BR: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

January 7, 2016 | By

 

MissionImpossible_RogueNationFilm: Excellent

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Paramount

Region: A

Released:  December 15, 2015

Genre:  Action / Espionage

Synopsis: With his team and himself outlawed, Ethan Hunt goes ‘rogue’ to track down the ‘rogue’ spies attempting to establish a ‘rogue nation’.

Special Features:  Audio Commentary with actor Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie / 7 Making-of Featurettes: “Lighting the Fuse” (5:56) + “Cruise Control” (6:31) + “Heroes…” (8:07) + “Crusing Altitude” (8:23) + “Mission: Immersible” (6:44) + “Sand Theft Auto” (5:34) + “The Mission Continues” (7:07) / DVD Copy.

 


 

Review:

Although the fifth Mission: Impossible entry still involves an organization intent on bringing down world order – in this case, a ‘rogue nation’ picking off international leaders until chaos resets the overreaching power of western governments to zero – it also dips into a familiar ploy that gives franchises new life: render the ace team of spies as enemies of the state, and task them with finding the truth, saving world order, knocking out the real villain, and ultimately reinstating their group, thereby resetting the franchise to a fresh start point with one or two new team members.

Christopher McQuarrie revealed a keen interest to revisit the tone and practical effects – human stunts, real pyrotechnics and vehicles – in Jack Reacher (2012), and in reuniting with Tom Cruise, he’s delivered arguably the best in the MI franchise. Yes Cruise actually hangs outside of a giant military transport aircraft in the opening pre-credit teaser, but it’s the script and overall directorial approach that makes Rogue Nation such a superior entry in the franchise.

Brian De Palma opened the series with grand sequences and a sleek style, and with Robert Towne’s script, had a film with plot, wit, and tension. Things went awry when John Woo was brought in and imposed his style on the second entry which lacked a script and relied too much on Cruise’s Ethan Hunt as the only viable operative; MI was always about what the team could accomplish, and by jettisoning Hunt’s colleagues in Part 2, much of the film had Cruise ripping off masks after perfectly sneaking in and out of locales.

While the third film brought back team spirit and gave Ethan a wife, J.J. Abrams added ADD editing and his Alias structure – starting a story at mid-point with a torture sequence, then flipping back a few months and letting the film go – and there was a heavier reliance on CGI effects. Brad Bird’s handling of the fourth film was much closer to the original TV series, returning the focus to a team with new characters, and the unique gimmick of watching Cruise hanging outside of the Burj Khalifa tower in IMAX. New to the cast were Jeremy Renner as team CEO Brandt, and cyber-egghead Benji (Simon Pegg).

With Hunt and his smaller team of Benji and Luther (Ving Rhames) now ‘rogue’ in Part 5, they’re able to work in the same quarters as the mysterious woman who’s rescued Hunt multiple times while attempting to infiltrate the actual terrorists, headed by sleek & slimy Lane (Sean Harris).

McQuarrie’s script (with story contributions from Drew Pearce) is filled with action, sharp quips and wit, and unlike prior MI adventures, Hunt has a greater sense of humour, building on Hunt’s reactions to being trapped in impossible predicaments, being brought back from the dead, or recovering from serious body trauma after a rigorous chase, tossing, and collision with the ground. Rogue Nation is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the gravitas of Hunt needing to unearth Lane and bring him to justice keeps the film grounded, as does his mercurial relationship with newcomer Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a double-agent who does her own fighting with machismo and great skill.

That Ilsa and Hunt are paired as equals gives the film a different tone, especially since the secondary thread has her fidelity to one organization (legal, and rogue) in constant question, but enhancing the globe-trotting characters are some truly remarkable action sequences. McQuarrie uses sharp editing and montage, but when his characters fight, we see the choreography; and when they’re chasing each other through a mountainous region, the motorcycles, jeeps, and cars are real, with Cruise reportedly doing a lot of his own stuntwork.

Rogue Nation also contains one of the best chase sequences on film, and like Peter Yates and Bullitt (1968), McQuarrie singles out the cycle chase as the piece de resistance in the film’s gamut of action, opting almost exclusively for sound effects. Joe Kraemer’s score is one of his finest – a big, bold orchestral soundscape – but the sound design and cutting in that sequence shows what genuine directorial skill can accomplish instead of a team of animators performing the heavy lifting while actors moving around green screen material.

Rogue Nation does have digital effects, but they’re more discretely employed to enhance rather than dominate, allowing for natural character and vehicle movements so the final montage doesn’t resemble a swooping video game vignette.

Ferguson’s Ilsa is a welcome addition to the cast, being mysterious and sultry and kick-ass when necessary; Jens Hultén is creepy as the torturing Bone Doctor Janik; and Pegg’s Benji is put into more dire situations, giving the actor more dramatic material than the usual wry quips. (Perhaps the most unique casting choice involves a kind of ‘shared bone structure’: although it’s unintentional, both Harris and Simon McBurney as British spy head Atlee share the same facial design and bone structure as Pegg!)

With the franchise having taken this brief detour with Hunt & Co. gone rogue and back, and their IMF branch back from the brink of eradication, the franchise is set up to tackle another singular villain, unless its next director and writer(s) choose something more bold.

 

 

© 2015 Mark R. Hasan

 


 

External References:
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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