Friday, 31 July 2015


For a filmmaker, content is everything, but context is everything else. It's hard to imagine a movie like Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation without first considering the four films that directly preceded it. The film functions quite nicely as a standalone work - as it surely had to, coming almost 20 years after the first in its franchise - yet it bears a slickness and a degree of confidence in its character that would have been hard to acquire, if not impossible, were it not for the foundation established over those two decades. Rogue Nation is an odd tentpole film in this age - the stakes are as high as the modern blockbuster era demands, and the setpieces stretch even higher, but its spirit is distinctly sober. It's an old-fashioned espionage film with new-fashioned tech, and though it's at its most sizzling indulging in the suspenseful action sequences that are this franchise's bread and butter, it's at its most satisfying when it lets the talking do the talking. The throwback vibe generated by plotty exchanges of dialogue and insight into the nature of espionage in the contemporary geopolitical landscape extends into those setpieces, which are perhaps only as thrilling as they are because of this. But the concessions this quasi-Hitchcockian film makes to the audience of 2015 only seem more unfortunate in such unflattering juxtaposition; several (straight white male) characters from old franchise installments carry a sense of obsolescence with them. Additionally, there is a number of loosely edited, befuddlingly scripted scenes that serve little purpose, belying spotty filmmaking and generating pacing problems. All is forgiven in the light of one new addition that wholly works - the indomitable Rebecca Ferguson, an amped-up reincarnation of Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall, with astounding action chops and even more astounding screen presence. She's a bona fide star, and alone is reason enough to see Rogue Nation.