If someone doesn’t know what the term “popcorn movie” means, show them Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
Mindless, loud, flashy, silly, and fun, Tom Cruise and team make the fifth impossible mission a success because the film makers and actors know that it is no more than a popcorn movie. It’s easy to tell they are having fun in this adolescent’s fantasy action/spy movie in the middle of summer box-office season.
The movie starts out with a pre-opening credit scene with Simon Pegg as Benji (the comic-relief) camouflaged in a field beside an airstrip with a plane carrying a chemical weapon about to take off. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is supposed to get on the plane to prevent it taking off with its dangerous cargo that is in terrorist hands. But, through computer tech and hacking hijinks, Benji can’t prevent it to take off, nor get Ethan Hunt into the plane beforehand, leading to the shot on the movie’s poster with Hunt hanging onto the side of the plane while it takes off. It’s no surprise that he gets out of this deadly situation and saves the day without so much as a scratch.
This pretty much sets up sets up what to expect from the rest of the movie; impossible odds in which Hunt somehow figures a way out, while taking a beating that he can just walk off while the villain’s minions die from a fraction of the punishment. Such as a high-speed chase with motorcycles where the goons are being dispatched one after the other, but when Hunt’s bike falls over and he hits the ground, he gets up with only some dirt on his jacket. Nothing new to him, it’s just all in a day’s work.
The story has Hunt hunting the nefarious shadow organization The Syndicate. You know it’s bad because the leader is an eccentric villain that has a strange, sinister sounding voice – and his name is Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Obviously, this is a man you cannot trust. At least Ethan Hunt has that part down, but it’s unclear whom he can trust outside of Lane. There is a lot of ambiguity with double agents double crossing and triple crossing and maybe quadruple crossing each other. Such as The Syndicate’s Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She lets Hunt escape from an interrogation room, but is it because she is on his side or does she want to con him into thinking that she’s deep undercover in The Syndicate?
And, back at home in Washington, Hunt is in trouble with the CIA’s Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). The CIA has disbanded the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), absorbed its members, and made Hunt a fugitive. But, this doesn’t stop him from his impossible mission to prove the existence of The Syndicate and put a stop to it and getting friends to have his back such as Benji (you need the comic relief), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther (Ving Rhames). Still, can Hunt trust all of them?
You’ve probably seen this movie in various forms dozens of times. There really isn’t anything new or deep in its story telling. It’s very formulaic, predictable, and convoluted. But it all works. The basic formula for the movie is a vehicle to make a fun action movie and showcase excellent stunts.
There is an underwater scene in which Hunt has to change out a card in a server to be able to steal a list of Syndicate agents. The server room is kept under water beneath a power station, and part of the security protocol has alarms go off if metal enters the server room. So, that means he can’t take an oxygen tank and must hold his breath for at least three minutes. Tom Cruise actually trained for this. He was able to hold his breath under water for six minutes so that the sequence could be shot in a continuous take. I would have appreciated it much more if I knew that going in. But it was a great scene, regardless.
Another great aspect of the movie is that it gets to wonderfully show off the new Dolby Atmos sound system. It’s a fully encompassing technology that is virtually 360 degree surround sound. So, I would recommend going to see this in IMAX or your theater’s premium screens so you get both the advanced picture and sound.
On a side note, the movie was mostly shot on film, which is a plus. So many movies are shot digitally today so it’s always great to see big movies still using film.
Rogue Nation is a great summer popcorn movie. I found the second and third Mission Impossible movies to be terrible, but since Ghost Protocol, the series has been re-invigorated. It’s simply a mindless action movie done very well and delivers on its promise. Nothing more, nothing less. Because it’s unlikely that, at least at this time, you have a large 4K television with a Dolby Atmos system, go see it in the theater while you can.