Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation has crisp action and pacing, but suffers from a slightly nonsensical plot. It's likely that the script was written around the action pieces. While any movie this fantastic needs suspension of disbelief, there's a point in the story where everything could have been wrapped up neatly. But then you'd have a seventy-minute film without the explosive climax. Tom Cruise, who hasn't aged in a decade, will thrill audiences with his death defying stunts. Hanging from airplanes, pummeling Euro baddies bare chested, hurtling through Morocco on motorcycles; this latest installment is a clear testament to Cruise's viability as an action star.
Rogue Nation begins with the IMF disbanded by congress. A snarky CIA director (Alec Baldwin) has had enough of Ethan Hunt's (Cruise) destructive tactics. While Brandt (Jeremy Renner) deals with government bureaucracy, Hunt is captured by a diabolical organization called The Syndicate. He escapes death with the help of a mysterious woman (Rebecca Ferguson), who is somehow involved with the enemy. On the run from the US government, Hunt realizes that The Syndicate has orchestrated global chaos for years. His only clue, a brief encounter with their sinister leader (Sean Harris). Tactically outsmarted and a fugitive, Hunt knows that the only men he can trust are his fellow IMF agents: Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames). They must ally with a possible traitor to discover The Syndicate's ultimate goal.
There are two flaws in writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's script. First, the villain, who is near mythical in his abilities to outsmart our protagonist, acts foolishly in the finale. Bad guys lose in movies, obviously. But you can't build someone up to be a genius, then have him behave unwisely. This usually drives me crazy, but it's not unforgiveable here because the film works regardless. Then you have the subplot with Rebecca Ferguson. Is she good or bad? Her motivations are gradually revealed, but as an exercise to fuel the action. She could have easily explained her situation after a key scene. Everything after is simply theatrics.
While Cruise is front and center in this film. A nod has to be given to the supporting cast. Simon Pegg adds much needed comic relief and has become the perfect sidekick. Pegg's the ideal foil to the unstoppable alpha male behemoth of Ethan Hunt. Ving Rhames doesn't do much, and in fact hasn't been that pertinent to the previous two films. But there's something comforting and familiar about Luther Stickell. I liken him to this franchise's 'Q'. He's an integral supporting character that says little, but carries significant presence.
McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun, Valkyrie) knows how to construct a taut, muscular film. Rogue Nation is a bonanza of fights, chases, and gadgets. There really isn't a dull moment here. Despite the shortcomings of the plot, this is a summer blockbuster that delivers the popcorn movie goods. You can raise a critical eye to Rogue Nation, while admitting its pure entertainment value.
The Mission Impossible franchise has never been great or terrible. Every film has been worth seeing. Rogue Nation is par for the course. I honestly can't rank this film as better or worse than the others. Credit Tom Cruise the producer for establishing a standard quality. It really is amazing how youthful he looks in his mid-fifties. It's definitely not impossible to see him playing this character for years to come.