I love action movies. Always have done and always will. I love the Mission: Impossible films, always have done. But will I always?
The beauty about the Mission: Impossible series is that each film has brought a totally different style to the film. Brian De Palma’s first film back in 1996 was a proper blockbuster than has government moles, cool gadgets and the bad ass Jon Voight as the film’s villain.
Then 4 years later (there are big gaps in the franchise) we had John Woo’s very Chinese-Action orientated sequel which some consider the worst, but does have some slick action sequences in there despite some very cheesy dialogue.
Enter JJ Abrams. Having created TV Series Lost, Abrams made his directorial debut with Mission: Impossible 3, in 2006. This reinvented the series, showing it could become a very long franchise like James Bond. The villain played by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the best we have seen in a Mission film. The bridge scene is still considered one of my favourite action scenes ever too! Safe to say, I loved this film.
Brad Bird took over for 2011’s Ghost Protocol. His only previous film’s being those of the animated sort such as The Incredible. But from one incredible to another, Tom Cruise showed us just how much he was willing to raise the stakes for an action film by climbing the World’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa by himself, scaling down it and jumping all around it. This is when we thought, “Shit! This guy is nuts, but in a pulsating way for us!!”
Tom Cruise starred in Jack Reacher in 2012, teaming with Director/Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, who also wrote the script for Ghost Protocol. This time around, he sits in the director’s chair for Rogue Nation, also penning the script this time around too.
The plot is somewhat simple. A rogue nation of operatives called ‘The Syndicate’ have been terrorising countries in order to set off a successful result of actions in which they can profit from. Benji calls these the anti-IMF. In a twist of the usual “your mission, should you choose to accept it,” Ethan learns that the syndicate are real and a lot more powerful than he could have imagined.
Meanwhile chief of CIA, Alan Hunley (played by the great Alec Baldwin) is attempting to shut down IMF due to the far from clean results the team have got over the years, deeming them to be an expensive and messy asset for the American government. William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Benji (Simon Pegg) are continually questioned as to the whereabouts of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) so the CIA can bring him in and make him accountable for his actions.
Hunt is now rogue, but is met with another agent who is undercover, Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson). Ferguson’s character has been likened to Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. She is the female offering of Ethan Hunt, and she really is a bad ass. Whereas in other films, female action stars are forgotten about or don’t simply work, British Operative Ilsa is cool, sexy and doesn’t take any shit – the perfect woman, right?
With a conflict in task forces, but a common interest in bringing down the Syndicate, Ethan and Ilsa have there own cat and mouse games where you’re constantly kept guessing whether she is indeed on the bad side, the good side, Ethan Side or so many sides you end up forgetting what the good side is!
Despite jokes and over the top action set-pieces, the level of class this film oozes is at times, ridiculously classy. The opening plane scene which Cruise has done himself (somewhat topping the Burj Khalifa stunt) sets the tone for the film – you’re going to be sat for 2 hours watching some crazy shit. But co-ordinated crazy if there’s ever such a thing.
The opera scene is cut in a way which builds the tension up fantastically, meanwhile juggling elements of humour and espionage that oozes sexiness. Then there’s the Morocco chase which again throws action in car chases and motorbike chases. The highlight being a painful-viewing drowning scene in which Tom Cruise was learning to hold his breathe for up to 6 minutes in order to shoot for film. Music cuts, all you can hear is the suffocating swooshes of water and the heartbeat of Ethan Hunt which gradually increases faster and faster as his oxygen levels are running out.
The first 3/4 of the film are set piece after set piece which can frustrate some. It could seem that this has come from a scrapbook of awesome ideas thinking, “let’s just chuck them all in at some point and try and wing a story around it.” The last 1/4 of the film takes a slower approach when it reaches London. A dark autumn setting which sets a darker tone for the franchise but offering gorgeous smoky visuals and a very cool knife fight scene offering probably the films most bad ass kill!
I’ve seen other reviews that came in early and their critic of how side lined the rest of the IMF team i.e. Benji, Luther (Ving Rhames returns in a fuller role this time around!) and Brandt are. I really don’t know whether they have ever watched a Mission: Impossible film before, but they are plain wrong. Yes, this is a Tom Cruise film and a Tom Cruise film means he is on the screen for 90% of the time; that’s not a bad thing when he is totally cool and watchable.
If anything, I’d say this is the film where the team have their most importance. Ethan is questioned by his team throughout, they aren’t sure how many times they can trust him in these impossible circumstances. Benji has a great stand-up to Ethan moment which shows what he means to Ethan and vice versa. Brandt is constantly questioning Hunt’s methods and looking for another way of doing things. Luther and Brandt have a great scene together, one that offers the biggest laugh of the film – the humour is so well balanced; there’s enough throughout the film to make you chuckle, but not too much to make it seem silly.
I had high expectations going into the film. I had an absolute blast for the 2 hours which helped me overlook issues with the film. Yes, there’s no insane villain (we are still waiting for the next Hans Gruber!!) Yes, there’s some parts that don’t flow well as a film collectively. But the positives far outweigh those gripes and we are better off with this movie in our lives than without it.
Tom Cruise has said whilst doing promo for Rogue Nation that they plan to shoot Mission: Impossible 6 next year, somewhat speeding up the gaps between the entries in the series. Whether it be Tom Cruise is now 53 (wow), that companies want to capitalise on his global box office form or they just have a really cool idea for the next one already, I couldn’t care because I know I will welcome another M:I film with open arms…well, when I’m not tucking into my nachos loving the movie anyway!