Since J.J Abrams breathed new life into the Mission Impossible franchise with MI3 in 2006, the series has been one of the most bankable and critically acclaimed action franchise’s in Hollywood. Tom Cruise’s age defying character of Ethan Hunt has thrilled us with his death defying stunts, regardless of director, as Cruise carried names like Abrams and Bird to the top of the cinematic zeitgeist. This time Cruise brought along his Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuaarie, to helm a film that didn’t even have a finished script when shooting began. Begging the question: can Cruise carry another director to success with his career defining franchise?
Considering that Cruise did most all of his own stunts for Rogue Nation, while also producing, financing, and writing the film’s ending during filming, the fact that this movie is in the conversation for best film of summer 2015 may be one of the most impressive mission’s Tom Cruise has ever accomplished. Keep in mind all of this happened after the film was moved up 6 month’s to stay out of the way of Star Wars the Force Awakens at the box-office this December. Not only that, even more impressive is this film defines this already successful franchise in a way none of it’s predecessors really do. This is accomplished as Cruise and McQuarrie take us from one incredible action set piece to another in this globe trotting adventure. The film is able to raise the stakes, but not with typical superficial sequel one-ups-man-ship. Instead the challenges that face Ethan Hunt from boarding a moving airplane in the post nontraditional of senses to maybe the best underwater action sequence I have seen in my lifetime feel riskier than they do bigger, when compared to the Mumbai Scene in Ghost Protocol.
To compliment these death defying feats, Cruise is surrounded by his best ensemble cast in the history of the franchise. You have the old familiar’s in Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Benji (Simon Pegg), that bring their usual stick’s to the film such as Rhames coyness or Renner’s wet blanket demeanor. However the real breakout star of the film comes to us in the form of a relatively new Swedish actress: Rebecca Feguson who plays IIlsa Faust. If not for the unprecedented bad-assery of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road earlier this summer, rest assured Ms. Ferguson would be the talk of tinsel town. In every scene she is in, most of which she shares with Cruise she matches the legendary action star beat for beat in his own franchise, carrying a sense of gravitas that sadly very few female characters are written to have. However in Rogue Nation screen writer : Drew Peacre not only gives Ferguson a ton to do from both a dialogue and actions sense, from a marksman battle in an opera house to a motorcycle chase scene that rival’s anything from the Bourne franchise.
The only thing that prevents Rogue Nation from being a perfect action film is it’s central antagonist: Solomon Lane played by Sean Harris. Lane runs the anti IMF organization the syndicate, and is supposed to be the perfectly balanced foil to Ethan Hunt (Cruise). Instead Harris gives us his best imitation of Timothy Dalton bond villain, fades into mediocrity failing to match Cruise at any point of the film. It also felt that the new heir apparent to the IMF Alan Huntly (Alec Baldwin) was a little bit under utilized, considering the ambiance Baldwin brought to the role during his brief appearances. Overall Rogue Nation is arguably the best installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, lacking only a memorable villain to transcend it to greatness.
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