Mission Impossible - Rouge Nation (2015)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce.
Produced by: Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, David Ellison, Don Granger.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin.
The age of the movie star is dying out, you hear less and less of big name actors selling films based off their face alone. No, the group is pretty much limited to the quartet of old white guys. Those four are George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Tom Cruise (although Bradley Cooper may or may not be joining them in a few years time). Cruise in particular has had a resurgence as of late. His KNIGHT AND DAY and ROCK OF AGES were duds, but EDGE OF TOMORROW received some of the best reviews of his career, and his sole franchise, the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series is reaching its critical peak. The latest film in the series, ROUGE NATION, is a rollicking good time, with several set pieces that make it’s over 2 hour runtime a breeze to sit through.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is on the hunt (pun intended) for a mysterious organization known as The Syndicate. The IMF unfortunately has been dissolved, so he’s been named a terrorist by the head of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) and is separated from his team (Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg). What follows is an admittedly convoluted plot filled to the brim with espionage, stunts, set pieces, and more action scenes than you could ever ask for. The plot is a placeholder for Tom Cruise doing stuff, as such it is probably the movie’s weakest element.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – ROUGE NATION is a remarkable statement on where Cruise’s career is right now. The tabloids tell him he’s done, the changing movie trends tell him he’s done; everybody just wants Cruise to go away already, just like Ethan Hunt he is on the run. He is going to prove those people wrong by breathing underwater for several minutes, actually clinging to a plane, and doing his own motorcycle stunts. He’s the Steve McQueen/Jackie Chan variant of action hero, and we love him for it.
The film is continually riveting, with director Christopher McQuarrie always seeming to top himself at every turn. What’s remarkable about the pacing, and the atmosphere, is that despite the predictability of the plot, ROUGE NATION was constantly keeping me on the edge of my seat. The film was constantly tense, it was constantly exciting, it takes a master to make that work, and McQuarrie is only a part of the equation.
The game supporting cast is another huge part of what makes ROUGE NATION such a blast. The new love interest for Tom Cruise (I know he’s in his 50’s, but he looks like he made JERRY MAGUIRE yesterday, so I bought it) is Rebecca Ferguson, who plays a British agent working for the Syndicate undercover. This character was so much fun to watch, and Ferguson was a delight on-screen. Then of course there’s the returning cast members, all of which are entirely reliable. The show this time belongs to Simon Pegg’s Benji, who actually had me tearing up during the climax. Alec Baldwin is fun, if underutilized (he doesn’t insult anybody, boo).
The movie is as strong as its stunts, and the most jaw-dropping for me was definitely the motorcycle chase. Cruise is speeding through traffic, dipping past car after car, leaning on his motorcycle so much that he’s almost touching the ground. It took my breath away. There’s not much to be said about ROUGE NATION that hasn’t already been covered. It’s a really fun movie but it’s also a very boring one to review because you just go over all of the elements that worked. It is the best pure action movie since that movie with that one guy who was really mad (what was his name? Max?) See it in theaters, too many people avoid seeing a Tom Cruise movie in the theater now and this is one that warrants a theatrical experience.