Devin King | Staff Reporter
Published July 231, 2015; 9:47 a.m
If there is anything that Hollywood loves today, it is a franchise. The word itself leaves a certain taste in your mouth depending on who you are. On one hand, creating a franchise out of a single film means that sequels will do the same thing that the first film did before over and over again before it runs out of steam, or sequels will falter on what made the first movie special. On the other hand, a franchise grants an original film the opportunity to have sequels that recapture the magic of the first, expand on the foundations that were laid beforehand or try something different with what existed before.
Satisfyingly enough, what the latest in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise delivers with “Rogue Nation” is an exquisite entry to a franchise, recapturing the old magic, expanding on its previous work and trying somethings that are new, even if it is still similar to its predecessors.
Taking place shortly after the fourth installment, 2011’s “Ghost Protocol,” Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tracking down a dangerous undercover organization called the Syndicate, which is made up of rogue ex-agents from around the world led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Things turn complicated when the Impossible Mission Force, the spy organization Hunt works for, is disbanded by the US government, forcing the IMF to work under more difficult circumstances in order to apprehend the Syndicate.
“Rogue Nation” is a very self-contained story, and this is both a strength and a weakness. For newcomers of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, there is nothing in the way of enjoying the film, as characters enter naturally on screen and there are no real big ties to the previous movies besides the characters. However, this also lessens the impact that “Ghost Protocol” left. It is very minor but it is still somewhat dissatisfying for long time fans.
The film is undoubtedly a “Mission: Impossible” movie. From its look to its sound, the franchise is as crisp and stylish as ever. The technology used is still fascinating, even if hilariously unrealistic, and the action pieces are still hypnotically fun to watch. What is so great about this incarnation in the series is that it uses very simplistic themes in its action scenes, then turns them on their heads. A major highlight of the film is a simple fist fight that takes place behind the set of a European opera house with stage lights flying up and down. Many similar scenes happen like this, and it reminds me of many kung-fu flicks in the best way imaginable. Also, besides the advanced technology used, the vast majority of the action is of practical effects and it looks great as a result.
The cast itself deliver solid performances. Cruise is as charismatic as ever, and the rest of the IMF team actors are still great supports. While Hunt does not undergo any character development, I found Simon Pegg’s character Benji Dunn to get some decent character growth. Lane, as a villain, is somewhat of a missed opportunity. Lane’s character is very basic, and given Sean Harris’s great performance, I would have liked to see more of Lane than just pure evil.
Aesthetically speaking, “Rogue Nation” is very familiar for “Mission: Impossible” veterans. The cinematography by Robert Elswit (“Ghost Protocol,” “Nightcrawler”) is very sharp and clean and complements the action scenes beautifully. The score composed by Joe Kraemer is also what is to be expected of a “Mission: Impossible” film, but it is still very strong among its own given its ability to create tension where it is needed.
Overall, “Rogue Nation” is a strong reminder of how healthy the “Mission: Impossible” franchise is. It is as stylish and smooth as the older films but the new action is bigger and better than ever. It makes a very compelling argument for being the best “Mission: Impossible” movie yet and is, without a doubt, the best summer 2015 blockbuster to come out thus far.