MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
Author: J.A. Hyde
July 30, 2015

SYNOPSIS: With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation picks up where the previous film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ended, with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) briefing his crew, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Luthur Stickell (Ving Rhames) about the Syndicate. If you didnít see the previous film, donít worry. Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), as the film begins, is explaining to the powers that be why the IMF force should be dismantled by giving a recap of their exploits. Hunt is missing and loose in Europe with Benji, trying to get proof that the Syndicate exists so he can complete his mission. Heís unaware that a kill on sight order has been issued on him, and Brandt realizes that he and the rest of Ethanís team will be on their own and working against orders to try to save him. Thatís about as much of the story line that you need, so I wonít be revealing many plot details. The MI films are best enjoyed with surprises intact.

The money shot, which has been heavily advertised and shown (in part) in the trailer, is definitely worth the money youíll pay to see it. As almost the whole world knows by now, Tom Cruise hangs from the outside of a plane as it takes off. He did it himself, without special effects or a stunt double. At times, he was suspended 5000 ft. above the ground. Cruise has said in interviews that he wanted to top the tall building in Dubai stunt from Ghost Protocol. He did.

A couple of other stunts, also performed by Cruise, were just as impressive. His character, Ethan Hunt, plunges into the roiling waters of a Moroccan power plant to find a hidden file. For this one, Cruise studied with diving expert Kirk Krack to learn to hold his breath for 6 minutes. The scene was shot in one, long take. Thereís also a riveting motorcycle chase along a winding mountain highway, speeding in and out between cars and trucks that plays out like a mad, beautiful dance. As fans know, Cruise always does his own driving stunts.

The actors, including Cruise, all perform better than in Ghost Protocol. Rebecca Ferguson is a welcome addition as disavowed MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. Sheís a believable match, at least in fight scenes, for Hunt. Hunt encounters her as he searches for the leader of the Syndicate, a creepy, murderous villain, Simon Lane, beautifully played by Sean Harris.

As in all IM films, there are betrayals and double-crosses, and itís really up to the audience to figure which ones are real and which are feigned. The wonderful Simon Pegg brings humor to Rogue Nation, for some much-needed relief from the filmís necessarily frenetic pace.

A few cringe-worthy lines, including one from Alec Baldwinís character, brought a few groans and giggles from the audience. Otherwise, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is my second favorite film of the summer, after AntMan. Itís the very definition of an action film! - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: B+


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