Video game aesthetics and feelings of déjà vu threaten to ruin an enjoyable fifth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise.
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (writer of The Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow), Rogue Nation sees the IMF (Impossibe Missions force) shut down whilst Ethan (Cruise) and his team, including returning cast members Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner as Benji and Brandt respectively, try to shut down the ‘Syndicate’, an international rogue organization intent on destroying the IMF.
The action is relentless; the film only slows down on one, perhaps two occasions, otherwise, Ethan’s mission is quite literally nonstop. To a certain extent, this is a good thing, it is an action film after all; however, more time could have been spent on character arcs. For example, newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (not the Liverpudlian X Factor contestant) plays Ilsa in a seemingly film noir femme fatale type role. We don’t really know a lot about her, and her character lacks any real development, despite the fact that she plays a key role throughout the film.
A glowing highlight of Rogue Nation however is the much heavier involvement of Simon Pegg as Benji. He plays a larger role than he did in the fourth film, and the decision really pays off as his British charm and wit provide regular comic relief. Whether his British humour misses the mark or not across the pond is another matter, but it’s a joy to see Pegg performing so well in an otherwise all American production (go Simon).
One of the real problems of the film is that much of its action is dominated by unbelievably annoying video game aesthetics. McQuarrie opts to show several point of view shots during each action scene, he does it during every car chase and almost every fight scene. It’s a strange decision from the director, and it makes every exciting scene seem like you’re playing the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Xbox game, rather than watching the film on the big screen.
Another issue with McQuarrie’s film is the constantly protruding and rather severe feeling of déjà vu. Whilst watching Rogue Nation, you constantly feel that you’ve seen it all before. There’s a motorbike chase scene that recalls a similar scene in Mission Impossible II, and the entire plot is actually fairly similar to the last film of the franchise, Ghost Protocol. Both see the IMF having to go rogue due to criticism of their destructive tendencies, and both see Ethan’s team jetting off all over the globe to track down some terrorist with a quirky European accent.
Whilst being a reasonably enjoyable action/espionage film, Rogue Nation’s interfering shortcomings are simply too obvious to ignore.