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Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment
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1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/7/2015

If you look at Tom Cruise's filography, there's no doubt that he's been in many blockbuster films and that he's rightly regarded as one of the world's top box-office draws. But, that doesn't mean that his career hasn't had its ups and downs. (For someone of his caliber, Cruise works a lot, so he's bound to have some underachieving projects.) Despite what is implied on the making-of featurette found on the Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Blu-ray Disc, I think that Cruise sees the Mission: Impossible franchise and a life preserver which helps him to bounce back from projects which haven't lived up to the hype. Since 1996, there have been five Mission: Impossible movies, and if you look at the list of Cruise's films, it hard to ignore the fact that they show up after he's had some misfires. Following the less-than-stellar results of Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, and Edge of Tomorrow, with only the latter reaching the $100 million mark (which is amazing, as no one seems to know what that movie is called), Cruise returns with Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Will it get him back into the stratosphere?

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation takes place some time after the events of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is searching the globe for a group known only as The Syndicate, who utilize the services of spies thought to be deceased. Meanwhile CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is attempting to prove that IMF (Impossible Mission Force - the worst name ever for a group) is reckless and irresponsible and must be shut down, despite William Brandt's (Jeremy Renner) arguments to the contrary. Ethan gets a lead on The Syndicate in London and learns that a shadowy man named Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is behind the organization. He also meets a possible ally when Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) helps him escape from a trap. Ethan recruits his old friends Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhame) to help him travel the world to find and stop Lane.

If you can say one thing about the Mission: Impossible series, it's that Cruise and his producing partners have allowed each film to be different. Each has been helmed by a different director and each has its own vibe. This can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive side, it's nice to see someone in Hollywood (somewhat) throw caution to the wind and encourage some diversity. On the negative side, when it comes to a film series, we expect some uniformity and consistency, especially in terms of quality, and we certainly don't get that with the Mission: Impossible films. The first one was so bombastic that it had to be admired, but II and III did very little to stand out. However, the series came roaring back with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, as film which offered great action sequences and a nicely streamlined script.

For Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Cruise has enlisted Christopher McQuarrie to direct and co-write the script, as they worked together on Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow. And while this continues the tradition of having a different director on each film, Iím not sure if McQuarrie was the right person for the job. He and co-writer Drew Pearce have clearly taken a cue from Ghost Protocol and attempted to create a story which moves away from the overly complicated nature of the first two films. This leaves us with a fairly straight-forward rogue agent story, and the subplot concerning the possible demise of IMF. The problem is that the story is a little too milque-toast. Itís very easy to compare the Mission: Impossible with the James Bond films, and Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation certainly treads into Bond territory, as Ethan becomes entangled with Ilsa, following her around the globe, just as Bond wold with one of his femme fatales. The problem here is that the film plays the ďis Ilsa good or badĒ card for far too long.

Another problem area with the film concerns the action scenes and the pacing. Ghost Protocol featured some amazing action set-pieces, most notably the opening, and the movie never felt like it was two-hours plus. While Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation offers a variety of action sequences, none of them feel very unique or special. The underwater scene contains some nice shots, but weíve seen things like this before. The lack of anything truly special hurts the pacing and the movie crawls at times. It took me three sittings to finish the movie, as I would lose interest.

Finally, we come to the point that we all know -- a villain can make or break a movie like this, and Solomon Lane is a dud. He kind of reminded me of Steve Jobs, except I think that Steve Jobs was more sinister. Seriously, this is just a guy in a black turtleneck and glasses. Thereís nothing even remotely scary or interesting about him. We are treated to these huge scenes of Ethan jumping on moving plane or racing a motorcycle through the desert all to stop a guy who looks like a beatnik?

I realize that Iím making Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation sound like some sort of trainwreck, which it isnít. Instead, itís simply a step backwards for the series. It would have taken a monumental film to live up to Ghost Protocol, and Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation doesnít even come close. Iím sure that rabid fans of the series will find something to like, but the casual viewer may come away wondering how so much, yet so little can happen in a film.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation took London record shops off of my list on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is impressive and the picture is never soft. The picture offers great depth, as the foreground and background are clearly defined. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a muscular track which delivers very clear stereo and surround sound effects. During the action sequences, we are immersed in these effects, as the track shows off individual sounds and great separation. The subwoofer effects are very strong and really add to the action.

The Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise. "Lighting the Fuse" (6 minutes) has McQuarrie and Cruise discussing the origin and planning of the film, focusing on the story, the story arcs, and the action scenes. "Cruise Control" (7 minutes) examines how Cruise is involved in the making of the movie as both an actor and a producer, and how he likes to be very hands-on. "Heroes..." (8 minutes) looks at the characters and how the various members of the IMF have changed and what their challenges are in this film. The piece contains comments from most of the primary cast. "Cruising Altitude" (8 minutes) looks at the conception of and the execution of the opening sequence, taking us on-set to see all of the planning involved. "Mission: Immersible" (7 minutes) takes us into the tank to see how the underwater sequence was done. Likewise, we go on-location for the motorcycle chase and we also see how the road was actually empty in "Sand Theft Auto" (6 minutes). "The Missions Continue" (7 minutes) gives an overview of the series through clips and interviews.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long