Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation
There aren’t many things more difficult than breaking into an underwater computer security system. Leaving the movie theater knowing exactly what happened in the fifth Mission Impossible is one of them. For every genuine thrill the movie has, it packs a cringe-worthy cliché or plot twist into its overlong script. The movie excels when Tom Cruise pulls off one of his many mind-bending stunts. But when anything else is happening, mission abort.
The film blasts off the runway with one of its best scenes – Cruise hanging on for dear life outside of a plane as it takes off. Director Christopher McQuarrie knows this is the meat and bones of Mission Impossible movies. The scene is as exhilarating for the audience as it must have been for Cruise – the camera angle and roaring sound effects had me clenching my fists in my seat. There is, after all, a reason Mission Impossible is so well known.
The film’s first half plods after that. We go through the mandatory exposition – Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is out to prove the existence of a crime organization known as Syndicate, which of course makes him their primary target. After the rest of the Impossible Mission Force abandons him, Hunt has to rely on his tight group of superspy friends to bring down Syndicate (which is almost exactly the plot of the previous movie, if anyone noticed).
There’s a surplus of impressive set pieces and action sequences, ranging from a bizarre four-way shoot off backstage at the opera, to the aforementioned underwater computer security tank. The latter is the film’s best scene, plunging Cruise into a claustrophobic, inescapable whirlpool within an underwater sphere without any breathing equipment. Once again, McQuarrie displays an uncanny ability to make the audience feel like they’re carrying out the stunt with Cruise. More than once I held my breath.
Action scenes of this caliber can normally be forgiven for being surrounded by a weaker script. The problem with this movie is that it has no clue just how terrible the script is. Every attempt at a plot twist – of which there is probably a dozen – is either too cliché to even be the tasty side of cheesy, or too out-of-nowhere to be feasible or satisfying. The result is an impossible puzzle of a story, and a sense of impatience for Cruise to do his next cool thing rather than babbling about the most recent twist.
Worst of all? The film’s “impossible” mission – the cornerstone around which each previous film is built – is completed A-OK by the film’s midpoint. The rest of the film? Highly unlikely, but entirely possible.
Female lead Rebecca Ferguson is a double agent with unclear allegiance. Unfortunately, unless blatantly exploited sex appeal is enough for an audience to connect with a character (which probably worked for some, if not most), she’s boring. We don’t care about her paper thin, undeveloped romance with Hunt. We don’t care about her “mysterious” past. All the audience cares about is how well she can shoot a gun in that golden, sexist ball gown. Really though, what sane agent would wear that on any mission ever?
It’s more digestible thanks to supporting forces like Simon Pegg, Hollywood’s most unexpected, legitimate action star. Jeremy Renner is there too, and he does what Jeremy Renner normally does, whatever that is. Is the film worth a shot? Depends on your patience. Will I ever sit through it again? Unthinkable.