I never knew a day at an opera house could be so intense.
Well, I guess we have to admit, wherever Ethan Hunt is at, life is never going to be slow. It only means trouble’s here. That pretty much justifies his presence. Kudos to Tom Cruise. he’s been at this for 19 years, 19 long years, emphasis on ’19’, yet he pulls it off yet again. Mission Accomplished. And he’s not showing signs of aging, at least physically. His stunts have gotten outright insane, some which we humans in our right minds would never sign up for (and even if we did, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish them). How does he one-up that Burj Khalifa scene, which was heart-pounding, and iconic and pegged ‘unreplicable’? Go and and do the impossible, that’s how.
Don’t say I didn’t warn, there WILL be spoilers ahead.
Okay, as I mentioned earlier, to make Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie were burdened with the responsibility to come up with something to beat whatever the previous film had to offer. Hence fulfilling that ‘Impossible’ part of the filmmaking process. So they went to the drawing board, or fear Paramount raging a year or two later over how much less appealing the latest Mission Impossible is as compared to the brilliant feat Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. In order to do that, McQuarrie had to bring his screenwriting skills to the highest level. And with that comes motorcycle chases in Morocco, underwater dive scenes in a highly guarded facility, foiling of an assassination attempt in Vienna, chase scenes in London, and of course hanging onto a plane as it goes off, as have been widely publicized.
Perhaps the most surprising moment from this otherwise generic film would be the airplane scene. How many of you would go in expecting to see it immediately after the film begins? Okay, me gazing through several reviews prior to catching the film did nullify its impact, but lets just say it still comes across as pretty daring. And for those hoping to catch more of that scene, lets just say that Paramount has marketed the hell out of it. To the point where almost the entire sequence has been directed and scattered throughout the marketing material. Just search for the clip, and add some ‘Ethan Hunt hanging onto the airplane’ sequence from the trailers, and that’s about it, save maybe 1 minute for infiltrating the plane and escaping with the nerve gas.
The film doesn’t really slow down after that brief sequence. Instead, it only builds up, remarkably. After Solomon Lane, the head of the Syndicate catches Hunt by surprise, and brings him back to a torture cell, its back to Hunt to save the day. Then he makes an unlikely alliance with Syndicate member Ilsa Faust, who happens to be in deep undercover for the British Government. Before moving on, lets talk about Ilsa Faust. She happens to be one of the best female characters I have seen in a while in an action film. I haven’t really caught Mad Max: Fury Road, but I heard Furiosa is the very definitely of a bad-ass female character in a movie. You get yet another one here. Well, I guess all that is helped by her mysterious nature. There isn’t an instance where you stop doubting whether she really is on Hunt’s side after all. She has many allegiances, making her dubious at best. Lets not forget the countless amount of times she saves Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt. Without her, lets say Hunt should well be dead within the first twenty minutes. Okay, Benji too. Okay, I’m gonna enter spoilery territory here. (SKIP THE BOLDED PARTS). She gave Hunt the keys to escape before he gets the chance to be tortured by the Bone Doctor in the torture chambers. She kills the man who’s having a brawl with Benji in the Opera House in Vienna. She rescue Ethan while he’s drowning after having held his breath for 3 minutes. Let’s just say without her, the story would have ended, and there won’t be a part 6. Yes, the sequel to this film has been green-lit, and production will begin as soon as 2016. Oh, and she and Ethan has great chemistry. Put them both together, and you get a great example of a male-female combo. You know what I mean.
The Opera House sequence has to be the most thrilling sequence in the film. Ethan has to stop a bunch of syndicate operatives who are hell-bent on killing the Vienna Chancellor, on their ongoing bid to carry out terror attacks on a worldwide basis. Christopher McQuarrie bring his expertise on thrills right over, and you see it on display throughout this sequence, all to the tune of Turandot.
The underwater sequence is no small scene either. You gotta respect Tom Cruise, for at the age of 53, he’s still as active and passionate about this stuntman career. He held his breath for 6 entire minutes, and one has to wonder how many reshoots this scene has to undergo through (say the plane scene required 6 retakes).
That’s followed by a motorcycle and car chase throughout Morocco, which isn’t something really new or original. We have seen it countless times before, just in different iterations. That’s followed by a lengthy bit of dialogue, all before the rather anti-climatic finale kicks in, involving (spoilers) Benji getting kidnapped, planted with a pressure-activated bomb, and a run-and-shoot sequence between Hunt and Ilsa and some other operatives.
Rogue Nation feels familiar, whether you admit it or not. That climatic sequence really brings back into our minds the first Mission: Impossible. That motorcycle sequence Mission: Impossible 2. That plane sequence Mission: Impossible 4. Those action sequences are remarkable, admittedly, and I enjoyed every second of it, even coming out thinking they all ended too quickly, but I’m going to have some trouble ranking any of those set pieces ahead of that now iconic scene from Mission Impossible, where Cruise was dangling on a rope while in a vault, and that scene from Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, where Cruise dangles on the exterior of the Burj Khalifa, as if it’s just another day in the life of a spy. The flow seems similar- Hunt and his IMF team is disavowed, yet again. The hot girl changes (and gets more wicked and capable too). The addition of Benji (Pegg), Brandt (Renner) and Stickell (Rhames) helps to make this get-going seem like its retreading older ground. It just makes it seem like McQuarrie is afraid of heading into new ground at certain times and trying something new. Lets also not avoid the fact that Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation suffers from losing steam right after the halfway mark. The film’s pacing feels sluggish as compared to the first half, and that finale really feels like a let-down, instead of a more bang-heavy finale. The finale was really well done, trust me, and it also further shows how well-trained Ilsa is, but I guess we were all hoping for more after the several big sequences which succeeded one another earlier on. It seems so much like McQuarrie got out of ideas at the end, and just had to concoct up an ending in order for the good guys to emerge victorious yet again. How I yearn for the villain to finally win one day. I’ve hardly seen that scene play out.
With this film, Simon Pegg gets a much bigger role than any other installment previously. He serves as great comic relief too, bringing endless amounts of humor, which somehow dies down as the film proceeds. Rebecca Ferguson is, once again, fantastic at her role, and proves she has the action chops within her. Its Brandt AKA potential future leading man of Mission: Impossible and Stickell AKA Hunt’s right-hand man since the first film which looks undercooked. They hardly appear, and even if they do, they are mostly stuck with the useless job. It’s Dunn that gets away this time round with all the fun.
Okay, in general, every character seems undercooked. Yes, Ferguson’s character was well developed, but there isn’t anything we haven’t already gotten from the rest of the team. They are who you previously imagine them to be. A bunch of superhumans who borderline on absurdity, doing things which most don’t have guts to do. They don’t feel afraid too. This film isn’t taking things too seriously, I gotta admit, but the lack of any traits which humanize these characters really make this worrying. Even Hunt’s only link to the real world, Julia (Michelle Monaghan) fails to appear in this film, being yet another victim of a forgotten character who’s disappearance is hardly explained. Ethan Hunt’s character seems to good to be true. We just will never see it on our version of Earth.
Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) has the brains behind this whole operation, but doesn’t have the physique. Yes, he was great behind the scenes, and when it comes to planning, he aces it. However, he doesn’t look as frightening anymore without his signature weapon (the pistol?) and gets trapped in the most ridiculous way in the end. Here’s more criticism to the finale. Sadly, he doesn’t live long when it comes to a one-on-one meet-up with Hunt. Okay, that’s probably why he’s leading an entire terrorist rogue organization in the first place, instead of being Ethan Hunt #2, so I’m not gonna blame anyone.
I understand that Mission: Impossible has always been a franchise hell-bent on beating itself and making the previous installment seem minuscule in comparison, in terms of scale and depth, and one borderlining on being impossible, but a bit of characterization and depth of characters, please? I guess I’m looking forward to 2017 for the next one though. Because no matter what criticism I have laid upon this film, please forgive me. It’s a fun, entertaining popcorn movie, and one of the last few blockbusters of the summer moviegoing season of 2015. It’s definitely one really enjoyable to watch, especially when what you want is a break. Being one who watched this in IMAX, I can more or less say that that upgrade in price really isn’t necessary. Just catch it on any screen you want. Your preference. Last two words to sum up, and here it goes- Mission Accomplished.
FINAL VERDICT: 8/10 (Fun popcorn movie, with a female character finally doing justice to her gender, more or less makes up for the lack of character development)
On a scale of A to F, where F means stupid and dumb and ridiculous, and anything that you possibly wouldn’t love, and where A symbolizes perfection,
Character Development: B-
Entertainment Factor: A
Pardon me for the change in my rating system, I promise I’ll standardize it soon enough, but I’ll probably be sticking with this one for now. I encountered a bit of trouble with the previous one, where anythingabove 80 or below 20 was difficult, due to the very nature of my rating system, no matter how horrible or how good the film in question was.