SEQUELITIS is defined as the decay of quality in a film franchise with each new film. A lot of otherwise great films do suffer from it, almost too many to count. While Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol was said to be showing signs of it, the IMF once again prove that they can keep up with the best with Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation.
During this fifth instalment in the spy series, the Impossible Mission Force face their greatest enemy: a secret organisation, with the same skillset as the IMF, intent on destabilising the world one mission at a time. With CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) on their tail due to the destruction they cause, Agents Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – along with the returning Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) – must once again work in the shadows. Pursued at every turn, their only lead is the mysterious Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson).
In a departure from the previous Mission: Impossible films, Rogue Nation expertly combines espionage and bombastic action, with an intricate plot woven in. The film moves from signature car chases and incredible stunts to the modern cloak and dagger subterfuge often seen in the 007 series with surprising grace. Such grace, in fact, that the audience is never lost in the narrative’s complexity.
To add to this mixture, the comedy doesn’t sully itself with the plot, preferring to be lightly sprinkled on top like a spice to brighten up the otherwise serious tone of the film. Director Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed the Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher and penned The Usual Suspects, really plays to his actors’ strengths. Newcomer Baldwin really eases into his role like he’s an IMF veteran, Rhames is well at home in this regard, and there should be a special shoutout to Rebecca Ferguson, who dons her femme fatale heels far better than any of Bond’s recent girls.
The only real nitpick that can be taken from the film is its setup; the execution itself may have been far better, but the first 15, maybe 20 minutes of the film’s setup could very well be used for the past few MI films. It’s wonderfully done, but the premise can only really be done once before it seems trite and cliché. If it wasn’t for the cleverly thick espionage, this would have been a very mediocre action film.
Overall, it’s an excellent espionage film, with an added MI flare. One day we will look back and see Rogue Nation as what future Mission: Impossible films should aspire to. It’s nowhere near perfect: the action sequences are empty and, apart from a few standout moments, it’s your typical action flick. What sets the film apart from other American bombastic thrillers is its fearlessness to delve into the world of espionage, without leaving its explosions behind. One of the true American Spy films. Miles behind our very own Bond, but a real contender for the American 007 position.