Published on July 31st, 2015 | by Brad0
IMFridays – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
So with fanfare and aplomb, just three and a half years after the most popular and most successful entry into the franchise, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation hit cinemas worldwide yesterday. Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, leading his team on a quest to take down a shadowy terror organisation known as “The Syndicate”, previously mentioned in the mission briefing Ethan was listening to as he walked away at the end of Ghost Protocol.
I think we’ve pretty well established by this point that I’m a fan of this series, and of its star. I will follow Tom Cruise’s career through thick and thin, and I will be first in line any time he wants to go gallivanting on a spree of global destruction for the IMF. I’ve been looking forward to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ever since it was announced. I never for a moment imagined it would be as good as it is. This film is sensational. It’s very comfortably the best Mission: Impossible, and one of the absolute best films of Tom Cruise’s career. Everything about it works perfectly.
After the raw spectacle of the opening scene, each of the three acts is centred on a pretty fantastic set-piece, taking in trips to Vienna, Casablanca and London. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie crafts each sequence beautifully, twisting the knife in your belly in a manner which would make Alfred Hitchcock proud. Through a combination of very creative choreography, mostly practical effects and Tom Cruise’s commitment to doing his own stunt work, everything on screen feels both visceral and outlandish in equal measure. The Vienna Opera scene in particular has more wit, creativity, tension and excitement than most thrillers do in their entire run time.
Anchoring it is a great cast. After being strangely marginalised in Ghost Protocol, Ethan is back at the heart of the film in a big way here, and Tom Cruise – as always – absolutely brings the goods. He’s supported by the returning trio of Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). The Three Amigos (as I’m now dubbing them) have a great dynamic both together and with Cruise, and they get some great laughs along the way. Also involved on the American side is Alec Baldwin as the CIA executive looking to take down the IMF due to their previous missions’ propensity for wanton destruction and chaos. Baldwin’s role is basically that of a sanctimonious, speechifying arsehole, which he can pretty much do in his sleep. He has a lot of fun with some juicy monologues to sink his teeth into.
After the relative disappointment of how little Michael Nyqvist got to do in the previous film, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation rectifies that problem in spectacular fashion. Sean Harris stars as Solomon Lane, head of The Syndicate and international terrorist megalomaniac extraordinaire. He’s cold, calculating and utterly chilling. For me, Lane can stand toe to toe with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian from Mission: Impossible III and there wouldn’t be much to choose in it. His henchmen are a pretty standard bunch, but one other character in The Syndicate stands on her own, a class apart from everyone – Ilsa Faust, as played by Rebecca Ferguson.
A bit of research shows that I have seen Ferguson at work before, as the daughter of the villain in Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules. She’s not particularly memorable in it, but then she didn’t have a lot to work with as I recall. Ilsa Faust is a different kettle of fish entirely. She’s a rogue British agent, playing everyone against everyone. She’s Hunt’s equal in every way, and she saves him at least as many times as he does her. She is as resolutely the co-lead of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation as Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is in Mad Max: Fury Road. And Ilsa is every bit a match for Furiosa. The Mission: Impossible series has decent form with its female leads, with even Nyah and Julia showing plenty of agency even in captivity, but Ilsa is the stand-out. Ferguson is an absolute revelation in the role, equally adept as the biggest badass in the room and vulnerable in her frustration when certain things don’t go the way she had hoped. I hope this leads to a big future for her in other films, because on this evidence she’s more than capable of being something special.
Off the top of my head, I can find no fault with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It’s a great spectacle, exciting, tense, funny, with a cracking plot and a superlative villain. Christopher McQuarrie shows a real appreciation for what makes the series so great, and a fine talent for honing that into the best Mission: Impossible to date. Your mission is to make this great movie a huge hit. Choose to accept it.