Part IV and Part V are in a class by themselves. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is consistently amazing and features some of the best action cinematography of the last twenty years. There is a duel between assassins at a Vienna opera house that is the epitome of that virtue, with the choreography, the lighting, the timing and camera movement that go hand in hand. Tom Cruise reprises his most popular role as the fearless Ethan Hunt, and once again is up to hanging onto planes in flight, death-defying leaps from great heights, navigating through a water chamber that’s propelled with complicated turbines, car chases through peerless locales (this time London, England and Casablanca, Morocco) and a wonderfully twisty plot that depends on many role deceptions.
My favorite Impossible babe of the series is Paula Patton from Part IV’s “Ghost Protocol,” but the beautiful Rebecca Ferguson as British agent Ilsa, both regal and lethal, is probably Hunt’s best interaction with a female counterpart to date. It’s a tease about whether or not she is going to come back in the next installment. She’s pretty terrific.
The plot is rehashed but heightened and amplified from earlier scripts. Once again, the reputation of the IMF has been tarnished and as a result been disassembled by the American CIA (Alec Baldwin is the unforgiving CIA boss), and it’s up to Hunt’s team to clear their name and thwart a terrorist group that’s been formed by disgraced secret service agents from broken governments around the world. The villain is Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a smug pseudo-intellectual baddie whose evil mayhem can be bought off by money bribes. The plot consists of agent turncoats and assassination targets, lame duck government leaders and corrupt officials (secondary villains) – all of them culminating at some relatively logical end.
I can’t say I always knew what precisely was going on plot-wise – I’m thankful for the Prime Minister’s monologue in the last act, which once said, sorts out everything with marvelous clarity. But Christopher McQuarrie, the writer of “The Usual Suspects” and formerly unseasoned director of “Jack Reacher” (Cruise’s only limp thriller), always keeps you engaged by the burst of urgency even if you’re momentarily befuddled. His camera movement, and slow zoom-ins and zoom-outs with a specific crescendo tempo, is just like the panache that director Brian DePalma brought to the 1996 “Mission: Impossible” and is reminiscent of DePalma films in general.
I consider “Mission: Impossible II” to be the only loser, but this has become the most reliable of action franchises. Cruise is of course the producer of these films, and he brings in the best talent together to inspire the best execution of raw stuntwork. Rollicking and short on visual flaws, “Rogue Nation” is an instant action classic. Also with Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney, Jens Hulten and of course Simon Pegg’s perfectly timed comic relief.
131 Minutes. Rated PG-13
ACTION-SUSPENSE / THINKING TEENS / FRIDAY NIGHT THRILL RIDE