Cut & Print – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Author’s note: I would say this review is free of spoilers. I don’t how far this trust between you and I really goes. After all, I could be a secret agent working for a rogue agency.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has all the trappings of a good sequel and all of the trappings of a good time at the movies. It does what the last few films in the Mission Impossible series have done. What we have here is a series of set-pieces, close calls, and double crosses that are too numerous to list in a review like this. Like every other Impossible movie, the team will have to break into a top-secret secured installation, overcome some huge setback, and still manage to pull it off. There will be evil spies that are better at all of this than our heroes, and they might have a mole or two that our heroes trust but who will eventually betray the team. Or that mole will betray the team just to make it look like he or she is loyal to the enemy when he or she really isn’t. There will be hi-tech gadgets, a few good jokes, some and some intense action scenes, all peppering a plot that will inevitably involve government conspiracies, double-crosses, secret lists, absurd false identities, and more opportunities for our heroes to be double crossed.
Maybe that’s all fine and good. Just sit back in your chair with your popcorn and enjoy this film. Even with new stunts and set-pieces, you know it will be pretty much the same kind of thing you’ll get in every Mission Impossible movie. For two hours or so, that’s really all you want, right? And with each sequel, you get more, and you get it bigger. And with each sequel it becomes more unbelievable.
And no, the fact that star Tom Cruise seems to be doing a lot of his own stunts in these films (the crazier they are, the more willing this man seems to want to do them himself, because he knows they can plaster frames onto giant posters, and when film-goers can plainly see its actually him clinging to the side of the building or grabbing onto a plane as it is taking off, they will want to see it) doesn’t make each successive film better than the last one.
What some viewers might realize is that these movies have no story.. none at all. They have plots – way too many of them, in fact – but no story. Sure, there’s lots of things that characters must accomplish, and that’s all plot, but the writers are just playing with us in terms of why these events are happening. Other than the notion that our government should have a secret ops group at the ready at all times, there are no themes in these films. A story is not simply plot elements put at play: a story is how characters, theme and plot somehow all strike the same note, like that perfect power chord. The makers of this film don’t quite have the tuning right.
It’s fun watching the Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) team infiltrate all these secret areas in the attempt to accomplish their missions, but that fun is eliminated by how easy it seems for them to be able to do this. We don’t know where they get all their “mission-specific” equipment from (especially since, I believe, the MIF had been disavowed before the start of this film) and as a result each new gadget they use, whether it’s a disguise, or a code-key or a hologram or whatever,feels more like magic than anything and there’s a lot of suspense is lost. If you ask me to fix your Nintendo, and you say I’ll need a Phillips-head screwdriver, chances are that the one I pick will be the wrong size, yet these guys never fail to have generic keys that fit into every lock, small devices that work on every combination lock, and convenient non-metal breathing apparatuses just waiting to be used for a specific mission. Benji (Simon Pegg) will always find a secret room he can hang out with as he is (always) able to hack into the system with his laptop and tablet. Count on it. Without spoiling its purpose, there’s a scene with bullet-proof glass at the end of this film and I have no idea where the team got it.
Eventually, too, plot-lines get muddled. There’s always at least one too many facades and one too many double crosses, and you might actually realize that the writers are trying to make the viewer believe these “stories” are important, but they are in fact, just excuses for themselves, and reasons to get to the next big set-piece mission.
In the 80’ this kind of writing on a film would not be used at all. They didn’t have the money or the technology in the 80’s to pull off so many numerous action scenes and hi-tech break-ins. What filmmakers back then had to do was make one or two set pieces as good as possible and then incorporate them into a story that actually makes us care about where a film will go. When all was said and done, there was no way to know what the “rogue nation’s” endgame was, and no reason, after all those twists and turns, to even care.
This movie is fun for the same reason that a single Road Runner cartoon is fun. Those cartoons just repeat themselves. The coyote just keeps on trying to do the same thing. Once in a while, he buys a new acme gadget we hadn’t seen the likes of before, and for a couple of minutes that new device makes the whole episode seem fresh and interesting. In the end, however, nothing changes: he’ll never catch the roadrunner, and he’ll still fail in all the ways that are interesting to fail. Ethan Hunt’s team will continue to do mission after mission, and they’ll continue to be outsmarted and double-crossed and disavowed in every single friggin’ movie. Like the Road Runner cartoons, this is entertaining to watch as it is happening, but there’s not a whole lot to really bring home.
My rating: 3/ 5 stars. If I cared about the missions, and how they really pulled them off, there might be another star attached to this. This movie is just awful, but with a lot of smoke and mirrors to make it seem better than it is.I will say the last few M:I films, including this one, are more fun than the latest Bond films. Now, I’ll duck as you get the tomatoes ready.