Saturday 8 June 2019

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

A spy thriller, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation packs in impressive amounts of glossy action but almost overloads its own plot.

After intercepting a shipment of chemical weapons in Minsk, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) of the Impossible Mission Force travels to London and comes face to face with his nemesis Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the leader of The Syndicate, an evil global terrorist group. With the unexpected help of undercover British operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt escapes Lane's clutches.  Meanwhile CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) shuts down IMF, much to the disappointment of Hunt's boss Brandt (Jeremy Renner).

Ethan reemerges six months later, calling on his IMF colleague Benji (Simon Pegg) to join him in Vienna where they attempt to prevent an assassination at the Opera House, which leads to a reteaming with Ilsa in Casablanca. The hobbled IMF has to disrupt Lane's nefarious plans to secure access to billions in illicit funds, but Lane always seems to be several steps ahead of his pursuers.

After the spectacular success of 2011's Ghost Protocol, the Mission: Impossible series returns with the still slick but slightly bloated Rogue Nation. Frequent Tom Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie writes and directs this fifth chapter, and delivers the expected non-stop thrills, humour, country-hopping and wild stunt scenes expected of the series. More than ever a James Bond influence creeps in, certainly jazzed up but evident in a rather harried plot and underlined by a knowing emerge-from-the-water-in-a-bikini moment.

At 131 minutes, Rogue Nation does go on. The mandatory MacGuffin in this case has something to do with a triple encrypted digital file stored in a fortified bunker, but overall the story gets more convoluted, less interesting and increasingly blurry by the minute. Better to acknowledge the plot as the flimsiest of excuses to justify the set-pieces, and when it matters McQuarrie and Cruise deliver with eye-popping expertise.

A stand out sequence involve a quadrangular wild motorcycle and car chase, the Mission: Impossible series yet again proving new life can be found in one of the oldest action movie cliches, the rational editing adding immensely to the enjoyment level. Even better is an underwater infiltration to swap a computer card involving exceptional physical exertion laced with humour and late heroics.

The character of Ilsa Faust injects the series with feminine clout and provides Ethan Hunt with a worthwhile counterpart, ally and rival. With Rebecca Ferguson providing plenty of resolute oomph, Ilsa plays a more prominent role than most of the IMF members, with Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell suffering the most notable relegation to the background.

Never pretending to be weighty, Rogue Nation is a fast paced and agile romp through the world of high octane thrills.

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