Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation 

The fifth Mission feels lighter and sillier than previous ones, but perfect for the summer

click to enlarge Another day at the office for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)
  • Another day at the office for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation hits the ground running. For real, as IMF super-agent and defender of the free world Ethan Hunt runs and jumps onto the wing of a moving jet. As you do when you are supremely confident your mission is possible.

This is the fifth film in the re-booted franchise, directed this time out by Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote the loop-de-loop sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow. Prior knowledge of impossible Missions isn’t really necessary — especially if you’re not hung up on plot details, which coincidentally, this film isn’t either. Take it from Hunt: It’s just a super-charged ride, so hop on and hang on.

Tom Cruise is back as Hunt, and the role is a good match for his movie-star mug and cocky attitude. (In a movie-only world, you could imagine Top Gun’s Maverick becoming Hunt later in life.) Returning as Hunt’s buddy and comic foil is Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames reprise lesser supporting roles. 

But we do get a new villain, the vaguely defined “Syndicate,” who are the “anti-IMF,” and who are spooling out a vague dastardly plot to increase terrorism. Or something. People, they are bad. Bad! They must be stopped, and only the IMF can do it.

Except the IMF has been shuttered by the CIA, leaving the noble crusaders unemployed. Except, it’s more like FUNemployed! Taking on shadowy dangerous bad guys, while tapping a mysterious source of seemingly unlimited funds to buy gadgets and last-minute airline tickets, looks like a blast! Hunt and crew go rogue tracking down the Syndicate, with the help (or is it?) of a British double agent, the awesomely named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).

This Mission feels lighter and sillier than previous ones, but perfect for the summer. Fans of Puccini’s Turnadot will thrill to a lengthy cat-and-mouse action sequence set in, around and during the opera. There’s another bit of derring-do set in a Moroccan water-treatment facility (more exciting than it sounds), plus motorcycle stunts, car chases, knife fights and lots of cutting-edge gadgets. (This film is also a testament to the ease and breadth of surveillance government agencies can tap, but remind yourself: It’s just to take down the evil Syndicate.)

Perhaps ironically, some of the scenes that are most disappointing are a couple of tense set-ups in which one of our heroes appears headed for certain death. I found myself admiring how these scenes were executed, however perfunctorily. But the endless longevity of these star-driven action series trumps any suspension of disbelief that Tom Cruise … uh, Ethan Hunt … is in any danger.


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