The Mission: Impossible franchise is that rare Hollywood blockbuster franchise that has found its formula and stuck to it wholeheartedly for just under 20 years.
Secret agents on super cool spy missions equipped with an arsenal of fun gadgets and a tongue-in-cheek sensibility. Sticking to this formula hasn’t always worked for them in the past (I’m looking at you, MI3), but Rogue Nation is a return to pure popcorn thrills that’ll singe your eyebrows if you get too close.
The film opens with Ethan Hunt (the still game for anything Tom Cruise) attempting to prove the existence of The Syndicate, a rival secret spy organization to his IMF that’s stocked with reportedly agents from all over the world. Hunt figures out that not only is The Syndicate real, but they’re gunning for him and everyone he cares about – and so is the American CIA, who just shut the IMF down and spends the vast majority of the film scouring the globe for him. Hunt needs to rely on the skills of Benji (Simon Pegg), William (Jeremy Renner), Luther (Ving Rhames), and British spy Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) to help him bring down the Syndicate, which the CIA is convinced doesn’t exist, and stay one step ahead of everyone who wants to take him down.
Even the weaker films in this 5-deep franchise have had the undeniable appeal of golden-era Bond coursing through their veins: highly stylized action and pretty gadgets peppered with a sense of humor, or at least a sense of fun; MI doesn’t take itself deathly seriously, and Rogue Nation is no exception. In fact, part of the story fashions itself to be a kind of anti-Skyfall, copying the template of the latest Bond’s story almost to a tee before veering off on its own ludicrously fun path.
These kinds of movies are about as bulletproof as it gets, especially during this time of year: reliable blockbuster franchises that come out to breath every couple of years and suck $15 out of everyone’s pocket until they crawl back into the ether, waiting for their next meal. Rogue Nation is a gargantuan fun ride of a distraction, and a perfect fit in the current summer climate. There really isn’t much else to say other than “If you’re ready to watch Tom Cruise literally throw himself out of a plane, then this is the movie for you.”