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Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

July 31, 2015

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Rogue Nation PosterMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth and latest entry into the long running series, follows all the check points of the previous franchise entries.  We’ve got a tangled web of a plot that involves lots of double crossings and surprise twists, witty banter between the characters, and extended action sequences that are all expertly choreographed to make our pulses quicken.

The good news is that these trademarks are exactly what we want from a Mission: Impossible film, which makes Rogue Nation an almost unqualified success, a summer blockbuster that is simply a lot of fun.  And if you enjoy a good spy caper as much as I do, then it’s certainly worth the price of admission, at least to tide us over until the next James Bond film comes out.

After the disbanding of the CIA’s Impossible Mission Force, super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has gone rogue, to track down a syndicate of highly trained agents, who are connected to a series of terrorist attacks.  While relying on the help of his confidantes Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), he becomes closely involved with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferugson), a British agent who may just be involved with the same group they are trying to take down.

This film doesn’t quite reach the Burj Khalifa dangling heights of director Brad Bird’s shockingly great Ghost Protocol in 2011, which served as both a critical and commercial reboot of the series.  Where that film played with almost gleeful abandon, there is a more politically minded plot behind Rogue Nation, which means more explanatory dialogue and longer stretches between set pieces.  But this also allows for a more grounded story, and a stronger villain in the form of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), something that writer-director Christopher McQuarrie uses to add an affective sense of intrigue to the proceedings.

When the action gets going, there’s no stopping this film, and every chase or fight sequence is gripping to watch.  This includes a highly dramatic sequence of paranoia and murder staged behind the scenes at the opera house in Austria, as well as a motorbike and car chase through the streets of Morocco.  The climactic sequence involves heightened suspense and a surprisingly gritty knife fight, impressively photographed amidst shadowy corridors at night.  But perhaps the film’s grandest moment comes around the halfway mark, with an underwater sequence where our hero is forced to literally hold his breath for several minutes, a feeling that will likely transfer over to the audience.

Throughout all of this, Tom Cruise once again proves that he’s still an action star without compare, and Rebecca Ferguson provides the perfect match, getting her own moments to kick ass in a plot refreshingly free of any romance between them.  For a piece of summer entertainment that enjoyably defies the laws of physics in favour of staging some genuinely thrilling action sequences, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a lot of fun, and bound to keep audiences comfortably perched on the edges of their seats.

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