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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris

Written By: Christopher McQuarrie (also story), Drew Pearce (story)

Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

The Shot

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation delivers the summer action movie goods.  Great stunts, fun action sequences, a fast pace, a cool premise; what’s not to enjoy?

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Hot, tasty, and great to party with.

Pairs Well With...


When you want to keep the party moving, but you’re still sophisticated enough to serve drinks that belong in a glass.  (You probably call this a “Rum and Coke with lime.”)

“Let’s make it count.”

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation just might be this year’s ideal summer movie.  It’s got great action, cool stunts, and an engaging plot that’s just thoughtful enough to allow suspension of disbelief to remain engaged even when things get wacky.  If not for my balking at the inappropriate use of the term “rogue nation,” I’d honestly have no complaints about this movie at all.

Established fans of the Mission: Impossible franchise will have a leg up on the rest of the audience when it comes to picking up on some of the finer details of the story (since no time at all is wasted on reliving the histories of either the IMF as an organization or its operatives as individuals), but newcomers needn’t fear; enough blanks fill themselves in that “getting lost” really isn’t a problem here.  American black ops spy agency gets disgraced and swallowed up by the CIA just when its most outstanding agent zeroes in on a terrorist organization that employs his agency’s own tactics to more nefarious ends.  Chaos and mayhem ensue.  Does anyone really need more organizational detail than that in order to have a good time?

Honestly, no.

The opening airplane stunt (you know; the one that the studio’s marketing people have gone out of their way to point out was done by Tom Cruise himself and not a double) needs no connection to a storyline to be cool; indeed, the audience can be forgiven for missing the oh-so-brief note that attaches it to the main plot.  The multi-stage motorcycle chase would rock no matter where someone decided to put it or for what reason it ended up there.  The script itself slyly points out that it doesn’t matter what is actually being stolen from the Moroccan datacenter; the datacenter heist would still be intense fun even if the end haul turned out to be an inventory of Pokemon cards.  (Fear not; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has more respect for you than that.)  Lather, rinse, and repeat for pretty everything that happens during the course of the movie.  In the true spirit of the prototypical Summer Action Flick, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation invites audiences to sit down, escape the world for two hours, and simply enjoy the ride.

If that’s all you want out of your experience here, more power to you.  Thinking caps are in fact optional, and had everyone just stopped there, it would have been enough to make this a good movie.

But, as suggested a moment ago, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has more respect for you than that.  So if you want to wear a thinking cap…

If you want to wear a thinking cap, then this story has rewards for you.  The screenplay’s framework is beefed up with actual substance that flows in such a way that the “action sequences that would be enjoyable anywhere” don’t end up feeling like “just one damn thing after another.”  The characters that would benefit from having layers have them, and their logic remains consistent throughout.  The story’s wilder convolutions stretch credibility (as stories like this are wont to do), but there’s sufficient craft to keep sharks from being jumped and to hold disbelief in firm yet comfortable suspension.  And the details… oh, the details… 

I won’t spoil them all, but one of my favorites is a musical one.  The action in Morocco takes place in the storied city of Casablanca, and when our heroes first arrive, the film’s score carries an echo of the score from… Casablanca.  That’s a very nice touch indeed.  And long prior to that, the passphrase discussion in London… gorgeous.  I’m still trying to decide whether or not Ethan Hunt’s solution to a particular problem was deliberately designed after an approach taken by another Tom Cruise character in a different film altogether, but if it was… oh, that’s beautifully played.  And on, and on, and on.

And I don’t know or care if it’s the actress herself or a stunt double or a camera trick or a combination of all of those things, but when Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust does that martial arts finishing move of hers… hot damn. (And hey - major props for a well-written female lead that never resorts to steretyping or "damseling" out.)

I could go on about all of the fun and wonderful things to be enjoyed during the course of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but I think you’ve got the hang of things now.  Whether you’re looking for simple escapism or an action blast that still allows you to think, this flick is definitely one of the top picks for the Summer of 2015, and well worth the time on both the big and the small screens.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2015

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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