Rogues Gallery

Of all the movie franchises that I continue to keep up with, Mission Impossible may have the weakest hold on me, at least from a story perspective. If you ask me about the lore of James Bond, I can describe M and Moneypenny and Q and SPECTRE and all that jazz. But when it comes to this franchise, the individual movies tend to evaporate out of my head a few days after seeing them, leaving behind just general impressions of the setpieces that caught my attention.

But even though I can't tell you plot of any of the preceding movies, though I've seen them all, I continue to have fun with this franchise, and headed to the theater to see the latest installment, Rogue Nation. Again, the over-arching plot doesn't make much difference. There's a team of good guys, a team of bad guys, and an agent in the middle who nobody can quite figure out. They're all after a MacGuffin, and whatever-who-cares. What really stands out is the action.

The marketing for this movie played up the opening scene, in which Tom Cruise clings to the outside of a plane that's taking off. Make no mistake, that was cool to watch, but it says a lot about this movie's strengths that it was about the third most thrilling part. I mean, watching Cruise hang on for dear life was neat, but watching four agents wend their way through a theater as an opera is performed, and not knowing who to trust or what terrible shit is about to go down had me on the edge of my seat.

Another standout is Ilsa, the agent in the middle of it all, played by Rebecca Ferguson. Her role is extremely well-acted, but more importantly, it's well-written. MINOR SPOILER ALERT.

Here are a few things that Ilsa does not do: Have an emotional breakdown. Take her mission cues from a male character. Turn into a puddle of goo and develop romantic feelings for Ethan Hunt. Need rescuing (at least no more so than any agent would require). Get overwhelmed physically in a fight. She is, in fact, a perfectly self-sufficient character, which was really great to see.

It's entirely possible that Rogue Nation will be able to distinguish itself in my mind from the other Mission Impossible movies, and might even stick in my memory more than its predecessors. But even if it doesn't, it was a fun, thrilling movie, and the perfect way to spend a summer evening with friends.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: B+


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