The Wife and I (that's right, wife is now a proper noun for me. Get used to it) had a rare weekday evening without our daughter home, and so we decided to cash in on one of the various gifts we've received since our wedding shower and go to a movie. There was a collection of films we shared fair to moderate interest in, but we both like to make our trips to the theater count, and so that meant either seeing Jurassic World again, or going to the newest Mission Impossible.
She had been a fan of the series, but I myself had given up on it after the Jon Wu motorcycle duels of Mission Impossible II. I had heard the series got a lot better with the next installments, but I just never made it a point to see them (same with the Bourne series, for some reason). I can't say that I actively stayed away, I just never watched them. So this is my first MI film in over ten years, and WOW, what an impact it had on me.
Let me preface this by saying that when I think of the term "modern spy thriller" only a handful of films come to mind, and of those I can only think of two franchises: James Bond and Mission Impossible. I am very familiar with James Bond. I know the tropes, the beats, the rhythm of a James Bond film like the back of my hand. My initial fears when walking into the theater for Rogue Nation was that this film would just feel like the American James Bond.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Perhaps it's because of my lack of exposure to the franchise's history other than the first two films, but I connected immediately with Mission Impossible's identity and themes on a different level than I ever did with James Bond. Bond films have always been the epitome of 'Foreign Cool Guy with Gadgets'. He's suave, he's calm, he's what I think of when I think of the term 'masculine', in a classic sense. Yet Mission Impossible doesn't seek to copy that formula, and rightly so. Instead, it provides us with a modern look at styles more akin to spy films of the 70's (again, other than James Bond). The opening credits were amazing, and they had me hooked from the word 'Go'.
I'll keep this review brief, and as always, it will be spoiler free. MI:Rogue Nation is a wonderful film that had me reacting vocally more often than not. The plot is layered, but still fairly accessible. Those looking for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy levels of complexity may be disappointed. But it's story only being a few feet deep makes it easy to jump into, and easy to follow as the cast moves from set piece to set piece, action sequence to action sequence.
And that is where the film really shines. Tom Cruise, say what you will about him, is a good actor and an even better action star. The opening scene with the plane had my jaw on the floor and I struggled to pick it back up again as the movie went on. The motorcycle chase washed out the bad taste that was left in my mouth from MI:II, and the tension of the opera house scene was paramount. It was well worth the price of admission, and even better, it makes me want to go all the way back to the first Mission Impossible and watch this franchise grow and take shape in a way that I had missed doing the first time around.
All in all it's a wonderfully shot, wonderfully acted film with a smart script, gripping action and beautiful cast. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend you make it to the theaters before this one leaves.