Review: Exceedingly Cool ‘Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation’ Does Not Disappoint

If you need a taste of what is going to happen in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”, know that the much publicized shot of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging from the side of a cargo plane occurs in the first five minutes of the movie. With that kind of bold opening, the remaining 126 minutes had better cook.

It does. From start to finish, the fifth installment of the “Mission: Impossible” film series is relentless, thrilling, and makes the NSA spy scandal seem like it was done with two cans tied to a string. It weaves a fantastic ensemble cast in and out of a fairly complex (for summer action movies) plot, all while scoring several big laughs along the way.

In an instance of art imitating life, Ethan Hunt’s super secret IMF team is under investigation by CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) for being, well, too super secret. Hunley, much to the chagrin of IMF boss William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), succeeds in getting Congress to defund the IMF and absorbs the organization into the CIA.

Things aren’t going very well for Ethan either. He is captured by the evil organization known as The Syndicate, who intends to get precious spy info from him via torture. He escapes (not a spoiler because duh) and is assisted in doing so by a mysterious Brit, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).

Now that he’s on the run from the CIA and The Syndicate, led by the creepier than creepy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), Ethan decides that he needs some help. He enlists trusty computer geek Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and the two of them are off on a globe trotting adventure that takes them to London, Vienna, and Morocco, allowing them to collect a bevy of frequent flyer mileage.

Since Brandt isn’t sold on shuttering up the IMF and selling Ethan down the river, he calls up Luther Stickell (franchise veteran Ving Rhames) and the two of them chase after Ethan and Benji. For those keeping score, the CIA, former IMF members, and the bad guys are all after Ethan.

Naturally, this leads to lots of chasing. While director Christopher McQuarrie (who also wrote the screenplay) doesn’t bring much in the visual excitement department, he does allow all of the action to play out naturally and be exciting. He seems to have created homages dedicated to past directors of the film series.

The opera house sequence during a performance of “Turandot?” That’s straight out of Brian DePalma’s playbook. Car and motorcycle chase in Morocco? John Woo. A daring raid of an underwater computer facility all done with tongue and cheek “what now” humor? J.J. Abrams.

While “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is Cruise’s show, it’s exceptionally cool to see other characters step up and play pivotal roles in the story. Renner doesn’t get to join in on the rock ‘em, sock ‘em fun, but he convincingly plays Brandt as a voice of reason against Ethan’s “devil may care” man of action. He and Rhames share several scenes together and they prove that this franchise could definitely move on without Cruise.

For those that felt Simon Pegg’s wit and snark wasn’t capitalized on in the past, this entry takes care of all that. Other than then Pegg-Edgar Wright movies, this is easily Pegg’s most entertaining, fleshed out performance. Pegg gets to throw a few punches and is much more than a jester on the sidelines, simply manning a laptop.

Tom Cruise is 53 years old. Based on “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”, he could pass for 30. This is one of the most physically impressive performances in movie history and makes one ponder whether Cruise is an actor or an athlete. His stunt work engulfs you in the movie and allows a viewer to see Cruise as Ethan Hunt as opposed to Cruise as, well, “Tom Cruise.”

At some point, Cruise will move on from Ethan Hunt and the IMF. But why would he? This is easily the most bankable and entertaining character he has ever played. The beauty of this particular movie is that he seems more than willing to share the screen with his co-stars, making the inevitable passing of the “Mission: Impossible” torch (perhaps to Renner?) completely acceptable.

It also helps that Cruise could be on screen with inanimate objects, flash that sly grin, say something cool, and be engrossing. For all the off-screen weirdness he possesses, it cannot be argued that he is still a fascinating actor to watch.

Considering there is already another sequel in the works, it’s safe to say that “Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation” expects to earn a lot of cash. It is deserving and in a summer full of above average action movies, this one just may be the best.

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