Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames.
The Mission Impossible franchise has its backbone in impressive stunts and espionage (mission impossible 2 notwithstanding, which was one long explosion). The advert for latest instalment Rogue Nation which sees Ethan Hunt (Cruise) hanging off a plane thousands of feet in the air set audiences up for more of the same.
Rogue begins (after the kamikaze plane ride) with Hunt being kidnapped by the Syndicate. Predictably, with the help of a double MI6 agent Isla Faust (Ferguson), he escapes. The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) is disbanded and Hunt goes rogue to prove the existence of the Syndicate and bring them to justice. Six months later Hunt enlists the help of IT whizz kid and bromance partner Benji Dunn (Pegg). Meanwhile disbanded IMF member William Brandt (Renner) approaches MI veteran Luther Stickell (Rhames) to help him locate Hunt before the CIA do and eliminate him.
Hunt Dunn and Faust are on a mission (impossible. Boom!) to find a ledger that contains all the names of the Syndicate operatives. We follow them all as they negotiate twists and turns along the path to discovering the truth. Look out for a few slightly predictable but nonetheless entertaining hairpin bends.
The MI franchise has been infamous for its daredevil stunts, or rather for Tom 'The Eagle' Cruise's stunts. Rogue Nation is no exception. There has been widespread speculation and awe at the aeroplane hanging tour de force that was ingeniously included in the trailer. Short of removing any Health and Safety necessary wires the stunt is all physical effects. Simon Pegg, who appears in the trailer dressed as some sort of foliage based Ewok, stated that the tension was very real as Cruise clung to the site of the aircraft and ascended toward the clouds. Its one way to avoid Ryanair extra charges.
Thankfully for Rogue Nation the trailer hasn't done a Free Willy and shown the best bits in the trailer. In fact the kamikaze plane ride is in the introduction to the film. What it does do is set us up for the level of intensity of the rest of the film in terms of action, and also establish the relationship between Hunt, Dunn, Stickell and Brandt.
Cruise's insistence on physical features has a definite impact on the action within the film. There is a realism to both the action and the reactions of the actors that isn't evident when computer generated imagery is used. There are honest reactions and there is honest action. The audience are inside the car during the crash, or on the bike during the chase and it brings with it an added edge to the action. When compared with the big explosive action in the first, but more so the second (if you dropped a pin and there was a 40 foot explosion), MI film where the audience views it mainly from the outside Rogue Nation has a more personal touch to the action placing viewers at the forefront.
What is wonderful in Rogue Nation is that finally Simon Pegg is utilised to his full potential. In the third film he had a small very supporting role, in Ghost Protocol he was more prominent but in Rogue he is a main player. Pegg brings with him an established talent for reaction comedy and he bounces of the other characters, particularly in his bromance with Hunt, to perfection. His IT genius and action involved character Dunn would make Tim Bisley proud, and the fact he uses his hi-tech work computers to play first player action games is almost a nod to his geekism. Dunn adds a humanistic touch to the film that not only enhances the comedic element but makes the film much more enjoyable. In the first two films any humorous attempts fell flat but Pegg pulls them off with panache.
In previous MI films the female characters, although intermittently formidable, have generally become a damsel in distress. In Rogue Nation Rebecca Ferguson does no such thing. Her character, Isla Faust, is an equal to Hunt. They are equally skilled and equally talented. In one scene it is indeed Faust who saves Hunt. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard if you are reading this, she takes her heels off to run.
Rogue Nation is easily one of the strongest films in the MI franchise. It may be predictable in places, but there are less obvious twists as the film progresses. The action and stunts involved are intense and enthralling, aided by Cruise' daredevil nature. There is a charming comedy element that works well and helps the audience to relate to the narrative which is mainly brought about by Pegg as Dunn. With a stronger female character (singular, there is only one female......) Rogue shows definite positive progression for the franchise and with the sixth instalment in the planning let's hope for further improvement. We can only guess as to how Cruise will top his plane surfing stunt.