Mission Impossible–Rogue Nation

If they awarded Oscars for best stunt work—and by the way, that’s not a bad idea—Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation would be the favorite at this point. This has been a series built around images and eye-popping stunts from the beginning. Tom Cruise suspended from the ceiling is an image that has entered the popular imagination, copied and parodied endlessly. It has always been more about style than substance.
You don’t really need to know the plot do you? Oh, very well. The IMF is disbanded at the request of CIA director Alan Hunley, played by Alec Baldwin, who is tired of their cowboy approach to operations, even though they get results. Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, is after a secretive organization called “The Syndicate.” It is made up of ex-operatives from the international espionage community and they are all every bit as well trained as Hunt’s crew and there are hundreds of them. Unfortunately, nobody in the CIA believes the Syndicate exists and Hunt becomes a wanted man.
As mentioned the stunt work is top notch and that’s almost enough to make the movie worth it. The problem is that they don’t really build. When you start with Tom Cruise hanging off a plane as it takes off, there’s not a whole lot that can top that. Also the action isn’t clear or clean. There’s a scene where he has to replace a chip in a computer that’s under water. He gets the chips mixed up and they never tell us how he knows which is which. Maybe he just guessed but that wasn’t clear.
There are also classic MI images of operations where Hunt is infiltrating a building and relying on a guy with a computer hidden somewhere opening doors and giving him intel. But you don’t get the feeling that they’ve meticulously planned these operations. They’re so good at this point they can do it by the seats of their pants? Half the fun in these things is knowing that the IMF will out think and out plan its enemies, not just beat them through sheer guts.
The acting is fine but let’s face it these are not challenging roles. Nobody really went beyond the cliché tropes found in hundreds of other movies of this type. And with this script there’s really no reason to.
Christopher McQuarrie both wrote and directed this movie. He tries so hard to make it complicated and subtle, but it winds up being convoluted and somewhat off-putting. All the plot machinations drive out any opportunity for characterization.
When you’re not giving your star and co-producer enough to do, it’s probably time to re-think your approach.
Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation is the first serious misstep in this franchise. Hopefully they’ll get back on track next time.

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