, it was my #3 favorite film that year. It was very predictable plot wise, but you won’t care. If you can walk away from the Burji Kalifa scene (which was an actual, real-life stunt) and say Ghost Protocol was a bad movie, there is something seriously wrong with you.
Finally, we get to Rouge Nation. The latest film in the series is the very definition of entertaining. Apparent newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (I know I have seen her somewhere, dang it!) easily holds her own acting alongside couch-jumping nutjob Tom Cruise and the late-blooming, yet rapidly rising charmer Jeremy Renner. The true showstealer here is the ridiculously awesome stuntwork. Every stunt featured in the film easily tops the Burji Kalifa, which is no easy task. Most notorious is the plane scene featured in all promotional material. Even though it’s at the forefront of all advertisements, the scene itself is no less epic. Literally at the three minute mark, everything just gets better and better from there. From a fully CGI, yet extremely well-done silent underwater scene that is very reminiscent of the wire scene I often mention, a very fun car/motorcycle chase through the City of Morocco, to a jump off the Austrian Opera House, the film keeps you interested and invested the entire time. I don’t remember ever looking away from the screen.
Rouge Nation also improves upon Ghost Protocol in terms of plotline. The film was co-written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, writer of The Usual Suspects, my favorite film of all time. I was worried; despite being an extremely talented writer, his directorial efforts include such films as the source-material-mutilating Jack Reacher, so I was pretty skeptical. Luckily though, thanks to help from Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang mastermind Drew Pearce, McQuarrie has created the apex popcorn movie, a high-octane, non-stop, well acted, intense, almost hypnotic action film that blows most other summer blockbusters out of the water, making Ghost Protocol look like amateur hour. In fact, aside from Mad Max, Rouge Nation is the best film I have seen all summer. I found the action supremely entertaining; Pearce and McQuarrie were also able to deliver some interesting twists and turns similar to the original De Palma film on top of that. The acting is top notch from all involved. Cruise as a person is completely insane, but if that means he will put himself in harms way and for real hang off the side of a moving airplane, exclusively for the enjoyment of the audience, I am not going to complain.
Rouge Nation is possibly the film of the summer, and will most likely remain as one of the most entertaining films of the year. Mad Max can’t be beat and Spectre will most likely be better, but that’s a story for November. If at all possible, go see Rouge Nation, I highly, highly, highly doubt you will be disappointed.