Peter Suderman Reviews Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation


Here's the opening to my review of the latest installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Rogue Nation. 

What is it, do you suppose, that Ethan Hunt — the protagonist played by Tom Cruise in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise — does in his downtime?

Judging by his ripped physique, he works out quite a bit, and the expensive-looking cut of his hair suggests he visits a fancy stylist with frequency. He wears expertly cut suits that suggest a long-standing relationship with a pricey tailor.

But beyond the physical, it's hard to imagine what he might be like when he's not cavorting around the world and participating in fantastically complex break-ins of famous international locations.

Does he have a personal life? Hobbies? Friends? Preferences or personal tastes of any kind?

The third film in the series briefly cast him as a married man who disguised himself as a mild-mannered government traffic analyst, but that pretense was mostly dropped in the follow-up, "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" and has vanished entirely in the latest entry, "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation."

Even Hunt's spy-mission teammates tend to come and go without explanation. A fellow agent played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers disappeared after the third installment; another one played by Paula Patton went missing after the fourth. Only Ving Rhames' Luther Stickell has appeared in all five films. Otherwise, Hunt is an island — a man with no obvious past or personality.

Like its protagonist, the "Mission: Impossible" series is one with no discernible inner life. It is a film franchise entirely concerned with surface and spectacle, with twists and turns that lead only to more twists and turns, and elaborately choreographed action set pieces that exist mostly for their own sake.

And, okay, I suppose that's not an entirely bad thing. For a shallow stunt-reel of a movie, it's actually pretty good. Most critics seem to agree: Rogue Nation currently has a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Read my complete review in The Washington Times. Read Kurt Loder's take here

NEXT: Big Fun at Transhumanist Summer Camp

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  1. It is a film franchise entirely concerned with surface and spectacle, with twists and turns that lead only to more twists and turns, and elaborately choreographed action set pieces that exist mostly for their own sake.

    Mad Max Thunder Road in a nutshell, but everyone loved that movie. I thought it was ok, not awesome or anything.

    1. *Fury Road.

    2. Not really, that had character work and story.

      1. It was basically a chase scene with pit stops for story, it was ok but the Road Warrior still outclasses it in a lot of ways.

  2. That’s all I need. Really loved Ghost Protes and excited to see this. I don’t care who Ethan Hunt is as a human being.

  3. Tom Cruise is a national treasure. I don’t care what religious freakshow he belongs to, his movies almost always entertain me on some level.

    1. And he always commits like a madman. I’ve never seen him phone in a performance. Plus all the crazy stunts he does himself.

    2. I want a tissue sample. There must be some crazy biology going on because that guy does not age. Ever.

      1. Better candidates would be Gillian Anderson and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

    3. He made Tropic Thunder.

    4. Same here. I don’t recall ever being disappointed in his performances. Not sure he’s got huge range, but Mr. Docile nailed it: he commits to every role.

  4. So basically, the protagonists lack a defined personality; spend their entire waking hours working tirelessly and selflessly to advance their organization’s heroic goals, and occasionally coworkers will vanish – with people pretending they never existed.

    I can see why the Church of Scientology has placed its unofficial imprimatur on this series.

  5. So are there any other good movies out? Is Inside Out good?

    1. I’ve heard good things, but I don’t know anyone who wants to go with me. Maybe I’ll rope my niece into seeing it for a third time.

    2. I enjoyed it. Not one of their strongest, but Pixar has set that bar crazy high. Good movie.

  6. The last thought that would have entered my mind after viewing the first one is “I want to watch four more of these.” Come ON, people.

    And it had nothing to do with Cruise – I’ve enjoyed him in some movies (e.g. Minority Report). I had everything to do with being pointlessly convoluted and oh-so-clever.

  7. Very funny: Honest Trailers: ‘Mission[s] Impossible’

    “But Tom Cruise isn’t doing it alone. He’ll be backed up by a whole team of replaceable cast-mates like Guy With a Laptop….”

  8. Cruise and the MI movie franchise lost me at installment #1, by taking a big dump on the legacy of the TV show and going their own way with new cast and characters. It was a good enough movie, and I suppose the sequels are entertaining, in their way, but the producers and Mr. Cruise were wrong to piggy-back on the name without actually delivering what those who remember and respect that name reasonably expected. Having any cojones or confidence in their production, they could have called it something else, but they chose to spit in the eyes of fans of the original MI.

    I have a similar grudge against Eddie Murphy and his associates, for pulling the same maneuver with Doctor Dolittle. In what universe did they possibly think it was OK to replace a portly, nineteenth century English country doctor with a trim, 20th century urban American doctor? A story about someone who can talk to animals, done well, will ALWAYS be interesting. Why not invent a new set of characters, instead of trading on a long-established name with its own rich legacy, but sweeping the latter under the rug? I understand: They need to get those butts in seats, by hook or by crook. But in my book, it’s crook, whatever Cruise and Murphy’s people may have paid for the rights to abuse the names.

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