Impossibly Fun (Rogue Nation Review)


Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to head on over to the cinema and catch Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg bust out some old-school spy craft against the latest international threat!

In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the fifth and latest of the MI series, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) discovers a shadow organization called The Syndicate - a group of highly-trained agents, much like hunt himself, responsible for a number of terrorist acts around the world. Hunt makes it his mission to bring The Syndicate down and make them answer for their crimes.

But further complicating matters is CIA director Alan Hunley (Baldwin), who lobbied and succeeded in disbanding the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). He believes the IMF to be redundant and ineffective, and suspects that Hunt may be creating the problems he claims to be preventing to rationalize the existence of the IMF. So now with both the Syndicate and CIA after him, Hunt must go off-grid to stop the nefarious organization from wreaking more havoc on the world!

Rogue Nation starts off strong. With that epic hanging off the side of a plane scene we all saw on trailers. From then on it goes through the usual motions of a great spy story – a captivating conspiracy, a mysterious and sultry woman, beautiful exotic sets and destinations, cool high-tech spy toys (electronic skeleton key FTW), high-speed chases, gun fights, hand-to-hand bouts, heists, camouflages, sleek suits, deception, agendas, switching allegiances, secrets on top of secrets, and suave and sexy leading men. And formulaic as it was, it’s what made MI 5 incredibly enjoyable. It uses old tropes but makes it fresh and exciting.


But take note that if you’re looking for an espionage thriller that’s grounded in reality, you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere. Unlike the Bond and Bourne series, MI has more fantastic and outlandish elements to it. (The good guys are called Impossible Mission Force, I mean, just how serious can you take them?) And it’s even more so in the latest MI installment. Accepting a certain level of campiness is one of the prerequisites for enjoying this movie. 

The film is most enjoyable during its massive and sensational action set pieces. A certain underwater scene had me at the edge of my seat! I’ve never seen something like that in an action movie before and it was well-made and suitably tense! An adrenaline-fueled motor cycle chase was equally exhilarating and the gun and knuckle fights we’re expertly done as well, especially when it involved franchise newcomer, Rebecca Ferguson. Even though it feels silly at times, no one can cry foul on Mission Impossible’s fun adventure romp.


But nearing the final act is where disappointment sets in. The plot gets a tad convoluted - it gets hard to keep track of all the players on the board, who’s sided with whom, what’s everybody’s agenda at the time and what it is exactly that they’re all looking for. A second viewing might help, for sure, but there was a point in the film when I found myself befuddled and trying to catch up.

Neither was the payoff to the complicated plot all that rewarding. The main antagonist Janik Vinter, played by Sean Harris, came off as a kooky, try hard, knockoff Bond villain. He’s supposed to be a physical and intellectual match for Ethan Hunt, and yet we never truly see his cunning and skill. And ultimately, taking him out was as simple as goading him into a foot chase. Vinter was cliché, without any sophisticated motivation, and unthreatening.

Criminal Organization Mastermind? Nah. More like a glorified thug.

It’s also around the time you notice that two of the previous installments’ more iconic characters have been sidelined the whole time – Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt and Ving Rhames’ Luther Strickell. Jeremy Renner’s character was primarily concerned with the groups’ political image - a letdown, considering that in the previous movie, he looked like he was being poised to replace Ethan Hunt down the road. And given Renner’s fighting prowess, it was tough not to see his character throw a single punch! Ving Rhames, I thought, would have a significant role in the movie. But alas, he doesn’t do much but provide minimal assistance to Ethan’s mission and be a soundboard for Brandt. Both well-loved characters could have played a more active role in the story.

Where were YOU guys this whole time??

But that’s not to say Tom Cruise couldn’t carry this movie on his own. Tom Cruise has the chops to pull off the most demanding action beats and the effortless sex appeal to give justice to the moniker “international man of mystery”. And honestly, who wouldn’t pay to see Tom Cruise as an international super sleuth? He hasn’t slowed down a bit in his age and still manages to pull off his own stunts! He actually hung off the side of a plane while it was taking off! It’s/He’s insane! Props to Mr. Cruise!

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The spy world's dynamic duo.

And with the new girl, Rebecca Ferguson, the movie was in good enough hands. Her great chemistry with Cruise translated in some of the franchises more exciting fist fights. Hunt’s line in the movie “We’ve never met before, right?” almost seemed like a meta remark on how well they jive together on screen. She’s like a female Ethan Hunt and I wish they keep her for the next film. 


(cue nosebleed)

But the real star this time around was Simon Pegg. Of all the characters, he was the one who I thought gave both the most entertaining and emotional performance. Even if he’s only appeared in two MI films so far, he’s already a personal favorite. His sensitive and lively Benji makes for a great buddy and foil to Cruise’s intense and stern Ethan Hunt.

From Star Trek mainstay to Mission Impossible mainstay. Shaun sure has gone places

Rogue Nation wasn’t the best in the series. But the convoluted and inconsistent plot, and the underwhelming finale were offset by its well-orchestrated action beats, a strong showing by its three main characters and the overall spectacle of Hunt’s off-grid, globe-trotting spy adventure! Cruise once again defies his age and the franchise’s by coming out with another strong installment for the never-ending spy series.



* First seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles!

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