Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

Considering we’ve reached the fifth instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, it would appear that Ethan Hunt’s risky missions are in fact, possible.

Ramping up the action nearly twenty years since the first M:I film, a ragged Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is back for another global mission, with the aid of his offsiders as introduced in Ghost Protocol: William Brandt (Renner), and Benji (Pegg). This time, their organisation – The Impossible Mission Force (cringe) – has been shut down by the CIA as a result of the events in Ghost Protocol. This forces Hunt to go rogue, hiding from steely CIA chief Alan Huntley (Baldwin), while trying to stop a multinational group of former operatives known as ‘The Syndicate’, led by an evil guy wearing a trenchcoat and gloves. Surely they would be dying to come up with a name with more villainy.

2011’s Ghost Protocol reimagined and rebooted the M:I series after a few paltry entries. Hunt no longer goes it alone, and the ensemble is even tighter in this film. Pegg is excellent as loyal Benji, his comic timing adds an extra layer of silliness to this already absurd affair. Similarly, Baldwin is an excellent addition, and his performance gets better and better as the film progresses. Just wait until he proclaims: ‘Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny.’

This franchise prides itself on the stunts, and Rogue Nation did not disappoint. The opening sequence sees Hunt clinging on to the side of a plane ascending from a runway – which Cruise actually did himself. Similarly, an underwater sequence will leave you gasping for air (what is meant to be three minutes of oxygen lasts a suspiciously long time); and a gorgeous BMW smashes and crashes down flights of stairs in Morocco. Nothing matches the insanity of the scaling of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper in GP, but still, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. It should be said too that as punchy as these sequences are, the film’s lengthy runtime means there are plenty of quiet moments that don’t match the thrill of these action pieces. The best sequence of all arrives at an Opera – just watch how music is used to build the scene. It’s very clever.

‘You’re free now.’

As with most spy movies, the theme of identity is prominent. Past actions result in consequences for a number of the characters, and for some, freedom is longed for. What true freedom is, seems to have been forgotten in some ways.

This film might provide some opportunities to talk with your friends about who we are, how we operate, and where we find our purpose. For us who trust in Christ, our identity is tied up with him, because he has saved us and adopted us to be his own. Colossians 1:21-23:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

While we make mistakes frequently, while we let others down, while we have a low view of ourselves, these things don’t define us. There is no need to cling on to these things anymore. God has freed us from our sin, and reconciled us to himself – he has given us true freedom – all because of what he achieved at the cross. But with his help, we must stand firm in this identity, knowing that true freedom comes through following him, and the trusting in the hope of the gospel.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is silly, spy-centric fun. It’s the cherry on the cake of blockbuster season, and will leave you wanting more. Four stars.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is releasing worldwide later this week.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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