August 6, 2015

Movie Review: Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

I find it hard to believe that it has been almost 20-years since the first Mission Impossible movie hit the big screen. I thought it was pretty odd at the time considering the whole team aspect of the old series and how this seemed to focus, primarily, on a single person. Of course that person is Tom Cruise, think what you will about his personal life, he is one of the last of the true movie stars and in this series, he is electric. For nearly two decades the Mission Impossible franchise has delivered consistent action to theaters and through it all, Cruise has been there to lead us through.

I have been trying to figure out just what it is about this series that has made it work. Cruise has to be considered as one of the factors. Another factor would have to be the creative teams working on it. When you say that John Woo made the weakest entry, you have to be on to something good. A third factor would have to be the lack of saturation. Think about it, 5 films over a 19-year span, for a series that is pretty devoid of any marketing tie ins. The only thing it really had going for it was name recognition of an old television series that the target audience was probably not that familiar with. Since all you have is the movies, they stand out a bit more, you don't have to worry about the action figures or fast food tie ins. The end result? Five solidly entertaining exceptionally made action films with a star who likes to do most of his own stunts.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation picks up where the third left off, with the team attempting to track down The Syndicate, a group the US Government does not believe exists. What we are presented with is an exciting thriller where Ethan Hunt (Cruise) gets his team together after the government shuts them down. You have good guys being chased by other good guys, pursued by bad guys, and aided by double agents.

This is a very well made action film with some thrilling action bits, an involving story, and enough energy to keep everyone awake for two hours. All of it is done with a straight face, there is no satire here. Although, to be sure, there is some comedy, bits of levity strewn throughout the screenplay to keep things light. The story may be a serious thing for the characters involved, but for the audience it is entertainment, making them walk the fine line of seriousness and levity.

Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie does a fine job making the balance work. The end result is a movie that is one of the better action films of the year. He does a great job of using the talent he has, from Cruise's natural charisma, to Simon Pegg's geekiness and solid comic timing, it all just falls into place. Rogue Nation may not be my favorite of the series (I think that may be Ghost Protocol), but that is taking nothing away from Rogue Nation.

The Mission Impossible series is sort of like an answer to the James Bond franchise. Not quite at the same level, but there is definitely a relationship. Considering what we have gotten so far, I would love to see this series continue. Big stunts, stars, action, thrills, comedy, this is what a well made summer action film looks like. Is it the best thing going? Of course not, but it is a movie to watch, enjoy, and appreciate.


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