Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise that continues to deliver entertaining action and espionage thrills!
After five installments, one would think that a franchise would lose steam and yet Ghost Protocol proved everyone wrong in that regard a few years ago with easily the best film in the franchise. As a whole, the MI franchise has had its ups and downs. The first one is a fun espionage thriller, the second is laughably horrendous, MI 3 is entertaining yet forgettable, and, of course, Ghost Protocol became one of the better non-comic book based action films in recent years. So where does Rogue Nation place in the franchise? Let's find out!

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Genre: Action, Spy Espionage
Release Date: July 31, 2015
Running Time: 131 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Blends espionage and action, Tom Cruise is brilliant actor and stuntman, Great team dynamic, Simon Pegg is superb, Relatively good action direction, Better-ish villain, Classic James Bond feel, One unexpected plot twist, Iconic MI theme, Genuinely funny,

The Bad: A few unbelievable CGI "stunts" are laughable, Lacks as much tension as it could, Predictable at times,

Plot: 7.5/10- Ethan Hunt goes rogue yet again to take down an evil organization and eventually gets the team together to help him; you know, the typical day of an MIF agent. Rogue Nation's plot blends espionage with action in its narrative with a strong balance between the two. The plot moves along at a solid pace. The 1st Act plays out much like a classic James Bond film complete with a towering Eastern European lackey and an assassination attempt at a fancy place. While it can be said that Rogue Nation steals from a Bond film, it actually takes many of the fun elements and humor from the older Bond films, yet manages to keep things serious enough and not laughable. The later acts play out more like an MI film, but the heavier focus on espionage is more than welcome, even if a few plot points are predictable. Sure, the plot isn't anything special, but it does a solid job at blending the two elements and creating a fun film.

Characterization: 7.0/10- Rogue Nation's characterization is adequate, minimal, yet certainly adequate for this type of film. The main cast is likable and witty, thanks to the strong performances, but generally lack humanization, which isn't exactly a huge issue. The antagonist, Solomon Lane, is a fun, almost Bond-esque villain, with just enough motivation to make him a decent foil to the heroes.

Direction: 7.9/10- On one hand, Christopher McQuarrie's direction is high quality and superior to the mediocre action fodder and shaky-cam that is thankfully fading away. However, compared to the new standard of action direction in movies like Mad Max, The Force Awakens, and even Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation is relatively uninspired. Tom Cruise doing his own stunts is still a large part of the appeal, especially during the opening plane sequence or the motorcycle chase. The film also lacks a memorable set piece with tension and suspense. What's present is better than most action films, yet left me feeling like something was missing. Of course, the unbelievable car flip is completely out of place among the realistic action, as well as the underwater scene, which lacked tension. Essentially, Rogue Nation's action direction is high quality, yet not as innovative compared to the best of its contemporaries, which isn't exactly a flaw. With that said, if you are not the type to analyze action direction, then you probably would not even notice.

Acting: 8.1/10- Tom Cruise will almost always give a strong performance, along with believable stunt work and Rogue Nation is no exception. Simon Pegg is equally as brilliant in his role, as his performance adds a bit of humanity to his character. Rebecca Ferguson is receiving much praise for her role, and while she does a great job, it isn't anything revolutionary. The rest of the cast from Alec Baldwin to Sean Harris all did a decent job in their roles.

Special effects: 7.3/10- The special effects are hit and miss. The sequences with mostly practical effects are top notch and well executed. However, the more CGI heavy sequences, like the underwater scene and the ridiculous car flip felt off and break the realism and tension.

Soundtrack: 6.0/10- Joe Kraemer's score is fitting, yet rather uninspired. On its own, the score bland and in the movie it works well enough. Of course, the classic MI theme is always welcome.

Humor: 8.3/10- Rogue Nation's quick wit and humor is a key aspect of the film's success. It is not funny all the time, but when it tries to be funny, it works, which sets the tone. There are a few moments of unintentional humor during the "suspenseful" scenes, but otherwise, Rogue Nation is a pretty funny movie.

Entertainment Value: 8.1/10- Rogue Nation is certainly an entertaining and fun film, especially for espionage fans such as myself. It is entertaining throughout without too many lulls in the pace. However, it is an optimal one-viewing film. It is just below the rewatch threshold, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But little about the film makes me want to watch it again, when I could be rewatching better films, like Ant-Man.

Overall: 8.0/10- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation does various things "very well," yet few things exceptionally. However, when combining all of the relatively strong aspects, Rogue Nation is a fun, entertaining, and mostly well directed action spy thriller that easily takes second place in the franchise.

Closing comments: Despite my criticism, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is still a very fun movie. Maybe watching The Force Awakens for the second time a few days prior set the bar for cinematic brilliance a little too high, especially in the filmmaking and direction departments.

Recommended for: Mission: Impossible fans, Tom Cruise fans, Spy movie fans, Action fans,

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  1. Like you say, this franchise now provides the fun, spy action that the Bonds used to. This is nothing special but was enjoyable from start to end - though I thought the villain was very, very weak. Loved that Cruise actually did that plane stunt for real for 7 takes! What a trooper!

    1. Exactly. And I agree, the villain was weak, albeit "better-ish" than the last movie. Agreed about Cruise and that plane stunt; that was great.


  2. I love the MI franchise and MI5 delivered the goods! I was worried when Paula Patton didn't sign back on, but Rebecca Ferguson was a great replacement! Plus I'm a big Tom Cruise fan, he's one of my favorite actors (wish he would take more serious roles like his old days, though). But he's totally misjudged because of his beliefs and the couch thing (which was blown way out of proportion). Good review James!

    1. Agreed about Cruise. I really don't if he is crazy or not, because that man can act! And his stunts are insane! He makes those MI movies work. Without him, they just wouldn't be the same. THanks Matthew!


  3. I LOVED THIS MOVIE. Of course, I haven't seen the other movies to compare them, but I enjoyed the heck out of myself when I went and saw this at the movies. Anywho, nice review! :D


  4. Good review James! You make some good points about the things that you didn't like as much. Compared with Star Wars it isn't as great visually, and compared with M:I4 its action scenes aren't quite as memorable. Personally though, I enjoyed them more. I loved the car chase, (I love that it was Cruise and Pegg in the car the whole time!) and didn't even think about how unrealistic the flip was! :P And, that underwater scene was like, the most tense I've ever been in a theater. I used to swim and would get those spasms when your lungs are trying to pull in air -- only after less than a minute, instead of four or five or however many he did. :P So that bit freaked me out! Oh and about Rebecca Ferguson, I think the big to-do everyone made over her was less about her character (though her character is great but not exceptional, like you said) but more about her screen presence. The star quality or whatever it is. Tom Cruise asked her to be in the movie because of it. Everyone was just wondering how in the world we'd never noticed her before! Anyway, I'm glad you found it fun and entertaining in spite of its few shortcomings. :D


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