There’s nothing like a good spy movie. Fist fights, car chases, gadgets, and a cool, charismatic lead to bring it all together. Since it was first adapted from a 1960’s television series in 1996, the Mission: Impossible film franchise has been one of the best in the genre thanks to great stories, greater action sequences, and a strong lead in veteran action star Tom Cruise. As one of my personal favorites genres, I was more than excited to see if the newest installment could continue the franchise’s upward momentum created by 2011’s stellar Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.
Mission: Impossible has become a de facto American James Bond franchise with every film offering up a different female lead and sinister villain. But Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is always the glue that holds the films together. Hunt is no James Bond and his recklessness and unpolished nature are always what add tension to these films. This time around his chaotic methods have caught up to him and he and the rest of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). While CIA head Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) seeks to find him and shut him down, Ethan goes rogue and searches for a secret terrorist organization that seems to know his every move.
From a narrative standpoint, Director Christopher McQuarrie’s film doesn’t quite flow as well as Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol or reach the tension of J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III. But in McQuarrie’s defense, the plot of Rogue Nation isn’t as interesting as Ghost Protocol’s nor are the stakes as high as they are in M:I 3. Where this film tops its predecessors however, is in its characters. As always, Simon Pegg is witty, comedic gold as tech expert, Benji. Other returning characters, Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames) are at their suave, snarky best throughout. Sean Harris also provides a worthy adversary as Solomon Lane, although that is probably attributed to the script rather than Harris’ actual performance.
But the character who undoubtedly steals the show is Rebecca Ferguoson as double agent, Ilsa Foust. There are femme fatales, and then there’s Ilsa. Ferguson caries out each scene with a calm, collected swagger that is both sexy and menacing. She not only holds her own around Cruise, but after the credits role you may find yourself wishing for her character to get her own set of on-screen adventures. Ilsa is not only the best female role in a Mission: Impossible movie, she may very well be the most exhilarating female lead in any spy movie to date.
The fights, chases, and gadgets are all incredible although the action sequences in the film never top the Burj Khalifa scene in Ghost Protocol. Several scenes, including a motorcycle chase and an underwater heist, certainly come close. It’s amazing that almost 20 years after the film franchise began, the films are getting more and more interesting. Sure, the spy genre can certainly be a bit monotonous and their stories convoluted, but Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is proof that as long as you’ve got good action and interesting characters, we don’t mind sequel after sequel. You’re move 007.
FINAL GRADE: B+