Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg
With the IMF now disbanded, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team must operate in the shadows to stop a mysterious organisation known as ‘The Syndicate’ and their attempts to completely change world order through organised terrorism. However to make their mission even more impossible, not only are they on their own, but the CIA is watching their every move in an attempt to arrest Hunt.
Unfortunately we now have to accept the fact that while we have a deeply cynical film industry there will always be films that basically have very little or nothing to do with the franchise title they actually use. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is essentially a Tom Cruise action film, but they have decided to call it a Mission Impossible film as that makes it far more marketable and a guaranteed money maker compared to opting for an original standalone title. A few tweaks with the script and character names are pretty much the difference between this being a Bond film, a Die Hard film, a Bourne film or an instalment of many other franchises.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has a sort of mission keeping the narrative together, but how actually impossible this mission is can certainly be heavily debated and it is certainly more a series of mini missions in what is a very episodic narrative. It does feel at times that the action sequences were written first, and then the story written around them, and the story itself often struggles to hold these individual sequences together, making if often quite hard to follow what is actually going on. However it is probably the case that all involved with the ‘creative’ process do not really know either.
For all its choppy pacing and inevitable plot holes and flaws, the most important question to my mind about Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation boils down to whether it is great fun or not. After all, all the aforementioned problems are of course not only inevitable, but just about forgivable if the film delivers escapist enjoyment, as that is arguably the reason films like this exist. Well, that it certainly does, it is of course completely vacuous and is in my opinion not the best of the franchise, but in terms of both its set pieces and the overall experience, Rogue Nation does deliver in thrills, enjoyment and visual spectacle for a vast majority of its unnecessarily long running time of 130 minutes.
A consistent awareness of never taking things too seriously also helps make Rogue Nation good fun, and there are plenty of effective gags in Christopher McQuarrie’s script. McQuarrie’s direction is also suitably slick and utilises the film’s various locations, even though we have the usual Hollywood cliché of London just being Jack the Ripper era cobbled fog filled streets.
When on top form, Tom Cruise always delivers in my view, and he is his usual charismatic self in Rogue Nation. He obviously enjoys what he does, and this enjoyment always serves to make whatever film he is in that bit more enjoyable, and Rogue Nation is no exception.
Of course this film is all about Tom, but some of the supporting cast also do okay. Simon Pegg has certainly starred in some appalling films recently, but is likeable and funny as the inevitable comic relief. Rebecca Ferguson is also more than just the token female character and is not only the most interesting character by far, she also certainly convinces in her role. Jeremy Renner is his usual dull and boring self and only here because he was in the last one, while Ving Rhames is great fun in his few scenes, even if it doesn’t really involve much acting. As per usual it is the antagonist that is the problem, and Sean Harris’ bad guy is completely forgettable and his supposed back story had potential, but it seems like an afterthought that was made up at the last minute and not thought through at all. Though he could have been better, it is an adversary that matches Cruise and co., and this in itself helps keep the plot engaging and the finale genuinely thrilling.
Tom Cruise seems to be very much the producer on many of his films these days, and Christopher McQuarrie his director of choice, the two seem to get the best out of each other, but at 130 minutes there is definitely an element of both Tom Cruise vanity and narrative ill-discipline and self-indulgence. With more rigorous writing Rogue Nation could have been blockbuster of the year, but it is still without an enjoyable and thrilling ride. Just do not expect to remember why you were thrilled or indeed much of the film about an hour after it has happened.
Despite being a tad bloated, ill-disciplined and with very little connection to its initial self, with an on-form Cruise leading the way, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is suitably bonkers and forgettable, but also incredibly enjoyable, entertaining and often genuinely thrilling big budget nonsense.