Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation - Dir. Christopher McQuarrie

This 5th entry in the Mission: Impossible series is a gloriously entertaining piece of intelligent filmmaking. Tom Cruise and his team know the formula for these movies inside and out, but crucially also know how they need to adapt to keep the films fresh and vibrant. The IMF has been shutdown by the CIA, but that isn’t enough to stop Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) from his latest mission. There’s a sinister organisation called The Syndicate, led by the menacing Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), causing havoc across the world but almost nobody believes they actually exist, especially not CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).

Whilst a commitment to storytelling across multiple films is an admirably ambitious approach, it can often lead to a sense of dissatisfaction with individual films. The Mission: Impossible series has struck a smart balance that respects the events of previous films, without being shackled to details. You could watch all the films in any order, but you’d instantly recognise the right order if you stumbled upon it.
The Ethan Hunt at the beginning of Rogue Nation is one who’s come to accept his place in the world. He tried to go back to a regular life but he’s realised that he cannot be that man (a storyline set up in M:I-III and brought to a satisfying close at the end of Ghost Protocol). The world needs him, especially now, as a very scary threat has entered the frame in the guise of Solomon Lane. He is to Hunt what Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes: a master of manipulation who’s constantly one step ahead of Hunt in this game of espionage. He possesses a confidence that means he can’t resist showing off and goading Hunt in the film’s early stretches. Hunt reacts as predicted and sets off in pursuit of The Syndicate; the game is indeed afoot.

The game sees Hunt stopping off in Belarus, Austria, Morocco and London. The combination of dazzling locations and spectacular action has become the series’ hallmark and the sequences in Rogue Nation are just delightful, including the much publicised airplane tomfoolery and a dizzying three-part centrepiece in Morocco. These sequences are successful partly because of Cruise’s willingness to do his own stunt work, but primarily because they are carefully designed to work within physical limitations. This grounds the sequences in a highly improbable (but not inconceivable) reality, which would be lost with the addition of moments that could only be achieved with CGI. The sequences may lack the grace of movement that Brad Bird brought to his sequences in Ghost Protocol, but they never fail to impress.
If Solomon Lane is Hunt’s Moriarty, then Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is his Irene Adler: his confounding and mysterious equal. The more Hunt learns about her situation, the more he respects her and recognises the difficulties that she faces. Ferguson brings a refined athleticism to her physically demanding role as well as a smouldering steely resolve. Faust’s allegiances are in a perpetual state of flux throughout most of the film but are also brought to a satisfying conclusion as she learns that she has to look out for herself first and foremost. It’s a shame that Paula Patton didn’t return for this entry (particularly with almost all of the male characters doing so), but it would be a greater shame if Ferguson didn’t return in some way in the future.

The evolution of Benji (Simon Pegg) from desk-bound techie to rookie field agent takes another step in Rogue Nation as he becomes Hunt’s most trusted and reliable ally: a Dr Watson-esque figure, if you will. Pegg’s impeccable comic timing and performance is still utilised to great effect, but Benji is now a more resilient and confident field agent who isn’t afraid to stand up and be counted. Each film in the series may live or die on the strength of its action sequences, but the filmmakers are smart enough to recognise the need to push their characters further with each film too.
Rogue Nation is a film of opposites and equals and writer and director Christopher McQuarrie has smartly woven these notions throughout the film. Hunley shuts down the IMF because he thinks their successful missions are nothing more than happy accidents; at the same time, Hunt is investigating a series of accidents which he thinks are carefully orchestrated missions of a powerful organisation. The Syndicate is referred to as the "Anti-IMF", this only becomes more apparent as the film rattles along and more secrets are revealed. McQuarrie sees these ideas through to end with a finale that is more low-key (and refreshingly different from other sequences in the film), but ultimately one that most compliments the story.

Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation is similar without being a copy of its predecessors. It crafts the twisting espionage of M:I-III with the elegance of Ghost Protocol into what might be the most fun film in the series. It’s self-aware without being obnoxious, light-hearted without being insincere. The Mission: Impossible series is always moving and looking towards the future but does so by delivering a cinematic thrill in the present, not by teasing a cinemagoer with the promise of something exciting in a film that hasn’t been made yet. The filmmakers value above all else the cinemagoer that has paid to see Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and because of this, I would be more than willing to accept the mission should Ethan Hunt return.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation was released in UK cinemas on Thursday 30th July 2015.

1 comment:

  1. This was an amazing movie. I want to watch this movie again. I have heard that next part of this movie is also coming soon. Till now all series were outstanding. Lets see the another another series in the next year. Tom Cruise always performs outstandingly.
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