Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation is a fun, summer romp. The story involves IMF agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise,) out to stop The Syndicate, an anti-IMF. The Syndicate is run by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who reminds me more than a little of James Bond. Even down to his outfit which, for much of the movie, is a Daniel Craig Spectre-like, black, turtle-neck. Is M.I.5 a commentary or at least a slight dig at Bond? Probably not but if I were in college and needed to write a paper on the film I’d certainly go in that direction. I may just be a little overprotective of my 007.
The film doesn’t change things up as much as the last few entries. Returning are Luther (Ving Rhames,) Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Benji (Simon Pegg.) Newcomer Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is a welcome addition and perfect foil for Ethan. Her character is the most developed and her arc the most interesting. She’s an untrustworthy ally who’s working deep under cover and has a her own agenda, often putting her at odds with Ethan. She betrays him as much as she helps. Everyone else, even Hunt, is kind of one note in this one.
The relationship between Ilsa and Lane reminds me a great deal of Sleeper, a great spy comic by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Lane knows she’s a “good guy” but doesn’t really care. A good agent is a good agent. Hunt knows she’s a “good guy.” She may be the only one who isn’t sure. She certainly wants to be a “good guy” but in the spy business that isn’t always possible. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Mad Max: Fury Road where Ethan is along for Ilsa’s story but she is the most interesting character in this film.
I’d like to point out the opening credits. They repeat the “overture” credits of Ghost Protocol in that all the big moments of the film are there for you to see, if only you knew what you were looking for. The soundtrack makes good use of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible theme but also sneaks in a little opera. One of the big scenes occurs at the Vienna State Opera for a performance of Turandot. All the action occurs during the famous Nessun Dorma aria where, much like Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, an assassination will occur during that final, climactic “Vincerò!” Nessun Dorma is reprised through the film, mainly in dealing with Ilsa. Is she the beautiful princess for whom Ethan must correctly answer three riddles or die? Maybe, but again, probably more for the college paper me.
Yes, I’ve kind of avoided all discussion of plot or action or how Cruise does his own stunts but it’s a summer blockbuster. You really just want a thumbs up or down, don’t you? Thumbs up. Rogue Nation‘s not as good as Ghost Protocol but it’s still pretty darn good. It’s the second best action film this year after Fury Road. Also, no stinger so you can leave immediately but I liked the curtain-call end credits.