Mission Impossible has had one of the more interesting timelines in franchise film history. Originally released in 1996, Mission Impossible, a feature length adaptation of the original 60’s TV series, starring A-list megastar Tom Cruise, Jon Voight & Ving Rhames and directed by Brian De Palma, was a huge success that only made Tom Cruise’s stardom blow up even further. John Woo took a crack at it 5 years later with the hilariously abbreviated M-I:2. With minor critical love, but massive box office, JJ Abrams took his shot with the wonderfully entertaining (thanks to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s amazing turn as the villian), Mission Impossible 3 was the jumpstart the series needed again and with Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, critical reception and audiences were sky-high with the film becoming a massive success (although I can’t say I’m a big fan of the film). Following Tom Cruise’s disappointing box office returns for his more recent blockbusters, Oblivion and the critically acclaimed Edge of Tomorrow (which I loved), the last Mission Impossible seems like Cruise’s last chance to show that he still has the box office draw studios hope he has. But how does the movie itself hold up?
If Mission Impossible has ever been anything, it’s been a showcase for how dedicated Cruise is to his love for stunts. Ghost Protocol had him hanging from the tallest building in Abu Daibi (which I feel is why the film has it’s critical praise, but enough about the bland Ghost Protocol), Rogue Nation shows how he’s still dedicated to his craft and death defying stunts. But thanks to Christopher McQuarrie’s assured direction and the help from its ensemble cast (especially newcomer, Rebecca Ferguson), Rogue Nation is the best film of the series yet.
What has made the Mission Impossible movies so interesting is how every director adds their stamp to it. McQuarrie knows that the series is based around the ensemble and action sequences and they are on focus here. Despite the fact that Cruise, Ferguson, and Simon Pegg are the only actors that are really given scenes of action (that are incredibly directed and choreographed), everyone else gets something to work with, even making the scenes where two people are talking become humorous and fun to watch, something that hasn’t exactly been a highlight for the series.
If everyone was worried that Rogue Nation wouldn’t be able to top the insane Burj Khalifa sequence from Ghost Protocol, well they don’t really. But from a plane lifting Cruise very high in the air as he hangs on the side to an underwater sequence, the movie tries its very best to keep your entertained, and it does just that. It entertains, no more, no less. And that might be its problem. The film truly has no ambition aside from being a night at the movies. And while I can’t really fault it for setting out to be entertaining and meeting that goal, but I hoped that at this point there would be someone trying to push the boundaries of this franchise.
Back to characters, if there’s ever been a big problem with these movies, it’s that the villians have been boring. The aforementioned Voight, and Hoffman have been very entertaining and threatening, but even Rogue Nation can’t break the spell. And there was the great Sean Harris as the treacherous head of The Syndicate. He’s given nothing to do, but mumble and make a tense face. He can do more than just that, but the film doesn’t bother to write a decent role for him. But Ferguson gets the role as the tough as nails, Elsa Faust (the best name). She is this movies new character and she is incredibly entertaining, showing her ability to outact Cruise and do just as good a job at kicking some ass. Hopefully we get to see some more of her, cause she’s a delight.
While I may hound Rogue Nation as being slight and by the numbers, it works incredibly well as the actioner we want and expect it to be. Perhaps a little overlong by about ten minutes, I can’t say I didn’t have plenty of fun with the movie, and you probably will too. Turn your brain off for a couple hours and enjoy.