Mission: Impossible - Rouge Nation (2015) (PG-13)

I think I was a little concerned with the beginning of "Mission: Impossible - Rouge Nation" when the largest, most hyped stunt was over within the first five minutes, before the main title sequence had even rolled by. This is the moment we've all seen in commercials, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) clinging to the outside of an airplane as it takes off. Tom Cruise, naturally, actually did this, but the film doesn't let the shock and awe sink in enough....I mean, I think ol' Tom deserves a bit more credit for actually hanging onto the outside of an airplane during takeoff; but anyway. That was the moment we were all waiting for and just like *that* it was gone, whisked by and suddenly we were left wondering if the film could ever top that moment.
Don't worry. It'll all be fine.
"Rouge Nation" plays a lot like a collection of other espionage franchise movies. There is nothing special here, it's got a dash of 'Bourne", throw in some "James Bond" and homages to the previous installments of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, and you've got yourself something far from original and riddled with cliches but undeniably and exhaustively entertaining.
There's a crisis in the government. The IMF program is currently under fire from the CIA, namely Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) who sees the program as unstable and reckless, only obtaining desirable results by happenstance rather than actual merit. It seems that the powers that be agree with him and M William Brant (Jeremy Renner) has no choice but to let the program slowly disintegrate while Ethan Hunt is still in danger.
Hunt doesn't make it very far before being captured by nefarious minions, blank faces with Russian ties who are supposedly dead...the film is quite cheeky about some of the names of these characters, but you kind of expect that sort of thing from the franchise by now. I will say this, nothing can compare to how dismal "Mission: Impossible II" was, so we don't have to worry about that debacle again, this is miles ahead of John Woo's fart of a film.
Anyways....Hunt begins to suspect that there is a team of cooperatives out there, a league of terrorists that are trying to bring around mass destruction because...well...just don't think about it. I mean, they're evil, do they really need a motive? This is where the movie has it biggest and most obvious fault: the villain. Of course, there's a Blofeld-like super villain (Sean Harris) and of course we never really understand what he's really about, but the trickery the movie pulls by non-stop action and quick one-liners never really leaves us wanting that crucial bit of information, though it would have been a much stronger movie if we had had that.
At the helm, taking over for Brad Bird's magnificent "Ghost Protocol" breath of fresh air is Christopher McQuarrie, who (if you don't know) is the Oscar winning screenwriter for "The Usual Suspects". This man knows how to craft a movie because he also wrote "Edge of Tomorrow" and that wasn't half bad. Still, "Rouge Nation" proves that his best work might be behind him, but he still knows how to put on a hell of a show.
Benji (Simon Pegg) has a much larger part in this movie and Pegg fans—or "Pegglets"? (I just made that up, feel free to use it)—will be happy to see his inclusion. He's funny, emotional, and demanding of a larger role and he doesn't disappoint.
Another character of intrigue is a mysterious woman (Rebecca Ferguson) whose intentions are never quite certain but she certainly catches Hunt's eye more than once.
Lastly there's the token black guy Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) who really serves absolutely no purpose in the film whatsoever, but his presence doesn't bog anything down.
Here we get to the movie's diversity problem. There's only one black character and one female character in the entire film. Sure, minor characters pop up, but the substantial amount of time that Rebecca Ferguson serves as the female eye candy and Ving Rhames serves as just the wise older black man is staggering. With this in mind, I'll cast my thoughts back to "Jurassic World" which had the exact same problem. I'm not saying every movie has to be inclusive of every minority, but when you include so little, it's a reminder to the audience of the state of the industry....that doesn't keep the movie from being entertaining, it's just food for thought.
Actually, when you put "Rouge Nation" in conversation with "Jurassic World" the clear winner on every count is the spy movie. There's even a "screw you" moment aimed (most likely) right at "Jurassic World" that involves running in high heels.
Okay, off my soapbox.
All this aside, Ferguson is one of the true delights of the movie because her presence is never forced nor stereotypical. She does have to fight cliches of the genre, but both she and her character manage to please the male-dominated world and keep their head high. It's kind of a relief to see this.
While the movie's plot does go too quickly at parts and needs more explanation (or less, either works), the action is really what you come for and what you stay for.
And can I just say that Tom Cruise is like 100 now and he has still got it. You may not like him, but he is a very credible leading action star.
The stunt work is phenomenal, the CGI is never too distracting and some of the more tense moments actually bring you to the edge of your seat.
Consider "Rouge Nation" as a survey of all successful espionage thrillers, taking what works best for each of those and compiling it into its own movie. How could it not be a success?
It's gaudy, shrieking to be seen, and a pleasure to watch. While it does, at times, play out like a commercial for BMW, what a fun commercial it is.
If there's another installment, count me in, "Mission: Impossible" is keeping ahead at full speed. Just go to the theater and see it, it's a perfect summer action flick: mindless, full of action, and entertaining.

Score: ★★★

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