The 400-Word Review:
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

By Sean Collier

August 3, 2015

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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, the title of which has at least one entirely unnecessary punctuation mark, is a movie movie. It’s full of movie stars. It’s constantly hopping to exotic locations. There are high-speed chases and claustrophobic fights. There are beautiful people everywhere. It bears more marks of long-term cinematic convention — that is, trends that were evident 50 or more years ago — than any other tentpole release this summer.

At the same time, we’re living in the over-the-top era of filmmaking; it is no longer enough to make a straight-up action flick and wait for audiences to arrive. (Ask Arnold how that works in 2015.) Every big name at the summer multiplex must have an identifiable gimmick: You have to come out to see the dinosaurs fight. You have to come out to see the cars drive out of planes. You have to come out because there are just so gosh darn many superheroes.

Rogue Nation’s answer: You have to come out because we made at least a half-dozen extended action sequences, each with the juice and general insanity to serve as the climax of a garden-variety adventure. It is a movie full of climaxes. Which is occasionally thrilling — and also tedious.

Briefly (because nothing is more irrelevant to the Mission: Impossible series than the plot details), a multinational terrorist organization — the Syndicate — believed to exist by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his clandestine spy outfit, the IMF, turns out to be real. Unfortunately, the CIA — as repped by humorless director Alan Huntley (Alec Baldwin) — doesn’t buy it, and thinks the IMF is causing more problems than it’s solving. Hunt is cast out while simultaneously being pursued by the Syndicate and must secure some assistance and topple the bad guys without alerting the CIA.


Cruise is fine, second-banana Benji (Simon Pegg) is funny and femme fatale Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) shoulders much of the heavy lifting. Both script and direction, from Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie, are good enough.

But this is all about those big blowout set pieces. Two — an extended fight at the opera house during a performance of Turandot and a street chase through Casablanca — are excellent. But more, including the film’s actual climax, are dull or superfluous. There’s more than enough in Rogue Nation to entertain and mildly engage, but little to recommend it above the summer’s pack.

My Rating: 6/10

Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at



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