“The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do,” says Ethan Hunt. Benji Dunn responds, “An anti-IMF.”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 20 years since the release of the first Mission: Impossible film. A clever, Hitchcockian-like thriller directed by Brian De Palma, the 1996 film marked star Tom Cruise’s film producing debut. 2000’s Mission: Impossible 2 was a John Woo-directed action misfire that was mostly style and very little substance. J.J. Abrams would reinvigorate the franchise with 2006’s Mission: Impossible III, which harkened back to the spirit of the Bruce Geller-created TV series and placed great emphasis on story and character. 2011 brought Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, the live-action directorial debut of Oscar winner Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), and the franchise’s biggest hit yet. Finally, 2015 brings us Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation (possibly the franchise’s best yet). I recently saw Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation on the big screen, and I can definitely state that this is now a franchise where you’ll think that the newest film couldn’t possibly top the previous one…and then it goes ahead and does.
2015’s Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation follows IMF Agent Ethan Hunt as he tries to prove the existence of a shadow organization called the Syndicate while teaming up with a mysterious British Intelligence agent (as well as some old friends) to stop the Syndicate’s latest scheme while staying one step ahead of the C.I.A. Christopher McQuarrie, who previously directed Cruise in 2012’s underrated Jack Reacher, was brought on board to helm this new Mission: Impossible installment. McQuarrie assembled a fine cast that includes returning cast members Cruise (as Ethan Hunt), Jeremy Renner (as William Brandt), Simon Pegg (as Benji Dunn), and Ving Rhames (as Luther Stickell). New cast members include Rebecca Ferguson (as Ilsa Faust), Sean Harris (as Solomon Lane), Alec Baldwin (as Alan Hunley), Simon McBurney (as Atlee), Jingchu Zhang (as Lauren), and Tom Hollander (as the British Prime Minister). The returning cast members are a delight to watch once again and give top-notch performances. Baldwin (the original Jack Ryan) is fun to watch in a spy film once again, and Harris makes for a compelling villain who is every bit Ethan Hunt’s equal. Ferguson steals the show, providing a strong female presence with a complicated spy character who kicks as much ass as the guys and commands the screen as much as Cruise does. Cruise once again shows why he’s a top action star, performing most of his electrifying stunts himself.
McQuarrie’s strong direction draws excellent performances and his amazing action sequences are a franchise-best (the motorcycle chase in Morocco was my favorite). McQuarrie’s screenplay weaves an entangling mystery and focuses on Hunt’s team coming together once again to take on a dangerous villain while providing plenty of character development for old and new characters. Robert Elswit’s cinematography reflects the fun and thrilling tone of the film (the atmospheric and foggy look of London looked terrific), and James D. Bissell’s production design creates many different locales (Morocco looked gorgeous, as did the opera house in Vienna and the streets of London, but my favorite set was in the underwater sequence). Eddie Hamilton’s editing gives the film a great pace, keeping the action tight and moving. Joe Kraemer delivers a rousing, action-packed score that incorporates Lalo Schifrin’s TV series theme as well as some motifs from the opera Turandot. Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation is another thrilling installment in a franchise that shows no signs of slowing down (like a fine wine, it’s getting better with age).