Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

(Video on Demand, March 2016) It’s a minor miracle that the Mission: Impossible series is still going strong after five instalments, but after the near-death-by-ridiculousness of the second movie, the series has managed to hit upon a winning formula that still keeps it going nearly twenty years later. The formula is getting a bit repetitive (can we stand another of those “Ethan Hunt must operate without official support!” plot point?) but nearly everyone understands that plotting in this series is really about getting from one action set-piece to the next, and in this regard Rogue Nation is as good as any other instalment in the series. Tom Cruise’s ridiculously effective charisma helps, and so does the work of the series’ usual supporting players, but this time around the film can count upon a fully fleshed action heroine played by Rebecca Ferguson (too bad she won’t show up for the next instalment, as is custom), straightforward action direction by Christopher McQuarrie, and a pretty enjoyable supporting performance by Alec Baldwin, making the most out of a villainous persona. Good action set pieces include a complex opera house sequence and a frantic car chase in which the pursuer isn’t completely back from the dead. On the flip side, the computer break-in sequence is piled-up nonsense that borrows a bit too much from the first movie, and the final act of the film doesn’t have a strong action sequence as a send-off. The fantasy version of the espionage craft displayed by the series also cuts both ways, either as an escapist bonus, or as a regrettable absurdity when a bit more plotting realism would help anchor the delirious action sequences. This being said, Rogue Nation has the benefit of meticulously planned sequences and a controlled tone throughout—making it stand a bit above most of the other spy movies of 2015’s anno furtivus—yes, even better than Spectre, with which it shared a striking number of plot points. What’s left to do but anticipate the next instalment?

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