There’s something you should know about me…it’s that “Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol” is my favorite movie of all time. But that’s not what we’re here to celebrate today. In close relation, today marks the 5 year anniversary of the release date of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” on July 31st, 2015 (I went to an early Thursday night screening because I wait for no one.)
I still stand by my claim that the fifth entry of the franchise is better than the most recent (which is apparently a hot take). Allow me to elaborate on some of the elements that I believe make this one of the strongest additions to the franchise.
Best Introduction of Characters
I am amongst the firm belief that one should be able to enter any installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise without having seen the previous films. This is not only because it was how I stumbled upon the franchise (ghotocol being my introduction), but because that was the original intention of Cruise of choosing a different director for each installment before the continual direction of Christopher McQuarrie.
“Rogue Nation” has by far the cleanest, clearest, and quickest introduction of all the team members one should know about from previous films all from the behaviors and actions of everyone in the opening of the film. The mission: extract dangerous package on a plane that’s about to take off. We see Brandt (Jeremy Renner) overseeing everything and attempting to be the voice of reason whilst also ending up the Captain Obvious of the situation. We see Benji (Simon Pegg), who knows way more about technology than would presently be let on and tends to fumble through but eventually get the job done. We see Luther (Ving Rhames), the seasoned vet who has zero fucks to give.
And then our introduction of Ethan Hunt. The plane is already taking off. Ethan’s response as he first appears: “Can you open the door?”
For anyone to whom this is their first interaction with the series, their initial impression of Ethan Hunt is a man who will latch onto the outside of a moving plane as it takes off just to complete a mission and save lives. I cannot think of a better way to introduce both Ethan Hunt and the overall bonkers antics of the franchise, the stakes of which only get higher with each passing film.
Ilsa. Fucking. Faust.
While I to this day lament the lack of Paula Patton’s Jane returning to this franchise, holy moly did we get a gift in Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust. Both a powerhouse in her own right and a foil for Ethan, Ferguson steals the show as the undercover MI6 agent.
With all the respect in the world, Rebecca Ferguson has my full consent to murder me with her thighs the way she does to countless men in this. Not only is Ilsa fierce agent, physically and intellectually capable of her job, but she is allowed a vulnerability in her situation. All she wants to do is to come home, a want that is threatened when her conscious keeps leading her to save Ethan’s ass whenever they cross paths.
I also can’t stress enough how much I appreciated a simple hug between Ilsa and Ethan at the end rather than a somewhat anticipated kiss. It shouldn’t be so exemplary in this day and age for an action film’s sole female character to not have to be a love interest to anyone, but unfortunately I’m still praising examples like this.
William Elizabeth Brandt
Brandt is really the only IMF team member of the franchise who, due to his background as an analyst, sees through the hero worship of Ethan and questions his authority. It’s a cause for conflict we see specifically in “Rogue: Nation” when Ethan does not want to notify the British government that their Prime Minister is a target. He eventually concedes, which leads to Benji’s kidnapping and makes him go even more ballistic. I truly feel that something was lost in “Fallout” that we see in “Rogue Nation” of Brandt’s motivation not to blindly follow Ethan, but to save a fellow member of the team.
As Renner’s return to the franchise is still up in air at best, “Rogue Nation “also gives us the closest we will get to Brandt “seducing the rich guy” as promised in the previous film.
Not The Damsel In Distress You Would Expect
The big ol’ climax of the film is not only to stop Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), but to save Benji. The emotional stakes created here are usual that utilized in a damsel-in-distress heterosexual relationship dynamic. However, in “Rogue Nation,” Ethan is just as committed to saving Benji as is he is in saving his wife Julia or his lover Nyah in previous installments. This is not meant to imply anything, although I could write an even longer piece my personal view of homoerotism of this entire franchise. Instead I just implicate how refreshing it is for once that a woman’s peril is not the emotional stake of the third act.
If you are new to this franchise and somehow made it this far, congratulations and I hope this inspired to at least watch “Rogue Nation” on its five-year anniversary. If not, give it a revisit and consider its placement in your own “Mission: Impossible” rankings. Either way, I believe a viewing today has much to offer.