Mission: Impossible – Film Review by C.K. MacNamara
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin
Tom Cruise’s career affirming escapades as agent Ethan Hunt attempt to revitalise the dusty Mission Impossible franchise in Rogue Nation, a self-assured bid to raise the Hollywood action hero bar through stunts, gadgetry and marketing zeal.
The newest instalment, directed by Christopher McQuarrie revolves around the interesting meta-question ‘is the Impossible Mission Force still relevant?’ as they battle the mysterious Syndicate, an ‘anti IMF’ and the attempts of CIA director Alan Hunley to foreclose the agency for its past, let’s say “unorthodox” work ethic.
Despite following the usual ultra-formulaic template of the big Hollywood action movie, the film stumbles through the motions with an odd level of difficulty and clumsy sense of misdirection. The ‘paint by numbers + product placement’ formula practically writes itself, yet there is a distinctly confused waft as the plot careens through the typical themes with even less substance than one might expect.
Ilsa Fuast, the Femme fatale with the neck-snapping thighs (played by Rebecca Ferguson) is surprisingly not treated as the typical love interest, yet is still as threadbare and contrived as if she was one. Characters fluctuate wildly to fill whatever roles the individual scenes demand, with little to no permanent substance surviving the confused spectacle. Consequently the stakes are reduced to nil, as the audience struggle to connect with characters whose personalities warp from scene to scene with little overall cohesion.
Performances are similarly unequal, with Simon Pegg’s gleaming performance as tech-guru sidekick Benji being counter weighed by Sean Harris’ ludicrous portrayal as the grating, apparent substitute teacher turned super-terrorist Soloman Lane.
The attempts at a complicated plot become an amusing meta-joke, as the script repeatedly writes itself into dead ends and must introduce Deus ex machina to escape its own contrivances (fail to retrieve plot centric device, luckily I had a copy the entire time for just such an occasion).
Confronting a modern audience immunized to high speed Hollywood action, the film wields low level action scenes and an unconfident script to deliver little other than a testament that the franchise is ill suited to a modern action genre that has passed it by.
The inevitable fate of the M:I series looks to be one of perpetual revival, defibrillated every few years and probed to see if it can stick in the modern action movie periphery. For now it looks to be clinging on, but the future is not so certain.