The Mission Impossible series has always been one of my favourite action movie series. I have fond memories of each movie in the franchise. Each movie is somehow completely different from the previous outings. The first one is a slow-paced (well, compared to its successors), espionage thriller; it was intriguing, had good action and yes, was sometimes boring, but was good enough to launch a stellar franchise. The second was an out-and-out action movie from John Woo; the plot wasn’t bad, but I got the feeling that the movie wasn’t about the plot as much as it was about those ridiculous, albeit entertaining action sequences. The third and my favourite managed to mix elements of its predecessors – it had a thrilling story, excellent action (oh, that bridge sequence) and such an amazing villain (Phillip Seymour Hoffman R.I.P.).
Then came the fourth one. Now, here’s my criticism of the fourth movie – it was a great action movie, yes, but was it truly a Mission Impossible movie? Not in my opinion. After MI:3 brought the series back on track following MI:2’s derailment of it, instead of trying to continue with the same formula, they tried to make Ghost Protocol a thriller/action/comedy flick. Benji was a damn clown, Tom Cruise did some serious overacting and I just didn’t feel any urgency in the movie even though there was the threat of a nuclear strike and possibly, World War III. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for Rogue Nation because by the time a series reaches its fifth installment, it starts to really suck (Die Hard, I’m looking at you). But, I was pleasantly surprised.
What impresses me the most in this movie is that they somehow manage to pull the best elements from all the other MI movies and make what is ultimately one of the most enjoyable movies of 2015. Tom Cruise is a good actor, but he made me forget that when I watched some of his previous outings where it seemed like he literally played the same character in every single movie; he’s acted in some really mediocre movies recently (Edge of Tomorrow not included) and he needed to find his footing again. And find his footing he does, by returning to a role of that he’s very familiar with. The attention this role gets him is well-deserved because he’s consistently churned out excellent performances as Ethan Hunt (Ghost Protocol was a little bit of a misstep) and this is no exception to the rule. Tom Cruise’s fitness amazes me especially since the guy’s 53 years old now. He also does most of his stunts himself, so watching him pull off death-defying tricks feels very realistic.
However, this isn’t a one-man show, the supporting cast is really strong and there are actually a greater number of members in Ethan Hunt’s “team” here, but sadly not all of them share equal screen-time. The standout supporting character is Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, who plays the role of the femme fatale. Now here’s the thing – she’s as big a badass as Ethan Hunt. There’s this scene in the beginning of the movie where she just throws down with a bunch of dudes and takes them all out! And her movement is so fluid that it looks like art. I was really surprised by how much I liked Benji in this movie. I’ll be honest, I thought Simon Pegg’s character was a terrible addition to this series because being comedic relief (he’s a damn good comedian though – just watch Sean of the Dead and you’ll know what I’m talking about), I thought he had no place in MI’s (until Ghost Protocol) serious world. Watching him turn MI:4 into an action-comedy was an eyesore for me because it seemed that the makers of the movie had shoehorned this “funny guy” into the movie just to make it a little more appealing to the masses. But, in this movie his humour doesn’t feel forced at all; his character seems very genuine and everything he does looks natural (for him). The fact that he gets a lot more screen time and also gets to kick genuine ass makes it a whole lot better.
The villain played by Sean Harris is menacing and so, so cold. He’s the best villain this series has had after the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. This guy is so sinister that for a moment there, I almost thought that the bad guy may actually win. His character is quite similar to Hoffman’s in the way that he sits back on his evil throne and watches over everything, but when crap hits the fan, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He exudes evil and you feel like killing with your bare hands if given the chance. These are qualities that most villains nowadays lack and it was refreshing to watch him function.
The plot in this movie is simple and nothing you haven’t seen before – an evil corporation is planning to take over the world and surprise, surprise, they have agents everywhere! However, what hooked me was the way this story is told and the several twists they add along the way really intrigued me. There’s a certain someone who you never really know is good or bad until the end which was a really good touch. This plot had as much urgency as that of MI:3 and it kept me on the edge of my seat. The action sequences are great and here’s the thing – they’re long and thus, let you savour them slowly. There’s less use of close-up shots during these scenes to give you a broader view on the action. There’s a lot of build-up to the action so it doesn’t feel forced and what makes it sweeter is that they take place in such breathtaking locations (well, most of them). Tom Cruise does his series signature daredevil stunt and it doesn’t disappoint. Though, I have to say that MI:4’s Burj Khalifa one was slightly better. There are tons of extremely tense scenes where I was holding my breath and clutching my armrest, waiting to see what would happen next. These kinds of scenes are always appreciated, especially in a movie of this genre.
All of these things combine to give you an exhilarating experience that is worth every penny. MI:3 is still my favourite of the series but this comes in a very close second and deservedly so.