Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 131 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 13+. Typical action movie stuff: Lots of hand-to-hand fighting and parkour, various high-speed car and motorcycle chases, and numerous people dying in mostly bloodless action violence, aside from the murder of one young woman that is also not bloody but is given more emotional prominence. Also a few brief instances of sexually themed material, including a topless woman seen from behind, and some language.
Tom Cruise is fully committed to the fifth installment of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise, and ‘Rogue Nation’ benefits from that attention. The movie soars because of him – and oh man, is it fun.
By Roxana Hadadi
Most movies can fail on their own on the first attempt, and it can take Herculean effort to make a successful sequel, let alone a franchise. And yet here we are with the fifth entry in the “Mission: Impossible” film series, “Rogue Nation,” and it’s all as fun and thrilling as when these films started 19 years ago. Well done, Tom Cruise.
Cruise stars again as Ethan Hunt, who we last saw in 2011’s “Ghost Protocol,” climbing the tallest structure in the world and shutting down a nuclear terrorist; that film had better pacing than “Rogue Nation,” but this one is still pretty darn good. This time around, Ethan is doing what he always does: hunting down bad guys, trying to represent the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) as best as he can, and enlisting the help of the hackers, techies, and field agents who are his friends.
And because the “Mission: Impossible” films don’t really overlap in terms of storytelling, you could theoretically see “Rogue Nation” without having seen all of the previous four films in the franchise. It’s a good time regardless.
The film begins with an insane setpiece – Cruise hanging off the side of an airplane as it takes off, yet another in the long line of impressive stunts Cruise has done himself – and only gets more bonkers from there. While in London, checking in for what he thinks is his next assignment, Hunt learns of a shadow group called the Syndicate, made up of other international spies and agents who have been reported as dead or missing through the years, led by a mysterious man who murders an innocent woman right in front of Hunt. Who is the man? And if all these agents are supposed to be dead, what are they doing running around trying to assassinate world leaders, funding terrorist groups, and sowing discord?
That’s the question Hunt would pose to the IMF, but they’ve been shut down and folded into the CIA after one too many bungled missions, so Hunt goes on the run instead. If the U.S. government refuses to believe the Syndicate is real, Hunt isn’t going to waste time trying to convince bureaucrats and politicians – he’s going to fight them first.
He’s joined in his mission by longtime friend and hacker Luther (Ving Rhames, of “Ghost Protocol”); tech guy Benji (Simon Pegg, of “The Boxtrolls”); and CIA liaison Brandt (Jeremy Renner, of “The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron”), and also by the mysteriously aligned Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson, of “Hercules”), who may be working with Ethan but who may also be working against him. Figuring that out is, of course, part of the fun. (Although, why is there only one woman in each “Mission: Impossible” film? Is there a private quota?)
To really talk about “Rogue Nation” is to praise its action sequences, which are exactly the kind of well-executed insanity the summer movie season needs: Cruise’s aforementioned hanging off the plane as it cruises hundreds of feet above the ground; Hunt and Ilsa working in practically synchronized tandem to beat up a bunch of much bigger, much brawnier dudes (“We’ve never met before, right?” he inquires of her, amazed); the pair chasing each other through an opera house, now working against each other; a high-speed car and motorcycle chase through the streets of Casablanca; an underwater mission that traps Hunt in what seems like a roulette wheel of current. It’s increasingly escalating madness, and it’s excellent.
Oh, and then there’s this moment when Alec Baldwin, as the grumpy leader of the CIA, finally acknowledges that “Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny”? You won’t stop laughing about that line for days.
The film that is in between those setpieces is good, too, as it forces Hunt to question his role as a secret agent and whether the IMF is actually doing any good in the world while also poking humor at itself. If parents and teens were to have any “serious” conversations about “Rogue Nation” after seeing it together, they could be about the efficacy of special operations and secret programs. But those discussions will probably only come after you stop gushing about how fully “Rogue Nation” fits the summer blockbuster bill first.
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