Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writers:  Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce
Cast:       Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Sean Harris

Ethan Hunt and his team take on their most 'Impossible' mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate- an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF along the way. It is the anti-thesis of IMF with its objective being to create instability in a revolutionary sense. Rebecca Ferguson plays the role of a British agency double agent inside the Syndicate, which makes the film all the more interesting since we have to always second guess her as well as Syndicate's motive.

Ghost Protocol was the film that got the Mission Impossible franchise back on track and it worked purely as an action film with three clearly defined set-piece sequences in it. We don't care much for the story and they only act as a vehicle to get Ethan Hunt and his team from one set-piece to another. It went through the mandatory MI franchise references like lit fuse opening credits, self-destructing messages, use of masks, Tom Cruise hanging , Tom Cruise running (That is not purely MI) etc without making it look tacked on. Rogue Nation is the film in which the story takes precedence in stead of action set-pieces and they manage to pull it off nicely. It is not to say that action scenes are not good but just that story involves you more in a a good way and the character played by Rebecca Ferguson helps a lot in that regard. It always helps when you have a double agent whose motives we are not sure of and while this is not a novel concept in spy films, the balance between story and action was just right. Also, the main villain was very interesting and it is a general rule in such action films that 'You are only as good as the Villain'.

Film did start off in an underwhelming fashion with a mediocre opening credits and the disappointment on finding out that 'the hanging out from a plane that is taking off' was there in the film without much story context to it. Anyway, it worked in a marketing sense since it was used as the teaser for the film. MI5 manages to take off only by the time that action set-piece in Vienna Opera venue starts off and symbolically enough, the target is the Austrian PM (WW1 reference). The Syndicate is very much involved with creating instability in the middle east and around the Muslim world, which is the current affairs reference for the film, and a lot of the troubles that is there now is the bi-product of fall of Ottoman Empire and how the region was dealt with after WW1. It is not what the Syndicate is doing in terms of their activities that is of interest to us but whether they are using Ethan Hunt to get to their original target. So it is a case of who is leading on who. There are only three major action set-pieces in the film (Vienna Opera, Morocco water stunt, Morocco Car/Bike Chase) and they gets over, I reckon, by around two-thirds of the film. From then on, it is largely story driven and that is a bold move from the director. It turned out to be a good decision since another major set-piece at the end would have been just tiring. Ridiculousness of the plot, in case you actually think about it, is not a problem since you are expected to leave your brains out for an MI film. It is the least MI film out of all the films in the franchise and that is indeed a welcome change. The whole idea of IMF, with its stupid name of Impossible Missions Force, is itself ridiculous and it is best when they don't go overboard with self-references and Rogue Nation manages to do just that. It works well as a standalone action flick.

Overall MI5 is a great watch and is in my opinion the best MI film along with Ghost Protocol. It is the humor and great chemistry between Cruise and Pegg that worked well in Ghost Protocol along with the great action sequences, and they added Rebecca Ferguson to the whole equation and made another solid action flick. It is not as big a feminist statement as Mad Max: Fury Road was, but it was good that they didn't go overboard with a romantic angle to it. MI6 is on the pipeline now with the shoot set to happen in 2016. I really do hope they go with a good director since that is essential for an MI film to be any good (1,4,5). As far as my MI films ranking go:

1) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
3) Mission Impossible (Hasn't aged very well)
4) MI:3
5) MI:2 ( Turned off after ten minutes)

PS: It was the first English film that I saw at cinemas in my hometown since Jurassic Park, around 20 years or so ago.

Rating: 4/5