MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION is the fifth installment of the shape-shifting extravaganza that is the Impossible Missions Franchise. By now, we in the audience know to expect a death-defying set-piece stunt, shiny tech, exotic locations, mid-level laffs from the likes of Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames and a galloping plot that involves chasing a missile, microchips or money. The desired object doesn’t really matter, as long as Ethan Hunt and his team of multi-skilled spies win out against the foreign villains, the US government and other intelligence agencies.
In this edition, Ethan and the team are answerable to a Senate committee who believes the IMF is reckless, expensive and damaging to US foreign relations. The order is given to shut down the agency. The timing could not be worse because Hunt has found evidence of a shadowy organisation known only as The Syndicate. The Syndicate has destroyed military and civilian targets all over the world, as well as covertly assassinated political leaders. Unfortunately, neither the Americans, nor the Brits, believe that such a group exists and time is running out for Hunt to prove they do.
The Mission Impossible flicks are of variable quality. The acknowledged low point is MI:2 (2000) (shot right here in Oz!). MI:3 (2006) was the JJ Abrams reboot that got things back on track. That was my personal favourite; for the first time we had a sense of Hunt as a character beyond the born-ready automaton who never puts a foot wrong. My only real beef with the series is that it doesn’t know what to do with its female characters. Michelle Monaghan, Maggie Q and Paula Patton were all worthy of a return shot, but somehow never made it back. The major female character in ROGUE NATION is Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson who plays Ilsa Faust, an agent supposedly working for British Intelligence. Ferguson delivers amply in her action sequences and she is terrific at playing an agent with shifting alliances.
ROGUE NATION director and writer Christopher McQuarrie shows yet again why he is the go-to guy for latter-day Tom Cruise vehicles. He wrote VALKYRIE (2008) and EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) as well as directing JACK REACHER (2012). He handles the action with deftness and confidence. I’m not a fan of car and motorcycle chases (what kind of crappy bike can’t outrun a car?) but the Moroccan motorcycle scene is expertly executed.
ROGUE NATION is a solid actioner that provides well-timed sequences of kinetic thrills broken up with comedic moments. In short, it’s a top-of-the-line popcorn picture that will offend no one and entertain most everyone. 131 minutes. 7/10.