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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney | Review

First, let’s get one thing straight.  There is no IMF (Impossible Missions Force).  There is only Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise).  As producer of the film and its leading man, Cruise’s Hunt is in virtually every scene, evading serious injury no matter how many automatic weapons are aimed in his direction and extrapolating every possible clue to the correct conclusion miles ahead of anyone who works with or against him.

He’s a one-man reconnaissance force who prefers going rogue to taking orders of any kind.  The very first scene has him fearlessly hanging on to the side of a plane as it takes off and saving the world from a terrorist nerve gas attack.

Alright, there is an IMF; let’s just say that the work is distributed very unevenly.

Despite the organization’s success record, a senate investigative committee votes to disband the IMF and let the CIA absorb its operation under the auspices of Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).  Yet another bureaucrat who doesn’t get it, Hunley stands in the way of IMF head, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and his agents, Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg).

The three men resign themselves to their demoted status, but ultimately join Hunt – after doubting and targeting him for capture first - in his search for proof of a mysterious (also rogue) organization called the Syndicate.  Original, I know.

The rest of the world’s governments deny the existence of The Syndicate, a covert international organization made up of skilled espionage agents that have turned into a deadly terrorist group under Lane’s leadership.  Their first order of business:  shut down the IMF and Hunt specifically.

Meanwhile Hunt must first prove the Syndicate’s existence before trying to shut them down.

Vocally challenged bad guy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) British operative Attlee (Simon McBurney) and multi-double-crossing agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) form a triumvirate of challenges for Hunt as he follows a trail of deceit to its inevitable one-on-one showdown.

Hunt and Faust flip flop between being allies and adversaries.  The savvy, martial arts operative saves Hunt’s life (twice) but betrays him only to aid his assignment once again, and the twisty plot hinges on motive.  Did I capture you or did he want me to capture you?  Did this happen or did someone want it to happen?  An important disk is blank.  Was it the wrong disk or something else? It keeps you guessing but it can also become tiresome instead of the clever ploy it aspires to be.

There’s plenty of action, prolonged to the point of glaze-over, and Simon Pegg provides some comic relief, but it’s Cruise’s show, whether up in the air, underwater, or on swift, suicidal motorcycle. Ferguson proves a stylish foe/ally, or should I say faux ally? Renner and Rhames have small roles that seem to exist to underscore the notion that IMF is really a team effort instead of a one-man-band, or perhaps one man (Cruise) and an assistant (Pegg).  Baldwin is competent enough, but his flat-ironed hairline can be a bit distracting.  Who'd have the time?

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) shares writing credit with Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) for this fifth franchise installment, and combines wildly divergent events with international locations (Washington D.C., London, Paris, Havana, and Casablanca, among others).  All required, yes, but is there a masked reveal?  There might be a law somewhere that says no good IMF man can leave home without one.

Misson: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a fast-paced carnival of stunt gimmicks meant to entertain and “wow” viewers, but ironically, that is part of its problem.  We are only spectators, disconnected from the characters and watching them without investment.

Perhaps this time, like the mission, that’s just not possible.

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