Ethan Hunt is no mere agent. He’s a force of nature that keeps pushing himself to the brink of imminent death every single time we meet him. Last time he hung on the side of a high rise, and this time he hangs along the side of a flying aircraft. Not to mention he merely drowns in one of the many close call operations he and the disbanded IMF commit towards. Tom Cruise lends the character an intensity and bug eyed gutsiness that make him a hero you want to root for, and someone you most definitely want on your side at all times. Hunt has met his match this time with the evil Lane (Sam Harris), a leader of a rising organization called the Syndicate, who is always one step ahead of Hunt, while sidekick Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) displays an enigmatic aura that makes Hunt uncertain if she’s friend or foe.
After witnessing the death of a young woman at the hands of a mysterious assailant named Lane (Sam Harris), Ethan finds himself at the tail end of a massive conspiracy to build a new kind of government with agents that have either been retired or fired from their organizations. Ethan now must work alone as a rogue, trying to track Lane down and keep from being arrested by the CIA. He goes out on a limb to entrust his ex-comrade Benji (Simon Pegg), while Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and ex-partner Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) try to track him down. From there, Ethan tries to stop the syndicate from forming and initiating a terrorist organization that’ll hold the world hostage, hoping to gather his remaining partners for the final mission.
“Rogue Nation” is primarily an endurance test for Ethan Hunt and how he can go about proving his innocence and stopping the impending doom. Hunt is a master of wits and strategy resulting in tasks that are utterly mind blowing to witness. Cruise really never misses a beat reprising the role as Hunt, raising the stakes for his hero more and more as the series continues. Should Cruise ever bow out, I’d love to see Hunt go down in a blaze of glory and become the template for future IMF agents to operate as. Director Christopher McQuarrie follows the formula of the “Mission Impossible” films subsequent part III, in where the spectacle is large and the plot for the film is involving enough to where it never drags down the narrative.
What’s more is that the excellent sequences filmed are grounded enough to where we can enjoy them without the director reaching too much. Take for example, Ethan’s breaking in to a high tech computer immersed under water that relies on him swimming in to the current, releasing the hard drive, switching data, and leaving the tank before three minutes have passed. While Hunt is assuredly a force of nature, the writers make sure that he is also depicted as somewhat mortal, and very capable of dying at any moment. Though the scene is tense in its own right, the best moment involves Hunt chasing down rogues in a high speed bike through the highway. It’s a beautifully edited chase scene that successfully managed to suck me in. My main complaint about the “Mission Impossible” series is that it’s always been more of a one man movie than a team movie, as it should have been.
It’s nice to see the producers have settled on transforming the series in to a team franchise, and what a team they’ve assembled. Though Cruise is powerful here, “Rogue Nation” makes good use of the marvelous and minimal supporting cast, with Simon Pegg about as excellent as ever as inadvertent hero Benji, along with Jeremy Renner who holds his own well as Brandt. There’s also a fine supporting turn by Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, and Rebecca Ferguson who is memorable as the enigmatic Ilsa torn between loyalties at all fronts. “Rogue Nation” is another great installment in a series of movies that continues upping the ante in quality and doesn’t seem to show to be showing diminishing returns any time soon.