It all began in 1996 when director Brian De Palma adapted the TV series of the same name on the film canvas. Mission: Impossible, despite its convoluted plot, did enough to warrant a sequel. Mission: Impossible II surfaced in 2000 with action filmmaker John Woo at the helm but was more style than substance and, just like its predecessor, has failed to stand the test of time. It wasn’t until 2006 that this franchise found its sure footing when newcomer J.J. Abrams delivered a viciously kinetic, action-packed & relentlessly paced third chapter that provided the boost this series needed. The resurgence continued with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, brought to life by animation wizard Brad Bird himself and still remains the most balanced entry, so far. And now we have a new one!
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation begins from where Ghost Protocol signed off and in more ways than one, is a combination of all the positives of the previous entries in the Mission: Impossible series so far. Using the rogue agent formula of the first chapter as the basis of its plot, lifting the bike stunts of the second one & cleverly enhancing it to deliver a spectacular action segment, incorporating the relentless momentum of the third, and aiming for the near-perfect balance of the fourth, Rogue Nation arrives as a tour-de-force of blockbuster filmmaking that’s refreshing, riveting & entertaining from start to finish, is an ingeniously crafted action spy thriller that works as a thoroughly satisfying summer extravaganza, and is impressive enough to rank amongst the finest films of the year, so far.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation finds IMF agent Ethan Hunt on a personal mission as he continues to look for evidence that will prove the existence of the Syndicate, a counter-organisation to the IMF that has managed to stay invisible all the time in performing its sinister duties. After foiling one of their operations, Hunt is captured by the Syndicate but manages to escape with the help of an undercover agent operating in the shadowy consortium. Meanwhile, CIA chief Hunley convinces a Senate committee to disband the IMF by citing the collateral damage their high-risk missions have caused in recent times, and declares Hunt a fugitive who’s to be arrested on sight. Entirely on his own now & desperately hunted by the CIA, Hunt nevertheless decides to go ahead with his existing plan and secretly enlists the help of his former team & a mysterious woman who has an agenda of her own.
Written & directed by Christopher McQuarrie, whose last directional effort was another Tom Cruise starrer Jack Reacher, Rogue Nation opens on an impressive note with an instantly captivating sequence that finds Ethan Hunt climbing & hanging on the outside of a flying airplane, which is then followed by the Ghost Protocol inspired opening credits which might soon become this series’ very own main title segment, just like those James Bond flicks. The main storyline is set up relatively quick & the relevant characters are introduced early into the story, after which McQuarrie expertly paces the whole narrative and in the process is also able to pay his tributes to the instalments that came before it and he does it without interfering with the main plot. The screenplay is wonderfully penned down too for the story features a tightly packed structure and nicely blends a sufficient dose of humour into its action-adventure premise.
Although the film benefits from McQuarrie’s kinetic direction & focused script, the whole look n feel of the movie is further improved by its brilliantly executed technical aspects. Production design team does a stellar job with the rich, refined set pieces that add a sumptuous feel to the surroundings and also compliment the exotic locations where much of this feature film was shot. Cinematography is quite similar to how it was in Ghost Protocol and the fluid movements & clever placements of camera, in addition to its vivid colour palette & effectual lighting, provides its images a vibrant look that makes it come alive in splendid detail. Editing is definitely one of the film’s strongest highlights for it rarely switches to a lower gear during its 131 minutes runtime. Furthermore, the entire experience is all the more elevated by its explosive soundtrack, composed by Joe Kraemer, which maintains a close proximity with the franchise’s main theme at all times.
Coming to the performances, Rogue Nation brings the notable members of the earlier cast with a couple of welcome additions. Leading from the front is Tom Cruise in another turn in as the famous IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and although his performance is just as nuanced as before, his devotion to his most popular role is absolute. Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner & Simon Pegg return in their respective roles of Luther, Brandt & Benji and it’s good to see that Pegg isn’t in the picture just for the sake of providing the comic relief. Amongst the new additions, Sean Harris takes the role of the main antagonist, Solomon Lane, a former MI6 agent who went rogue & is now the leader of the Syndicate, but he isn’t formidable enough. Alec Baldwin also joins in the man solely responsible for shutting down IMF and does well as CIA director Alan Hunley. However, stealing the show this time is Rebecca Ferguson who plays MI6 undercover Ilsa Faust and effortlessly delivers the strongest performance of the ensemble.
On an overall scale, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation continues the defiance of this action spy thriller series against the weariness that begins surfacing in most franchises once a few of their instalments are out. Building on the strength of its predecessors while also keeping a close check on their shortcomings, this action extravaganza packs in enough surprise, thrills & breakneck action to satisfy the filmgoing audience, features some outstanding stunt work that makes its action segments all the more memorable, and emanates ample freshness throughout its runtime to succeed as a fitting instalment in the long-running franchise. It isn’t a flawless picture but the shortcomings are mere nitpicks (more or less) and the film as a whole is incredibly fun to sit through. Definitely a worthy addition to the Mission: Impossible series, a fascinating example of blockbuster filmmaking, and a downright magnificent cinematic ride that’s completely worth your time & money, Rogue Nation comes strongly recommended.