Mission:Impossible-- Rogue Nation

 

            “Your mission, Mr. Hunt, should you choose to accep it....”

            Of course we know that he will accept it.  And we're looking forward to seeing him try to accomplish the impossible.  The fact that it's so extremely unlikely in the real world doesn't bother us a bit.  We'd just like to think that there is somebody out there so incredibly skilled and competent who's fighting the invisble bad guys so that we can all sleep better at night.

            Sleep seems to be in short supply here, as this nonstop action movie turns up the adrenalin from the beginning, and doesn't let up until the very end.  Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt, who's part of a covert operative group outside the CIA or the military, but is dedicated to stopping America's international enemies.  Here, it seems that a dastardly new group called The Syndicate has recruited disavowed and disgruntled spies from all over the globe, many of whom have also managed to fake their own demise.  Their goal seems to be to spread chaos and disharmony, through accidents that aren't accidents targeted at top officials of government and industry, particularly the ones devoted to peacekeeping.  Ethan Hunt has been tracking this Syndicate all over the globe, but its leadership has remained elusive, until he actually catches sight of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a disgraced ex-British spy, who's apparently the mastermind, but he's not easy to catch.

            It turns out that he is extremely well-funded, in part because he's had help from inside MI6, because the rogue syndicate was originally set up to eliminate opposition without the niceties of Her Majesty's government approval, or any official accountability.  But the Prime Minister did not approve, because he feared the Syndicate would become a law unto itself, which is exactly what has happened, despite MI6's efforts to send its best counter-spy, Ilsa (Rebecca Feguson) to penetrate the Syndicate, and either bring it back under MI6's control or eliminate its head. 

            Ethan Hunt becomes persona non grata when the CIA decides to disavow the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), so now he's operating virtually alone.  Except some of his old buddies, like Benji  Dunn (Simon Pegg) decide to help out, anyway, and whose side is Ilsa really on, anyway?

            All this setup, of course, is really just an excuse for some breathtaking action sequences, like Ethan Hunt holding on to the outside of a plane taking off, or a knife fight in close quarters, or pulse-pounding car chase scenes, even see-how-long-you-can-hold-your-breath-underwater.  Nice touch with the backstage shenanigans while the Viennese Opera is in full performance mode.

            Is Tom Cruise a little long in the tooth for this part?  Maybe.  But in the original television show, Peter Graves was already silver-haired in the lead role, and in the last “James Bond” movie, Daniel Craig wasn't exactly a fresh face, either.  Unlike the Bond series, though, there's no tongue-in-cheek here, and almost no humor.  And there's only a faint whiff of romance, unfulfilled.  We're far too busy saving the world here to actually relax and enjoy ourselves, even for a moment.  But that slick fast pacing also prevents us from thinking too much about the plot holes.  Just enjoy the bumpy thrill ride.

 

Questions For Discussion:

1)                  Should there be a covert operations group to eliminate our enemies? If so, to whom should it be accountable?

2)                  Should we share intelligence information with our allies, like the British, or should there be things that we withold from them?  Who decides?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas