Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (M)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson

Over the last 19 years of the Mission: Impossible franchise, justification for the Impossible Mission Force’s (IMF) existence has lead to a tenuous relationship between the agents and it’s leadership.

Once again, the IMF is under scrutiny and the head of the CIA, Secretary Hunley (Alec Baldwin), wants Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the his band of rebellious brothers brought in from the field. As William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) tries to prove the IMF’s value from within the CIA, Ethan is trying to find and bring down the Syndicate, a rogue intelligence network which exists to destroy the IMF and all other intelligence networks.

Through an abundance of nail-biting situations, new gadgets and the reliance on their ever reliable masks, Hunt and his team travel the world to track down these adversaries. They must remain steps ahead of the CIA and have to partner with suspicious agents to find the identity of this villainous group and to prove their value.

This franchise has been directed by some of the who’s who of Hollywood over the years, from Brian DePalma to Brad Bird. The writer-turned-director, Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), has a daunting legacy to live up to with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. He manages to capture the heart of the action-packed formula, but does not offer much originality to the familiar storyline.

McQuarrie capitalises on Cruise’s willingness to put himself in so many precarious situations. The key difficulty with the heavy reliance on these stunts is believing that any person could survive so many death defying scenarios, but the action is not the problem with this cinematic experience.

There are two essential oversights, one is developing effective drama to connect the action sequences. The script attempts to poke fun at Cruise as the ageing agent and Simon Pegg provides the needed levity for all of the espionage action, but even these elements cannot give this film a lift from the ‘been there, done that’ feeling.

The rebellious foursome provides glimpses of the past banter that brought the humorous tension to the screen, but during this go around the dialogue seems forced. Even the newest addition to the franchise, Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) who plays Ilsa Foust provides the needed sexual tension and is an effective foil to Ethan Hunt, but does not seem to develop a connection with the IMF team.

After the weakness of the storyline, the second element that fails this production is a believable villain. The differentiating factor for great spy films is not found in the masculinity or athletic abilities of the star, as much as in the depth of evil the adversary provides.

Sean Harris (Prometheus) plays the smarmy portion well, but never gets to a level of villainy that delivers a healthy tension between the lead characters. Overall, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was not a complete loss. It is a good run-of-the-mill spy thriller and provides some entertaining moments, but in the end there is an agreement with Secretary Hunley’s original proposal, the IMF team should be brought in from the field and allowed to retire.

Within the genre of special agents and espionage, an overarching theme is trust. Who can be trusted? Continually throughout this instalment of Mission Impossible, the tension between Ilsa and Ethan is determining how far they can trust one another. It can be seen in the interpretation of a look or an action that provides the element of trust that pushes the storyline along.

On a larger scale, this is seen in the relationships between the IMF agents and the nations that are supposed to support their field work. The believability of trust is essential for effective storylines and all relationships. It is probably a key element of people considering a relationship with God, too. Is God trustworthy? Throughout the Bible, people fail in their faithfulness to God, but he continues to prove his trustworthiness.

It is worth taking the time to consider, that even though people can fail to be trustworthy, God is unwavering and proves his trustworthiness daily. Like the characters of Rogue Nation, there is comfort in determining who you can truly trust in this dark and mixed up world.

Leaving the cinema…

If you want unbelievable stunts and action, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the film for you. If you are seeking an original story line to connect the action, you will come away disappointed. This was an entertaining experience, but proves to be a franchise that has run its course.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
  1. Where is real hope found? (Deuteronomy 31:6, Romans 5:2-5)
  2. Can we really trust God? (Psalm 100:5, Isaiah 25:1)
  3. Why is it so hard to trust other people? (Proverbs 6:12-16, Romans 3:10-18)

Russell Matthews

Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.