A movie is an instant win for me when the sexy protagonist takes a moment before chasing down the villain to properly remove her heals. Screw all this Jurassic World nonsense: no one’s going to believe that Claire Dearing tracked dinosaurs through the jungle in beige stilettos. But believing that Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’s Ilsa Faust really repelled from a rusty pole dangling off the opera house roof is easy because she took off her heals. Ladies: a lesson.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on the run. The IMF can no longer cover for his lucky flukes and is being forced to amalgamate with the CIA. Rather than coming quietly, Ethan uses the next six months and his secret stash of monopoly money (because how else could he pay for this lifestyle) chasing a ghost around the world. The ghost’s name is Lane (Sean Harris), and his goal is to refresh the world’s espionage circuit by killing numerous important people – and a few civilians just for fun. Ethan, hard pressed to take Lane down on his own, recruits the old gang including funny-man Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), tech wizard Luther (Ving Rhames), IMF director Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and the British spy-turned-terrorist-turned-undercover agent-turned-ally-turned-traitor-turned-victim Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson). After Ethan wins them over with his undeniable charm and a fancy PowerPoint presentation, they work together to try and match Lane’s game, anticipate his next move, and inevitably step where Lane wanted them to step. All the while the director of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) is chasing his lost sheep across the globe, trying to stay one move ahead of the guys trying to stay one move ahead of the terrorist.
When Ethan isn’t spending fictional thousands on the entire 2016 BMW collection he’s enjoying a leisurely day of pulls-ups, push-ups, hold-your-breath contests, and hanging off of airplanes. Yes Tom Cruise does his own stunts. No there is no green screen. Yes studios must be blackmailed into covering his insurance. Rogue Nation gives us a smorgasbord of injuries including stabbings, shootings, drownings, snapped necks, electrocutions, car accidents, scraped knees, and gassings. There were several moments when my theatre’s audience gasped or cringed in a collective, squinting, “Oouuu…”
Going rogue apparently boosts the action by a healthy percentage. Sure the IMF is a great source of income and resources, but who needs them when one can simply pull tailored suits, expensive cars, and the latest tablets out of thin air? Jason Bourne would be baffled by the way Ethan investigates various humanitarian disasters in broad daylight and still manages to evade security cameras for six months. To the CIA, tracking Ethan is like playing a world-wide Where’s Waldo. No one at the IMF has time for it, although they certainly have the resources to track him down. I never knew the International Monetary Fund had such a wide variety of responsibilities, from calculating economics to hunting terrorists. Hang on a minute…*Research*… IMF = Impossible Mission Force? OOOHHH. Things make more sense now…
It’s great to see Simon Pegg play such an important role in Rogue Nation, acting not only as the comic relief but as a field agent who gets to wear the fancy masks. He and the other rogue agents show off their years of training by anticipating every angle, keeping calm in the face of near-death, and not speaking openly about mission details. Well, that last one needs a little more practice. Talking about murdering heads of state in a public café is apparently no big deal. Neither is sharing top secret information with an informant sitting as far away as possible on the same park bench. For highly intuitive, secretive people they aren’t too concerned with being overheard in public.
Rogue Nation starts off with a bang and keeps an unbelievably fast pace throughout. It’s an action movie on steroids with freakishly intense strategy training. Rogue Nation is never boring, that’s for sure. Outlandish and gliding by on good fortune, oh yes. But not boring. The whole audience was wincing, gasping, and laughing their pants off in cult-like unison. Rogue Nation is extreme, clever, imaginative, and totally wicked. What better way to spend an evening than watching Ethan Hunt escape multiple assassination attempts and still walk away from a building on lockdown with a date? Rogue Nation is everything it promises to be and more. 9/10.