The Hunt for the Syn-bin-dicate
Mission: Impossible has always felt like a standalone film and in that vein it is similar to the James Bond franchise. Every once in a while the installments try to wedge in some continuity but it only does enough to make you go “oh yeah! that thing”. Rogue Nation is not unfamiliar in this respect.
Rogue Nation kicks off by loosely following the events of Ghost Protocol which closed with the Kremlin partly in ruins. Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), director of the CIA, appears before a senate to demand that the IMF is disbanded due to its reckless nature. Meanwhile Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on the verge of confirming a super secret bunch of “highly trained” spy soldier dudes hellbent on taking down the IMF known as the syndicate.
What I don’t understand about this film is that if this rogue nation of spies really is as highly trained as we are routinely told throughout the film then why does the IMF wipe the floor with these idiots. You never really get the feeling Hunt is ever in danger – at least not from the syndicate.
Sure they always seem to be one step ahead but that’s only because of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who is the worst villain since Kim Jong Il. Solomon might be intelligent but Harris plays such an uptight and stern bad guy that he looks like a stereotypical German villain from a 1980’s b-movie.
And what is with that ridiculous voice? Did someone get Batman’s Bane to so voice over work after kicking him square in the conkers?
OK, so the syndicate were and useless and pathetic but at least their motivations were well argued. You see they want to err… Oh god!? I honestly don’t remember why they were even there. I guess that proves how awful that organisation is.
That said there are other reasons to go see the movie as it feels more balanced than almost any of its predecessors. It has a decent balance of action, plot development and most importantly; quiet moments.
It’s really important to have downtime in an action movie as it gives you breathers to reflect on what you have seen and lets your anticipation build for the next scenes.
So I was pleased that Rogue Nation allows time for dialogue and even some lingering long takes. The scene where Hunt passes out underwater has a lovely, but eerie, silence to it that helps bring drama to the mission where the Syndicate fails to do so.
The most notable scenes in any Mission: Impossible though is of course the action. Rogue Nation eclipses almost all of the previous films with its motorcycle chase scene. All the stunts are real and not CGI making it a joyous spectacle to watch. I probably could have watched an hour long version of that scene alone.
The handheld combat scenes also hold up well. The is-she-isn’t-she-an-ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) plays a critical role in delivering punch to these scenes, no pun intended. A number of plot twists and turns help flesh out her character and her relationship with the IMF. The fact that she looks great in a fight scene is a bonus.
Although the syndicate feels like a pitiful inclusion of faceless minions and not the anti-IMF we were promised, Rogue Nation keeps interest through its superb motorbike chase scene, quiet moments and the frenemy that is Ilsa Faust even if she will be forgotten in the next Mission: Impossible. After all continuity in this franchise is about ignoring continuity, right?
- Motor madness
- Girl fight
- Well balanced
- The forgettable syndicate
- The really bad, bad guy
- Not MI’s strongest entry