By Kenneth Shipp
Twice this summer, a fourth installment or higher film turned out to be very good (Mad Max and Jurassic Park). Would there be a third? Turns out the answer is….
Yes. A resounding yes. Cruise, who has been having a career resurgence with the previous MI entry, Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher, and Edge of Tomorrow (I really liked Oblivion even though the plot became super predictable and dull) leads a great cast in Rogue Nation, a more direct follow-up to Protocol. Usually, with the exception of Ving Rhames (who always does just enough in these movies, neither bad or good, just acceptable) Cruise was the only consistent member of this franchise. With MI:3, they added Simon Pegg in a limited role, but upped that in Ghost Protocol, where we also received Jeremy Renner (as a umm….desk analyst, I’ll get to that in a minute).
This team feels good, like they have been working well for a long time, on and off-screen. I’d like for them to add a permanent female lead though. The previous female lead, Paula Patton, did a decent job and now in this film, we get another strong lead in Rebecca Ferguson. She really knocked her material out of the park and saved Ethan’s butt a multitude of times in this film. If she comes back for MI:6, I will not be disappointed.
The plot to this film, with the exception of the closure of IMF for the hundredth time and one minor contrivance, was spot on. I was engaged the entire time and loved what they were putting forth. They really put some effort and thought into this one and it shows in the finished product. I wasn’t expecting it to do well considering Brad Bird wasn’t at the helm. This time, we received Christopher McQuarrie, who’s previous work centers more on screenwriting. When I looked up what he’s been apart of (Usual Suspects, Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher), I’m not surprised at how intelligent and crafted this script was. My only frustration was the same issue facing the IMF as there is in every MI film: disobey authority, run our own ops. This plot device is getting old, but it’s honestly placed in every spy flick ever so it’s almost rude not to have it. I’d like to see a film where they actually manage to work within the rules or their command. Wait, that might be boring, I take that back. More rogue abandon and rule breaking please.
Two things that will stand out to you in this film: Rebecca Ferguson and the special effects (The name of my next pop band)
Ferguson steals the show every scene she is in and while the script allows her to do it, she didn’t hesitate to take it. I like Cruise, but when Ferguson’s talking, I’m definitely more intrigued at trying to figure out what her angle and motivation is. Hunt’s story isn’t really advanced much in this film like it was in Protocol. Ferguson’s arc is center stage, driving the current issue even when we really think it’s more about the anti-IMF group or Hunt’s run from the CIA. Again, if they are smart and are looking to add a strong female lead to their group, I think they’ve found her.
The majority of the promotional material for MI:5 revolved around the stunts being real. And wow, these did not disappoint. There were two scenes where I really noticed the CGI, and I was only slightly disappointed by one them. It was actually distracting after getting so much of film shot in a beautiful way with minimal extra touches. The plane scene is still very tense even after watching it a bunch of times on promos and teasers. The practical stunts helped keep a constant feeling of tension the entire time. I think that tension along with the desperate search taking place in the story were a great mixture.
The villain, while still a typical spy thriller villain, was definitely more interesting than what’s his name from MI 2 or 4. I’m not sure where Sean Harris will rank with Jon Voight or Hoffman in this series, but he should definitely be considered. Harris did enough to make me uncomfortable when he was on-screen and his character was interesting enough because of how many times he one-upped Hunt.
My only complaint isn’t really with the movie, but with the way Jeremy Renner has been used overall. I’ve seen this actor do more and having him barely placed as Hunt’s sidekick is kind of annoying. It made sense in Protocol, but I already had a hard time buying him as the office liaison so continuing it this film still feels weak. I suppose expanding his role may take away from Cruise so I get it. But surely someone in Hollywood could create a MI spin-off or rip-off and get this guy his own film. (Just ignore Bourne Legacy and everything will be alright.)
This summer hasn’t failed us with what it’s been bringing. This is one of the few exceptions to my ever growing contempt for summer blockbusters. If every film this summer hit the same benchmarks like Rogue Nation, I could delete my next few articles utterly trashing their name.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: 9 out of 10