The Mission: Impossible Collection #5 Rogue Nation

The Mission Impossible movie franchise is 25 years old, and while it is a whole 12 months before Mission Impossible 7 debuts – and with the production on another COVID pause – I thought this week would be the time for a spoiler-filled dive into ROGUE NATION.

The Director

Christopher McQuarrie is best known as writer of the Oscar-winning script for The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, and director of The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher. These frequent collaborations with Tom Cruise mean that his arrival as part of the Mission Impossible team makes perfect sense.

Hunt on the Run

The movie starts with the pre-title sequence where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is trying to recover the payload from a cargo plane. Being Ethan Hunt, the character ends up holding onto the outside of the plane as it takes off. Being Tom Cruise, the actor performed the stunt himself.

Soon we learn that the CIA headed by Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is gunning for the closure of the IMF, especially following the incidents in Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Brandt (Jeremy Renner) tries to hold him off to allow Hunt to continue to pursue “The Syndicate”.

The Syndicate

This “anti IMF” force of former agents from across the world is seemingly creating havoc globally and was teased in the previous film. The leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is introduced early, killing a contact in the opening minutes of the film. His quietly spoken and completely controlled demeanour make him a very different foe.

That “Mission Impossible” Moment

The suspense in the underwater scene where Hunt tries to swap files in “The Torus” is gripping, especially when you learn the scene was filmed in real time, with Cruise holding his breath for six minutes. The scene in the opera house is the real highlight of the film, with echoes of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much as the assassination must take place when a certain note is hit in the operatic score. Hunt’s fight with one assassin in the gantries above the stage is great, as is the tension of realising that two other assassins, including the mysterious Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) are there.

Tom Cruise Running Scene

The foot pursuit in the streets of foggy-old London town satisfies that itch. Although a topless dash towards the camera in the dungeon also works.

Don’t Forget

The punch-up escape in the dungeon with Ilsa and Hunt (with the rabbit’s foot keyring for MI3 Easter egg fans). The later pursuit of Ilsa through the streets of Casablanca with that trailer moment when Hunt’s car spins in the narrow alley taking out two motorcycling goons. The hair-raising motorcycle chase which is high on thrills (and more exhilarating than the chase in MI2). The scene at the Tower of London where Hunt speaks to Lane through Benji (bud in ear, camera contact lens in eye, strapped to a bomb).

Honourable Mention

Joe Kraemer’s score uses the traditional Mission Impossible music to great effect, with bombastic trumpets and percussion to punch those action beats. His interpretation of the operatic themes in Turandot is a classy touch, and the strains of Nessum Dorma in later Ilsa scenes recall her introduction – is she good or evil?


It is reassuring when Brandt and Luther (Ving Rhames) join them in the latter half, for what is the IMF without a team?

It is also fun to see a return to spy craft, with involvement of the CIA and MI6, and the scene with Tom Hollander as the British Prime Minister and Simon McBurney as Atlee – along with a surprise mask reveal is fun. The reveal of what The Syndicate really is, and what Lane wants is very satisfying.

Yet for me the Torus scene is not as gripping as the heist scenes from the previous movies. While the deliberately understated finale in the “glass box” is a nice way to bring the movie full circle, it feels a little underwhelming.

The Parallax View / Rogue Nation

Christopher McQuarrie is a filmmaker clearly inspired by the movie makers who came before him – the committee scene echoes Alan J Pakula’s conspiracy thriller The Parallax View and the use of another Hitchcockian MacGuffin in the elusive file everyone’s chasing makes for a satisfying spy thriller where you are never sure who to trust. For some though, the lack of swagger seen in Ghost Protocol may leave them wanting more.

Next Time

Luckily, McQuarrie would be back for the bigger and better Fallout, with returning heroes and villains, stunning action and Henry Cavill cocking his guns.

Producer Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams, Brian Burk
David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger
Director Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay Christopher McQuarrie
Cinematographer Robert Elswit
Editor Eddie Hamilton
Music Joe Kraemer
US premiere July 2015
Tom Cruise Ethan Hunt
Jeremy Renner Brandt
Simon Pegg Benji
Rebecca Ferguson Ilsa Faust
Ving Rhames Luther
Sean Harris Lane
Simon McBurney Atlee
Tom Hollander Prime Minister
Alec Baldwin Hunley

First published on Reel Anarchy.

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