Saturday, August 01, 2015

'Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation' Feels Like a Perfect 007 Film

In my opinion, this fifth Mission: Impossible installment is the franchise’s best yet.  Seriously, this franchise ages as gracefully as its star, Tom Cruise (can you believe that he’s already in his 50’s!) – both only get better with age.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation sees the return of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF colleagues Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames; the only character that appeared in all five films aside from Ethan Hunt) as they go against “The Syndicate”, a secret terrorist organization made up of rogue highly-trained international spooks presumed to be dead by their governments.  Teaming up with Ethan and his team is the enigmatic British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), whose allegiance is wrapped in ambiguity.

Growing up, I’ve developed a deep fondness for the 007 films – yes, even the silly ones – that I’m restricted by sentimentality to have Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation as my most favorite spy movie ever.  However, the greatest compliment I can give this movie is it’s what I imagine an ideal 007 movie should be.  Really.  The plot, the opening sequence, the tech, the villain, the tone, the world-hopping, etc. – Rogue Nation has the vibes of a 007 movie.  Heck, Ilsa Faust seemed like the greatest Bond girl ever (more on her later).  The only thing missing is the womanizing, but that’s a facet of Bond that I don’t care too much for anyway.  If Rogue Nation is a 007 movie, it could even have been my most favorite one ever.

Rogue Nation has flawlessly melded the exciting elements of a “spy movie as an action film” and the intriguing elements of “spy movie as an espionage drama” to create a perfect spy movie experience.  It’s equally action-packed and cerebral; its dose of humor isn’t out of place, works very well, and doesn’t cheapen the tension.  The plot may seem as unlikely as that of a 007 movie, but it’s not too far-fetched to be dismissed as something stupidly unrealistic.  The narrative is enthralling from start to finish; I found no dull moment.  And I find (MILD SPOILERS) the way Ethan Hunt won against the main antagonist extremely, fist-pumping-ly satisfying.

The stunts and action sequences are insanely stunning.  Intense hand-to-hand combats, shootouts, parkour, car chases, etc. – this movie has them all.  The notable scene from the trailers in which Ethan Hunt is hanging outside a flying plane was truly just the tip of the iceberg.

All of the main cast members – Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, and Sean Harris – deliver great performances.  They really put a lot of personality into their characters – making all these characters fascinating.

But the most fascinating character in this movie is definitely Ilsa Faust.  Among this year’s movie female characters, she’s only next to Mad Max’s Imperator Furiosa in greatness.  There are plenty of badass female spy characters (greatest of which is, of course, Black Widow) out there already, but Faust is definitely among the top of them.  I love the fact that she’s not an ultra-competent fighter who overwhelms opponents with ease.  She kicks butts, but she also gets hit.  This vulnerability adds additional depth to the character (and also reminds me of Buffy Summers, my most favorite female character in fiction) as much as her struggles as a spook assigned with an impossible mission.  The Mission: Impossible franchise tend to replace female characters with each new movie, but I hope I’ll see more of Faust in future installments.

Spin-off, anyone?

Prior to Rogue Nation, I’ve already been enjoying the Mission: Impossible movies very much.  But it’s only with Rogue Nation that I could really say that I’ve finally become an invested fan of this franchise.  If I will redo my list for top 10 fictional spooks, Ethan Hunt will definitely be in it now.

I’m now excitedly looking forward to the next one (I admit that I was a bit indifferent for new installments before).  As long as Tom Cruise can remain dedicated to this franchise and succeeding directors will be consistent in keeping everything fresh and thrilling, I would love to see this go to Mission: Impossible 10 (and, again, I hope we’ll  get to see more of Ilsa Faust).                                                        

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