Mladen and Del review ‘Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation’
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” Starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. 131 minutes. Rated PG.
Del knows where my review of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (MI V) is heading. I won’t disappoint him entirely, but he’ll have to be patient.
The movie summary first. MI V is a smooth spy thriller. Solid plot. Well acted. Top notch real stuntman stunts. In short, the discredited and disavowed IMF (Mission Impossible Force) dukes with the CIA and “Rogue Nation” – aka The Syndicate – of allegedly dead spies and hitmen to keep societies from sliding into revolts and wholesale slaughter.
The Syndicate, headed by misguided former British MI6er (I assume) Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) wants to create a New World Order by first destroying the Current World Order. The IMF, led by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), takes on the task of keeping the Rogue Nation from succeeding, though no one or institution, including the CIA, believes it exists. In fact, the CIA, incarnate in the movie as its very stiff, somewhat unconvincing director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), sends a “Special Projects Team” to hunt Hunt and the rest of the IMF.
Hunt’s outlawed IMF, if that’s the way to describe an agency of spooks that legally never existed, ends up a player in a globe-trotting good guys versus bad guys game deftly manipulated by the most intelligent, beautiful, and kick-your-ass woman spy – Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – ever put on the big screen or, for that matter, any size screen anywhere. Is she an angel or Lucifer? Who cares. It was good that the MI V script was clean and comprehensible because I could barely keep my focus on the movie’s turns and twists when Ferguson was on the screen.
There is a generous dose of humor in the film and stunts that only occasionally foray into the impossible. From what I noticed, MI V has one absurd piece of CGI action. It involves a Beamer launched backwards at high speed during a superbike chase through the streets and open roads of Casablanca, Morocco. Thank goodness for German engineering or Hunt and sidekick Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) would’ve been deader than the pancake-flat squirrel down the road from my home.
Also annoying was the coincidence during the very same motorcycle chase that saw Hunt and Benji re-unite with fellow IMFers William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames).
Finally, and forgive me for repeating myself, MI V would’ve been a better movie had it been made for an R rating. Cussing and blood splatter are musts for films that involve lots of gunfire, treachery, ambitious Government officials pursuing nothing more than power, and mayhem that unfolds in cities full of passing bystanders.
MI V won’t win any Oscars. But, I’ll say this. It’s well worth seeing in the theater. The B+/A- movie, I can’t decide and I’m trying to stay level headed despite images of Ferguson floating through my mind, also continues Cruise’s streak of very good performances. See or re-see 2014’s “Edge of Tomorrow” to understand what I’m talking about.
I was hoping Mladen would take a cold shower before writing his review of “Rogue Nation.” Instead, I get to mop up his Pavlovian drool – in this case a babe, not a bell, infused his report with such salivary gusto.
I heard before going in that “Rogue Nation” was as good, if not better, than “Mad Max.”
Let me put it this way: If the femme fatales from both movies squared off in a death match, Mladen’s little Ilsa would be roadkill flatter and deader than that squirrel down the road from his house. Furiousa would blow Ilsa to bits with one of those badass canons she carries, then flatten her 18 times with her kickass war rig, and war boys would blast her pancaked remains into smithereens with explosive pig-stickers.
That’s not to say “Rogue Nation” isn’t a good movie. It is, and you should see it in a theater, and if you get the senior citizen discount good on you because once again they mistook me for a younger, more financially capable person, and I paid full matinee price.
“Rogue Nation” features some amazing stunts. We’ve all seen the clip where Tom Cruise clings to the side of an Airbus as it takes off. I found a motorcycle chase sequence to be a lot more hair-raising. And, of course, there were the required heights scenes where Cruise is jumping off something taller than Oprah Winfrey’s couch – c’mon, Tom, I think we get the fact you like dangling from high places. You should run for president.
Sean Harris was a deliciously evil bad guy. I haven’t enjoyed a movie villain that much since Hans Gruber. The MI team members were all capable and funny – would Simon Pegg be anything BUT funny? Tom Cruise continues as an affable movie star – and he IS a movie star. Mladen was right about “Edge of Tomorrow” – you gotta see it.
In the run-up to “Rogue Nation” we caught a preview for “Spectre,” the new James Bond movie. In the lobby was a poster for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” All these spy movies trace their origins to the 1960s, the us-vs.-them mentality of the Cold War, and the very real fear we would fall to the communists. James Bond, Napoleon Solo and Jim Phelps were all that stood between us and Red Square and the Little Red Book. They took their job seriously, and we took them seriously.
THAT is what’s missing from these movies.
We’re not afraid of world domination by a soul-less entity. (We do, after all, shop at Walmart.) We’re afraid our 401(k)s will be eaten up by the looming financial crash. We’re afraid the boss will hand us a pink slip. We’re afraid we’ll end up on the street.
Spy movies no longer have the ability to conjure urgency – at least not like they did in the 1960s. And that’s what I think is missing from “Rogue Nation” – a sense of urgency. Not for Ethan Hunt and his team of comical do-gooders, but for the world itself.
That’s why I’m going to give “Rogue Nation” a B. It’s an entertaining movie, but for me it lacked urgency.
Oh, and it lacked Furiosa.
Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.