The Mission: Impossible series is a rare one, where it actually found its footing and character several movies in. The third movie is still the best, it established a great tone of action, intrigue and humour. The fourth and this one continued that trend. It seems like Mission: Impossible the series and this tone are the ones other franchises try to rip off. Two examples are The Fast & Furious series, which pitifully tries to ape the suave and clever heists that take place in the IMF world. Another is The Expendables series, which makes an even worse attempt at going after the light hearted humour. It’s a good thing we have another M:I movie then to refresh quality. Rogue Nation is not a let down.
In the fifth movie, Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise, obviously) and his elite team of operatives are disbanded for being too reckless. Meanwhile, another similar group (‘The Syndicate’) emerges, they have similar skills but different motives. They’re baddies, extremists who want change and don’t mind killing a few civvies along the way. They are led by Sean Harris, who routinely plays scumbag villains (you’ll know him when you see him). So who else would take these pissants down but Tom Cruise, via high speed pursuits and breaking into secure facilities?
I took a jab at the Fast & Furious and Expendables series above. However as far as negatives go about this movie, it shares something with them. The weakest part of Rogue Nation is the actual ‘Rogue Nation’/Syndicate. Very little is said about them, at least of substance. We’re taking the good guys’ word for it quite a bit and they, as baddies, are underdeveloped, just like the former two franchises. And like too many a movie, the story is too keen to separate them as bad guys from western governments. As if to say, we don’t fuck you over, not us! I don’t want to use the term cardboard or trope, but it was verging close to that. The Bourne series for example is more up front with that – the scumbags in that movie are who we all know them to be. I was also mildly pissed at the screen time given to Ving Rhames and especially Alec Baldwin (yeah, here’s in there too). The movie keeps ahead of these faults though with brilliant set pieces, action, racing and humour. That’s where these movies excel.
Take the chase scene in Morocco, with a BMV (there are quite a few of those in this movie, hmm…) chasing high powered motorbikes. This is sublime action that you really shouldn’t miss and I am pleased to report that the usual ‘shaking cam’ diagnosis is good. Things happen. You see them happening. A lot of it looks practical too, but a lot of it doesn’t. Elsewhere, when Rogue Nation attempts humour, it is effective. Take it from me, a cynical crank, Rogue Nation hits the right funny bone notes and, more importantly, doesn’t overdo it. Like all good comedy, leave the stage when you reel ’em in. One other thing, it’s nice to see Cruises’s Ethan Hunt appear vulnerable, let it be said that after Rogue Nation, the character can be seen to bite off more than he can chew from time to time and feel the pain when colliding with something, whether it’s concrete or someone’s fist. Other A-listers in ‘similar’ movies appear to want to come off as invincible super heroes.
If I could some MI:5 in one line, God damn, I hope that chase inspires other movies to use motorcycles in set pieces.