Tweetable Takeaway: The stunts are spectacular, the plot is bloated in this latest impossible mission. Tweet
By: Wil Loper, Contributor
It’s time for another impossible mission, and another chance for Tom Cruise to hang off the side of a fast-moving vehicle. A train in the first Mission: Impossible, a plane in this 5th iteration, and no doubt a shuttle in space headed to Mars in the 6th. Or perhaps they’ll save that for the 8th. As far as Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation goes, come for the advertised stunts, reluctantly stay for the bloated plot.
Rogue Nation begins in the best possible way for the action franchise: a crazily impressive stunt involving the aforementioned Cruise hanging on the side of a plane. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it also has the unfortunate effect of setting the bar for the rest of the movie. A bar that the rest of the film doesn’t even begin to reach for. Such a set piece would better be suited near the end, or heck, even the middle of the film. So, what else happens? Cruise, reprising his role as Ethan Hunt, is tracking a terrorist group known as The Syndicate. This Syndicate sets out to terrorize the world with its generic name. Oh, and inciting civil wars and such. While Ethan is hunting the Syndicate, he’s simultaneously hunted by the CIA after his organization, the IMF, is dissolved.
The plot that follows is often more convoluted than enjoyable. None of the Syndicate’s acts of terror ever feel immediate. Characters like Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust have such criss-crossing loyalties that by the fifth double-cross, audiences just don’t care any more. Flash drives that are meant to have one kind of information turn out to have another, then a third story is given. One well thought out twist is a surprise; eight twists become predictable and boring, no matter how thought out each twist is.
Still, one can’t deny how fun the movie is when the action gets underway. The “impossible mission” in this film involves Ethan accessing an underwater terminal. Beforehand, all the details are laid out in the plan, and what all has to go right. Which makes the scene all the more fun when all those parts of the plan start going wrong. A little later, Ethan and his tech whiz buddy, Benji (Simon Pegg) embark on a car and motorcycle chase. The interplay between characters is one of the movie’s strongest suits. Both Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner reprise their roles from earlier Mission: Impossible movies and provide levity that is all too welcome.
As the motorcycle chase begins, Rhames and Renner feverishly attempt to join, only to find the vehicle they chose unsuited to the proceedings. A brief, but hilarious argument ensues, calling attention to the fact that a chase scene has just begun and they can’t join it. The franchise is reaching a point where self-aware jokes should be employed more often. You can just see the wink in Cruise’s eye when, for the umpteenth time a mission is called impossible by the characters in the movie. We know full well by now nothing is impossible, and the Mission Impossible movies can only pretend they are for so much longer.
Strangely, a setup that will no doubt lead the climax of the movie in motion is soundly deflated almost immediately. The team has to capture the British Prime Minister, and anyone expecting a crazy series of events to take place will be sorely disappointed. In fact, the entire third act is strangely devoid of excitement or inventiveness. There’s a bomb set for three minutes, but that’s about as tense as it gets. Again, looking earlier in the film one can’t help but scratch one’s head. The whole thing just seems backwards.
Crazy plane stunt starts us off, but a generic bad guy showoff finishes the affair with a whimper. One pines for the crescendo in Ghost Protocol wherein a nuke was set to hit a city and several characters had to accomplish a set of actions to prevent it. Ethan Hunt, in particular, had a fight scene in an automated, multi-level parking ramp. Perhaps Rogue Nation wants to set itself apart, to defy expectations and predictability, which is fine if there’s something to take its place, but here there’s nil.
Fans of the franchise will still find plenty to enjoy, but those new to Mission Impossible will find a movie that’s only a few cuts above the standard action movie. Rogue Nation is too long and convoluted to beat the best in the series, even if it does have one of the craziest stunts. Watch it once for the plane ride with Cruise, stick with the first Mission or Ghost Protocol for repeated viewings.
I give Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation 3 Tom Cruises on a plane out of 5
Score: 3 out of 5