How Many TV Spies can I Eye This Year?

11 Aug

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation_posterAfter nearly 20 long years, the producers of this multi-film franchise has finally given certain fans, namely me, the type of spy film I’ve been waiting for. The spy vs spy narrative helps make for a stronger product. Although I’m going by memory of the television series, it feels much more closer to the premise the small screen version had. This latest entry had more subterfuge.

Hopefully Illsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) will be a recurring character. Her ability to stand her ground instead of being part of Ethan Hunt’s team may hint at things to come. More leading ladies like her are needed in a series that’s more about flaunting Tom Cruise‘s desire to stay the action hero.

Faust may eventually become part of the IMF by movie number seven, but for now, to see a rogue agent — part of this film’s namesake — take on Hunt in equal terms is a breath of fresh air. Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) is one of the original team-mates who have stuck it out through all five films, but he does not do much to help carry the franchise. I didn’t want to enjoy watching this series until Benji (Simon Pegg) became part of the team. The first two movies felt more like a flash bang visual romp than a character driven series.

When the third movie rolled out, to watch Hunt’s romance hit a snag felt too predictable; Julia Meade’s (Michelle Monaghan) death was faked to protect her not only to prevent Ethan’s enemies from finding out but also to infiltrate a Moscow prison. She was forced to move on when she finally learns that Hunt is a super spy — people like him are not meant to have simple lives.

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In the world of Mission: Impossible, the more sophisticated that is, the better. Christopher McQuarrie‘s screenplay is well thought out. It implies that Faust has an interest in Hunt, but she knows better than to get attached. The number of run ins these two have shows that they have a professional respect for each other. They would rather prevent each other from pursuing their bosses end goals than to find themselves completely attracted to each other.

Cruise, Rhames, Renner and Pegg have really come a long way in how they can play off each other since Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. When they are pals, they show it. When they disagree over methods, the tension can be felt. McQuarrie certainly knows how to tug at the strings of these performers to bring the right emotions out. His talent for choreographing the chase sequences bears noting too.

Although BMW provided most of the vehicles used throughout the film, this director was smart in not to get cinematographer Robert Elswit to hover the lens over the company logo. Vehicle enthusiasts will recognize the brand and that’s all that’s needed to bring recognition to the masses. The best moments is with the chase along the Moroccan highways and byways. The fast edits and the fact these were real stunts add more to the product more than any digitally enhanced moments.

The good thing about this franchise is that viewers can jump aboard with any film. With its current momentum, I’m glad the next movie will not be years in the making. The length of time it took to make the first three coupled with the leaps in technology make them feel like a highlight reel of what the IMF faced back then. From Ghost Protocol onwards, at least the tools used are more or less consistent. There’s still the odd bit of impossible physics that’s used, like if anyone can survive the cold air being whipped around the plane in this film’s opening montage, but they are minor nitpicks over a film that’s basically a comic book world in disguise.

If I had to choose which film to start with, it would have to be the fourth film because it introduced the Syndicate. The rest can be incinerated.

3½ Stars out of 5

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