Mitchel Waite © 2020

Tag : Mission Impossible

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation [2015] Review

Cards on the table; I’m a sucker for the Mission: Impossible films, so this may be a biased article. They’re over the top, lavish in the IMF’s seemingly endless budget, but effortlessly cool and fun. They’re heist movies with spies. They never take themselves too seriously but they’re never lazy. Tom Cruise aims for thrills and each instalment is a roller coaster ride, pushing the envelope and adding value every time.

Rogue Nation is so fun and thrilling to watch, it did not disappoint. Tom Cruise seem to have identified that it’s not about better gadgets or grander locations each time; it’s about pushing himself, and it works. M:I had the iconic server room hack, in M:I-2 it was the excellent John Woo motorcycle showdown (and somewhat my favourite, as I was 13 years old in 2000), M:I-3 had him leap from a Shanghai skyscraper, M:I-4 has the terrifying (and series defining) Burj Khalifa acrobatics, and now M:I-5 has Cruise clinging on to the side of plane. Each instalment pushes the envelope for Cruise and the Russian doll gets bigger every time.

Some of the charm was missing in Rogue Nation. More screen time has been allocated to the IMF team and it seems somewhat less about Ethan Hunt. Whether this is an intentional decision to keep any ego-inflation anxieties in check, I’m not sure. I sat there afterwards thinking (to many people’s surprise, I’m sure); needs more Tom Cruise! There’s no doubt that his name can still sell movies alone. However, the laughs seemed throwaway and peppered in to the script and there was some lazy exposition too. Rebecca Ferguson was fantastic as the double-agent Ilsa Faust; she kept the audience guessing of her allegiance at every turn. The opera house assassination scene is a romantic nod to any classic Euro-spy thriller, and it was refreshing to see something different to a rudimentary bomb disposal that we’ve been accustomed to in films post 9/11. It was good to see a film looking inwards at its own world too; in Rogue Nation the IMF is a risk, rather than the world being held to ransom.

Along with a thrilling, frantic and brutal motorcycle chase along a Moroccan highway, I feel that Rogue Nation perfectly balances a classic European assassination thriller with the fun action that viewers expect. The villains still need to have more of an impact though; aside from the first film, we never seem to have their motivations clearly explained. The dialogue and script isn’t perfect  either (to me, the MacGuffin wasn’t compelling enough in building tension) but Christopher McQuarrie has made a great Mission: Impossible film.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Four films in and you’d expect the pace to slow down a little, but this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about here. He’s nearly at the half-century milestone and is still willing to throw himself out of the tallest building in the world (and even recently climbing to the building’s peak, unharnessed!). The plot of the films hasn’t required extensive discussions over a few drinks after the cinema, they’re more of a catalyst for the big action set pieces. Ghost Protocol continues this tradition and pulls out of the hat some of the best set pieces in the series to date. For example, [minor spoiler] the recently disavowed IMF team suddenly need to hack into the mainframe of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Going through the front door isn’t possible, so instead it must be accessed from the outside. Cue vertigo-inducing acrobatics.

Brad Bird’s first live action feature really hits all the right notes, and the use of IMAX cameras for key scenes does a fantastic job at promoting this format. He could have easily used a CGI solution for the Burj Khalfia scene (given that he’s from an animation background, previously with Pixar’s The Incredibles). The rest of the action is very fluid, almost as if it drives the story itself. Every movement seems to have purpose.

It has its cheesy moments and a weak villain, but for the fourth film in a franchise it’s a solid entry. It proves they just don’t want make a quick buck at the box office, but push the limits of an action film to new limits.