Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
I often bemoan the concept that you should just turn off your brain to enjoy summer movies as it is typically an excuse for people to defend films that are lacking, most often in intelligence, creativity or reason for being. In the case of "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation," I relent - here is a film that is virtually nonstop action, but one in which the stunts and set pieces are so impressive that I couldn't help but enjoy myself.

So, yes, "Rogue Nation" is a fun movie and, I might add, one of the better entries in the "Mission Impossible" franchise as well as one of this year's better summer movies, although not as good as George Miller's visually stunning "Mad Max: Fury Road" or Pixar's very substantive "Inside Out." But that's apples and oranges. This latest sequel in the action-espionage series is fast paced without being brainless and that's a good - and rare - thing.

In this film, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) discovers that an anti-IMF agency known as The Syndicate exists and that its shadowy leader (played creepily by Sean Harris) is recruiting ex-agents to form a, ahem, rogue nation that will carry out nefarious acts of terrorism as a means to... Do you really need to know why? Probably not.

This is a case of a film with a plot existing solely to enable Cruise to take part in some impressive stunts - hanging on to the outside of a plane, swimming in a pressurized tank, etc. - and bring back together the gang from the previous pictures - Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg. Alec Baldwin joins the cast as the CIA's director, while Rebecca Ferguson is a spy playing both sides of the fence.

While, on the one hand, the "Mission Impossible" movies are not very diverse in terms of plot - typically, Cruise and company have to stop some mad man from obtaining a bomb or dangerous intel - on the other, they take a well-worn formula and do it well. In the case of "Rogue Nation," there's no reinvention of the wheel, but said wheel is constantly in motion and it gets the necessary results.

Although I wish Cruise would occasionally take on the type of more challenging roles that made him so interesting to watch in the 1980s and 1990s (everything from "Born on the Fourth of July" to "Magnolia"), I can at least appreciate that he's making big budget action movies with care. There's obviously a fair amount of energy and expertise at work in the "Mission Impossible" films and this latest entry is no exception.

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