Since the film does manage to make time for a plot, I suppose I'll go ahead and carve out space for its description. Picking up where 2011's gloriously imaginative Ghost Protocol left off, Rogue Nation finds
Prior to Rogue Nation, I wouldn't have described myself as an avid Mission: Impossible fan. Yes, Ghost Protocol is an action picture that can confidently stand next to the best in the genre's history without batting an eye, but the third entry didn't exactly knock my socks off, and the first two are simply too far in my personal rearview mirror to state an informed opinion. All of this to say, the prospect of yet another MI picture was strictly a modest curiosity when the lights went down at my screening, and yet, less than 48 hours after walking out of the theater, I feel fully confident that I will never miss another entry. With the exception of a dragging 15-minute stretch that starts around the 80-minute mark, this movie slapped a smile on my face that was big enough to make my cheeks ache by the time it was finally over.
If there's any complaint to be made about Cruise's newest savior-complex-enabler, it's to be found in the previous sentence, specifically in the word 'finally.' Rogue Nation is non-stop in a fashion that borders on insanity, and while its set pieces might not match the awe-inspiring glory of director Brad Bird's previous installment, the minutia of how our characters get from point A to point B is immediately more white-knuckled, and pulse-pounding. These are, of course, compliments for a movie that aims to serve as a roller coaster first, and a proper film second, but its 131 minute runtime insures that you feel at least slightly weathered by the time the credits roll. It's an odd complaint given that none of the individual sequences is anything less than captivating, but if we're picking knits here, the picture could have better maximized its impressive impact by trimming the runtime by just a hair.
Other than that, everything is gravy. The convoluted plot, while immediately as thorny and undulating as each of the previous entries, is easier to follow than its predecessors due to writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's graceful deployment of plot points and pertinent information. But something tells me it's not his pen that will cause film fans to view the helmer differently upon viewing his latest film. Excluding that aforementioned 15-minute stretch, Rogue Nation is downright obsessive about not wasting your time, powering through one intense action sequence after another with its hands firmly on the wheel, and its foot pushing the gas pedal to the floor. Editor Eddie Hamilton also deserves credit for the rousing manner in which it all goes down, slicing through the mania without losing the audience for any prolonged stretches of time. The newest Mission: Impossible is a blast, filled with fun actors, technical prowess, and an emphasis on practical effects that's capable of dropping jaws while computer animated mayhem is busy drawing yawns. Sorry, no Tom Cruise think-piece here; you could google almost any other review of Rogue Nation and find innumerable explanations of how the film works in conjunction with the actor's damaged public persona. There's certainly a lot to absorb in that arena, but I want to keep this write-up clear and precise, as to not lose the only MI5 argument I personally feel any dire need to get behind: Rogue Nation is freaking awesome, and if you haven't seen it already, go buy a damn ticket.