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‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ Hangs Tough in First Reviews

'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation' Hangs Tough in First Reviews

A week after letting a few reactions dribble out on Twitter, Paramount has given critics leave to go long on “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” and the results, while more mixed, are still highly positive. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy goes as far as to compare Tom Cruise’s fifth outing as Ethan Hunt to that holiest of critical holies, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and while others aren’t quite as effusive, the consensus is that “Rogue Nation” does what it sets out to do — i.e. wrap a story that’s both elementally simplistic and too convoluted to follow around a bunch of nifty setpieces. Like writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s “Jack Reacher,” “Rogue Nation” is lean and mean, and if, as some charge, that means its also generic, at least its got Tom Cruise to make the sales pitch. Coming in for special praise is newcomer Rebecca Ferguson, a kickass colleague who actually takes off her high heels before beginning the kicking of ass. (Take note, “Jurassic World.”) On the con side, some feel the “M:I” series has run out of both steam and ideas, although to be clear, it never had many to begin with; like the “Fast and the Furious” movies, it’s never been more than a pretext to let Tom Cruise flex his muscles — literally, if not acting-wise. Dude’s hanging from the side of a plane for you: What more do you want?

Reviews of “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation”

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

How about this for an impossible mission: a film franchise on its fifth chapter — and nearly 20 years removed from its first installment — that actually gets better over time? “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” succeeds on that front and several others, proving to be the most satisfying, gripping and intelligent film yet in the series. At this late date, it’s hardly news that Tom Cruise brings his dependably combustible, kinetic energy to the character of Ethan Hunt, but writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has fortified him with a ripping yarn, expanding on the can-you-top-this? scope of 2011’s very fine “Ghost Protocol” and adding a noir-ish moodiness. The action scenes are predictably magnificent, and an excellent supporting turn from fetching new cast member Rebecca Ferguson helps make this a sexy, propulsive, top-notch thriller.

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Thanks to a sharp script that springs a real surprise or two and a pace that never slackens, “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” rates as the second-best of the numerous franchise titles of the summer, after “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Armed with an absorbing mystery plot that does more than just connect the dots between action set-pieces (the most outlandish of which is dispensed with in a Bond-like opener), writer-director Christopher McQuarrie maintains the uptick in “M:I” quality established by the last two entries, and should land this entry within the series’ customary range of a half-billion bucks worldwide.

Justin Chang, Variety

While the “Mission: Impossible” movies have employed a different helmer with each new installment, this is, notably, the first one to be directed and solely written by the same filmmaker — which may explain why, even at a pacey, slightly trimmable 131 minutes, “Rogue Nation” feels like the most dramatically sustained and conceptually unified picture in the series. The result is an existential quandary that writer-director Christopher McQuarrie negotiates with characteristic cleverness and a sly respect for the sheer durability of genre; at once questioning and reaffirming the pleasures of cinematic espionage, this is the rare sequel that leaves its franchise feeling not exhausted but surprisingly resurgent at 19 years and counting.

Mike Ryan, Uproxx

It really is interesting to look at the progression of these films. The first was an, again, overly-complicated thriller. The second was “cool” for the sake of being “cool,” which made it awful. J.J. Abrams’ third installment is about as straightforward as these movies have ever been, which was welcome compared to the film that had come before. The fourth instilled some humor along with Tom Cruise running around the outside of the Burj Khalifa. And now we get another installment that has humor and another famous Cruise stunt, this time being strapped to the side of a plane as it takes off. As we watch him on the side of that plane, it’s apparent just how hard he’s trying in an effort to entertain us. He might as well be looking at the camera, screaming, “C’mon, guys. Look what I’m doing, just for you. You realize I could die, right?” It’s a fun stunt, but it’s not why “Rogue Nation” works. It’s truly a team effort — and I think Cruise is starting to realize he really can’t carry one of these movies by himself anymore.

Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

“Mission: Impossible” is no spring chicken, either; it’s been a Hollywood for franchise for 20 years, more than double the time it spent on television in the ’60s and ’70s. That’s impressive longevity in an era when Hollywood has rebooted Spider-Man twice in less than a decade, and it speaks to Cruise’s own longevity as one of the hardest working men in Hollywood. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie previously worked with the actor on the detective thriller “Jack Reacher”, and they bring a similar vibe of lean efficiency to this much bigger production. McQuarrie doesn’t weigh things down with elaborate plot mechanics or flowery dialogue. At all times, he sticks to the mission at hand: intense, suspenseful action.

Jordan Hoffman, Mashable

With 007 (be it Daniel Craig or anyone else), the character carries weight and a true iconic status. Not so with Ethan Hunt. He looks great in a tux, but there’s nothing going on underneath — at least not in this film. But before this brings you down, he’s plunging underwater, launching a car backward or rappelling off the side of a building. McQuarrie knows his bread is buttered on the side of fun, so the pace doesn’t let up. For spectacle and flash, this one is tough to beat.

Ryan Lamble, Den of Geek!

McQuarrie’s handling of the action is also top-notch. One of the best things about the director’s previous film, the flawed “Jack Reacher,” was his action direction, and he makes the most with his expanded budget here: in terms of set-pieces, this is among the best in the franchise so far. Slightly less gadget-laden than “Ghost Protocol,” “Rogue Nation” comes up with some cleverly-wrought new scrapes for Hunt to find his way out of. Robert Elswit’s cinematography is just on the right side of frenetic, constantly placing the camera in the midst of the action without sacrificing coherence. We may have seen Cruise hurtle around on motorcycle before (it seems to be written in his contract — “M:I 2,” “Knight And Day,” and even the sci-fi flick “Oblivion”), but McQuarrie and Elswit bring an immediacy to the chase sequences that makes them feel fresh.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” is the very model of a modern major film franchise: Loaded with globe-trotting adventure, breathtaking stunts and just enough plot to hold together the whole ball of wax, it’s the sort of movie where you wouldn’t bat an eye if Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team were suddenly replaced by the cast of “Furious 7.”

Henry Barnes, Guardian

You can shoot him, stab him, drown him, blow him up or pair him with Thandie Newton, but you can’t stop Ethan Hunt, because he’s played by Tom Cruise. Returning to make a mockery of the series title for a fifth time, Cruise ploughs through “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” a sequel that is slick with silliness, but peppered with enough wit and peril to sustain the franchise’s momentum.

Tom Huddleston, Time Out

In the plus camp we have Ferguson, the wonderful Sean Harris as a psycho with the voice of Baron Greenback from “Dangermouse” and a fistful of tight, not-too-flashy action scenes (short of some fleeting funny business with a plane right at the start, there are no daft, gravity-defying stunts this time). But the debit column is a line or two longer, from the uninvolving plot to the blunt dialogue, from Cruise’s empty-shell performance to Alec Baldwin delivering perhaps the most idiotic line ever in a major blockbuster (at the screening we attended, the entire audience hooted with laughter). If, as we suspect, this turns out to be Ethan’s last impossible mission, we can’t imagine he’ll be greatly mourned.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

As a whole the entire endeavor has started to show signs of tedium. We’ve come a long way since a single bead could play the chief vessel of suspense in a mainstream narrative. Instead, there’s Cruise in a CGI-enabled underground water tank, struggling to hold his breath for three minutes while dodging huge, churning machinery; elsewhere, he grasps the edge of an airplane during takeoff before bursting through its doors. These physically daring stunts are certainly a lot of fun, but hardly offer much in the way of the memorable, inventive storytelling that turns Hunt’s absurd feats into relatable endeavors. Instead, “Rogue Nation” plays out like a sufficient rejigging of the same variables tossed around many times before, which is just enough to both celebrate the material and demonstrate its limitations. 

Robbie Collin, Telegraph

The problem with borrowing set-pieces from Hitchcock is that if the rest of the film isn’t up to snuff, people notice – and in “Rogue Nation,” boy, do you notice. Contrary to its title, this may prove to be the summer’s most timid blockbuster: the director, Christopher MacQuarrie, and his co-writer Drew Pearce color so gingerly within the spy-movie lines that memories of the film, like secret messages, are liable to self-destruct in five seconds flat.

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