Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (No Spoilers)
As with my other movie reviews marked appropriately, I will not spoil anything in the film. I may make allusions, but I review them properly to ensure that nothing is ruined.
That being said, I feel I must make another important distinction. This is my first real Mission Impossible film. As a franchise I'm sure I missed maybe an inside joke or two, or some of the characters may feel flat when they had character defining moments in previous films. So, I will be reviewing this film as a standalone entry knowing only some trademarked scenes (such as Tom Cruise running really hard, Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle, Tom Cruise performing his own stunts, and Tom Cruise dangling off ropes). I hope you enjoy!
My Initial Impression
The film is fun. It's full of action, doesn't require me to think (it actually kinda reinforces me not to think to be honest), and the action is really good. There wasn't much of a plot but then again I didn't really notice until I sat down to begin writing this review. There was a Big Bad and I didn't like it, and that was nothing I realized not long after watching the film. He doesn't get any better.
But the film is more than watchable if you enjoy your spy/heist/action films and I didn't really regret seeing it. I might have preferred waiting to watch it on Netflix, but if you're dying to go to the movies and the Fantastic Four film isn't out yet (which I'm desperately hoping is good when it comes out in less than a week of me writing this), this isn't a bad choice.
Alright, there's an agency called the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) that takes on incredibly difficult missions covertly in the interest of the United States. Apparently they are more than a bit reckless, blowing up the Kremlin in Russia on a previous mission. This causes them to be disbanded and their assets transferred to the CIA (headed by Alec Baldwin in a perfectly acceptable performance). However, Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is aggressively pursuing an organization called Spectre...I'm sorry, the Syndicate (James Bond preview was preceding this film). Some authorities believe that Hunt is creating this group up to have a reason to act on his own and look to bring him in. Hunt meets a female agent who helps him after he's captured by this 'anti-IMF' group and the 'plot' thickens.
By reading this description, it really doesn't sound like this film lacks the potential for a good story. But somewhere between Cruise flying out of a plane without a proper parachute and before the final confrontation with the Big Bad the story becomes streamlined extremely quickly. There are twists, but they happen so fast and they're so small they feel more like little divots in the road of this story. Your mind will feast more on the action pieces and may forget why they're in Morocco or Vienna or London. A lot happens in this film, although it's certainly not driven by its story but by its action pieces. That being said, the plot does not at all interfere with the film, so is it really that bad all things considering?
Much of the film follows Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt goes here, does this, beats up these guys, uncovers a piece of the puzzle, moves to the second place and ad nauseum. As my first real Mission Impossible film, I couldn't connect to his role at all but I'm not sure that I'm supposed to. He's a machine, driven to do the impossible things (hence the title) while only stopping to think of how to accomplish said goals. As I will go on later to say, I enjoyed this film which makes this one of those times I can't mesh with a character in the film (emotionally or intellectually) and still enjoy it, so that's saying something.
Rebecca Ferguson plays the female lead in a somewhat convoluted role (I said I wasn't going to spoil anything, which I'm not going to, but I never really felt the impact of the twists or plot to be fair). Her character is portrayed to be every bit as capable as Ethan, although maybe not as mentally strong (she fully believes the Big Bad simply can't be stopped).
The rest of the cast is okay I guess. They are there for their specialized expertise and support system for Ethan to accomplish the mission (I'm not sure why there are two computer guys though). Jeremy Renner made me chuckle a couple times with his sarcastic flat delivery of certain lines but I didn't fully embrace the comedy of this film nearly as much as others this summer.
The Big Bad
I've mentioned before that I felt the plot was thin and used simply as an excuse for the film to happen, a transportation vehicle to get from one scene to the next. Nowhere does this shine more than with the Big Bad. Setting aside the fact that his voice annoys me to no end, he is incredibly generic, after money and anonymity despite what his actions could affect. Without really spoiling anything, his mission is one of revenge, and one I really couldn't care about.
He has no defining moments displaying his evil-ness and only kills two people on screen, one who is an agent whose name was mentioned once (so if she's important in previous films, I have no idea). The protagonists of this film say he's something of a brilliant tactician but nothing he does really has a great effect and doesn't slow the heroes down whatsoever. In fact, the villain isn't much more than a speed bump in the plot after he's first introduced.
As far as I recall, there's no cursing or really any sexual encounters. The female lead displays plenty of leg in one outfit and removes her shirt with a bare back for about two seconds. Really, it's more of the violence that should be considered, but even that is bloodless and not overdone. I guess if you've got a fear of drowning or heights there's a couple of scenes to consider, but this isn't a film you should really be worried about.
This film, as I haven't seen any other Mission Impossible movies from start to finish (I remember chunks of whichever one was with Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but as a standalone film, it's very clearly the epitome of a summer blockbuster. The plot is there simply as an excuse to see Tom Cruise go from one stunt to another, either beating up hordes of faceless bad guys, using cool gadgets, or hanging off the sides of planes. While the plot is thin, they have insurance with an attractive female lead when you're in-between action pieces.
Is it bad? Not at all, but it's pretty clear what you're getting from the trailers already. Tons of great action scenes, thin plot and no character development. I'm not sure if I would have appreciated this film more if I had seen others, but this specific film hasn't made me want to drop what I'm doing and go watch more.
- You came here for the big action and stunt scenes and you get them
- Characters are bland proponents to be used in action scenes
- Plot is bland and used as an excuse to get to action scenes
- Big Bad is generic and uninteresting (and I hate his voice)
- But the action scenes are really worth seeing, just maybe by the time it rolls into Redbox or Netflix
- If I had to, I'd say this is on the same level as Ant-Man. I can't speak for the larger world of Mission Impossible as this is my only real entry into the series.
Do you plan on seeing this film?
Check out some of my other reviews of summer films in 2015.