Although it began a series of increasingly good summer blockbuster over the course of two decades, 1996’s relaunch of the television series of the same name as a theatrical film (which introduced the world to Tom Cruise‘s most successful ongoing character in IMF Agent Ethan Hunt) is problematic at best. Poorly plotted, including a huge fuck you to fans of the original series by turning the television show’s central hero (Peter Graves) into a greedy villain (Jon Voight) selling CIA secrets to the highest bidder, the film hasn’t aged well. Turning Jim Phelps into a villain would be like rebooting Superman into a coldblooded killer. What kind of an asshole would do that?
Opening with the death of an IMF team (Kristin Scott Thomas, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Emilio Estevez) and Ethan on the run from his former bosses who believe he is responsible, the film climaxes early on with a break-in at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It’s this sequence, and really only this sequence, that’s worth noting from the otherwise forgettable tale.
What makes my enjoyment of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation all the more surprising is I’m not the biggest fan of the plot-framing device McQuarrie chooses to recycle in planting our heroes on the outside of their agency working essentially as rogue agents to save the day for those not smart enough to listen to them (here played by Alec Baldwin). The series tried it once, with Brian De Palma‘s bastardization of the original series, with mixed results. The plot is so common the Bond franchise has used it multiple times (License to Kill, Quantum of Solace, Diamonds Are Forever to name three – none of which would be considered among the series’ best).
After an attempt to retrieve information in the Kremlin ends in disaster with the team blamed for a terrorist bombing the IMF is disbanded leaving only these four agents, and whatever they have with them, to stop the real terrorists and prove their innocence.The mission will take the team from Russia to the United Arab Emirates to India. For more on the film check out my original review of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
The movie works as well on Blu-ray as it did in theaters. The story and stunts hold up quite well and even knowing the small twist of Ethan’s wife (Michelle Monaghan) won’t spoil anything for you a second time around.