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Kane: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the fifth entry in the franchise and is directed this time by Christopher McQuarrie. Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a skilled secret agent working for the Impossible Mission Force. In this film, Hunt struggles to prove the existence of the Syndicate, a rogue terrorist organization he believes is responsible for numerous attacks across the globe. However, after the C.I.A. effectively shuts down the I.M.F., Hunt is not only fighting for his life, but also for the lives of those around the world.

Mission: Impossible is like a fine wine – it only gets better with age. You wouldn’t know it, but the franchise is quickly approaching its 20th anniversary. After the big surprise that was 2011’s Ghost Protocol, it would only be natural to wonder how this series could top itself. Rogue Nation is here to do just that.

At this point, Mission: Impossible is known for its intense thrills, great characters, and masterful action. This new film delivers in all of those aspects. The action featured here is incredible. Scenes are gripping, creative, and quite literally breathtaking. The movie opens with one of the most death-defying stunts I have ever seen, and does not let up from there, even featuring what is perhaps the best motorcycle chase ever put to film.

A lot of this is due to the star himself, Tom Cruise. This is an actor who understands and cares about what makes the moviegoing experience special. He knows how to engage and immerse audiences into what is unfolding onscreen. The man is now 53 years old, and in this film, he performs all his own stunts, most of which any sane person half his age wouldn’t dare to attempt. From hanging outside a real flying cargo plane to holding his breath deep underwater for six minutes straight, Cruise continually pushes himself as a performer, balancing amazing stuntwork with genuinely great acting.

The supporting cast gives it their all, as well. Ving Rhames makes a welcome return as the computer hacker Luther Stickell, after being nearly absent from the last film. Jeremey Renner continues to fit right in with a cast that has been working together for nearly two decades. Rebecca Ferguson excels as deadly MI6 agent Ilsa.

But Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn tops them all. The character is written the best he has been since his introduction in Mission: Impossible III. He provides the film’s funniest moments, but it is clear that he is not simply there for comedic relief. He is given his fair share of intense and emotional scenes, and pulls them all off incredibly well, a testament to how brilliant an actor he is. The entire cast has great chemistry, giving the film a true sense of comradery,  elevating this movie beyond a standard action flick.

Christopher McQuarrie shines as the director behind Rogue Nation. One of the reasons why this franchise has lasted as long as it has is because it features a different director with every film. This gives each entry its own unique style, allowing things to feel fresh and new, and McQuarrie succeeds in doing just that. His directorial style is overflowing with energy and grit that this series hasn’t quite seen yet, and was the perfect fit to continue its streak of greatness.

Any complaints that I have here are relatively minor. Sean Harris’ portrayal as the antagonist is akin to that of a cartoon character, and doesn’t mesh well with the grittiness of the rest of the film.

This movie also would have benefitted from a stronger ending. It didn’t provide as much of a satisfying conclusion for Ethan Hunt as the rest of the films did.

That said, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is nothing short of incredible. After nearly 20 years, this series has lost neither its energy nor its vigor. Cruise once again proves that he is one of Hollywood’s most committed actors. Pegg, Ferguson, Rhames, and Renner fill an excellent supporting cast, and McQuarrie’s direction is top notch.

Not only is Rogue Nation worthy of standing amongst the best of the franchise, it is one of 2015’s best films, period.

9/10

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