The Good: Decent performances, Good pacing, Engaging plot
The Bad: Very low on character development, Predictable plot reversals
The Basics: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is fun, but hardly surprising and not at all a character-driven film.
In most major movie franchises, the work gets to the point where viewers can legitimately say, "You've seen one, you've seen them all." The James Bond franchise is an excellent example in that regard and there are several outings in the franchise that feel more like a parody of themselves, as opposed to legitimate outings. The Mission: Impossible franchise has been a pretty rocky one, but after truly being thrilled by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (reviewed here!), I actually found myself getting excited about the latest installment, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (despite the big action sequences being ruined by the film's trailer!). And, for a fun summer popcorn movie, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation does all that it is supposed to.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is not to the eye-rolling point where viewers are likely to feel they have seen the whole film before (especially the beginning), but for veterans of the franchise the reversals are beginning to get far more telegraphed. And that is the real missed opportunity of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation: this installment has a formidable villain, but it is limited to the conventions of the genre, as opposed to exploring the unique aspects of the story. So, much the way Die Another Day (reviewed here!) did an inadequate job of exploring the effects of a shellshocked Bond, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation does not actually explore how Ethan Hunt squaring off with - essentially - his equal and opposite, affects the character.
Following a mission to Belarus where Ethan Hunt manages to intercept a shipment of biological weapons, the Impossible Missions Force is disbanded by its Senate oversight board. Hunt's attempt to make it to a London safehouse puts him in the crosshairs of a dangerous individual who plans to have him tortured for information. But the interrogation is quick as Hunt is rescued by a woman he does not know and manages to escape, while she remains behind to infiltrate the Syndicate. With the IMF shut down by the Director of the CIA, Hunley, Brandt and Benji Dunn are assimilated into the CIA while Hunt goes on the run to try to investigate the Syndicate himself.
Six months later, the CIA sends a team to Havana to apprehend Hunt (whom they believe is there) and they find what he wanted them to; his assembled information on the Syndicate, which is an intelligence agency made up entirely of international intelligence agents who appear to have died in the line of duty on prior missions. Hunt enlists Benji to help him identify the leader of the Syndicate in Austria, but the mission goes horribly wrong. Soon, Hunt, Benji, and the Syndicate double agent Ilsa Faust are on the run from both the Syndicate and the CIA.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is fast-paced and engaging despite the reversals that are pretty predictable. If it's Mission: Impossible, at some point, one of the characters will be revealed to be someone else wearing a high-tech mask. In this regard, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is par for the course. And there are the chases. They are good, but the menace is telegraphed and the chases are pretty average.
The performances in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation are good, but most of them are hardly exceptional. In fact, the best one is the performance by Sean Harris. Harris plays the villainous Solomon Lane and he is so good with his controlled body language and tone of quiet menace that he was utterly unrecognizable as the same actor who played Fifield in Prometheus (reviewed here!). His performance elevates what we expect from the villain and while Tom Cruise does some fairly impressive stunts in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Cruise's performance is bland by comparison. In fact, Cruise is stuck characterizing Lane as impressive more than he makes Hunt the equal of the adversary.
Ultimately, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is all right and it is entertaining, but it is not much more than that.
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© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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