By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Tom Cruise and the filmmakers behind the Mission: Impossible movie franchise deserve high praise for keeping this series alive, well, and invigorating.  Much like the Fast and Furious franchise, the studio, producers, and various talented directors have managed to keep the material fresh and exciting through multiple films.  Often times, film franchises wear themselves thin with redundant plots and tiresome tropes, leaving me begging for no more!  Tom Cruise and his team, however, continue to make quality entertainment with each new Mission and they don’t seem to want to quit anytime soon.  That is quite alright with me!

In this latest installment, Ethan Hunt and the IMF come under fire by the CIA for the aftermath of their work in Ghost Protocol.  CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) implores a Senate committee for the dissolution of IMF for absorption into his agency.  In addition to this major shake up, Hunley spearheads a manhunt for Ethan Hunt who is declared their most-wanted man.  This forces Hunt to go into hiding, but doesn’t deter him from his intended target, an international criminal organization known as The Syndicate.  Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the leader of this highly skilled group, proves to be a most worthy adversary to Ethan and his team who must play The Syndicate’s game to exonerate Hunt and save IMF.

Written and directed by Academy Award Winner Christopher McQuarrie, Rogue Nation has what I feel is some of the best writing this franchise has ever had in addition to the nail-biting suspense and intense action thrills audiences expect with a Mission: Impossible movie. The story does have the usual, expected sequences of infiltration, misdirection, twists, and of course, an awesome centerpiece which, in this case, features an awesome action sequence.  Much like the television show, the movies have adopted a certain formula that works. However,  at the same time, it would be nice to see filmmakers do something completely new and unexpected.  McQuarrie’s writing skills offer stronger development of the characters, including the supporting ones, along with sharp witted and smart dialogue.  As a director, McQuarrie delivers some superbly executed action sequences that often left me breathless.

In addition to Tom Cruise, who delivers a solid performance as Hunt, Rogue Nation brings back Jeremy Renner (William Brandt), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), and Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell).  The lovely Rebecca Ferguson proves that she’s not just a pretty face and holds her own quite well as disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust.  Also, M:I newcomer Sean Harris delivers a cold and creepy performance as the mysterious Syndicate leader Solomon Lane.

So, once again, a new writer/director helps sustain a winning franchise that shows no signs of ending any time soon.  I must say that it amazes me that Tom Cruise, at the age of 53, can still pull off what has become his trademark character of Ethan Hunt and can still put stuntmen out of work.  For his sake and the sake of the franchise, I pray that Cruise never gets seriously hurt or killed while attempting his next insane stunt for another Mission: Impossible movie.  I would love to see Cruise and more talented filmmakers continue to accomplish what is usually deemed impossible.


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