“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011), dir. Brad Bird
After the great first installment, which was – let’s be honest – made as a response to Bond reborn in Pierce Brosnan’s body, the series fluctuated into one extreme after another: an over the top, nonsensical, stunts-ridden mess of M-I:2 and an intense spy thriller with a personal touch in M:I-3. Ghost Protocol is where the series finally found its ground: somewhere in between.
It contains the best elements of the predecessors: some unforgettable stunts (the Burj Khalifa sequence impressed me greatly on an IMAX screen) with a sadly entirely forgettable plot. See, I remember leaving the IMAX cinema utterly blown by the spectacle, but some years later, when I caught the last act of the movie on TV I just couldn’t muster the energy to watch it to the end. I didn’t remember who was who, what was the plot, and watching it again yesterday I realized it’s the Generic Spy Plot Number 2 (“stolen nuclear launch codes”; if you’re wondering, Generic Spy Plot Number 1 is “stolen list of secret agent identities”, as seen most recently in Atomic Blonde, Skyfall and, yes, the first M:I as well) all over again.
But still, the action is great, the characters likable (Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt makes acquaintance both with future Jason Bourne replacement and everyone’s least favorite Avenger, Jeremy Renner, and a Bond Girl Lea Seydoux), even if some of them show up for only a short moment (Ving Rhames!) and it does bring some two solid hours of fun, even if you won’t remember much of it later. Actually, consider it a bonus: fun yet forgettable movies may be easier to re-watch than boring ones.
Speaking of which, let’s see if my memory serves right about the next one in the series…
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015), dir. Christopher McQuarrie
Finally, to end up the Mission: Retrospective, a time came to revisit the predecessor to the exquisite last installment. With the amounts of fun brought to me by the last part and by revisiting parts 3 and 4 I sat to watch Rogue Nation with a fresh hope, against my memories of this movie from the one time I saw it in cinema these three years ago. “Maybe I had a bad day?” I thought. “Maybe from some new perspective I’ll see what I failed to see in it then? If Fallout is so great and it continues the threads from this one, it can’t be that bad, right?”
Well, I’m sorry to say, but no. Three years later and it’s still one huge pile of meh. It starts with an earthquake of entertaining action with impressive Tom Cruise stunts and the whole team present (we have Pegg, Rhames and Renner), but then – contrary to that famous Alfred Hitchcock rule – the tension just falls flat and never picks up. Sure, there are several more action scenes, but none of them actually grabbed my attention or – what I mentioned several times already – made me invested in the outcome. And between them, I’m sorry to say, but the movie is just plain dull. I was actively yawning for the most of it and just waiting for it to end.
The villain was bland, the plot was uninteresting (it was two days ago and already I can’t remember if it was all about nuclear codes or a list of agents…), the twists were predictable (the “surprise” of who is who in the final intrigue with the Prime Minister was obvious) and Rebecca Fergusson will have to wait for another movie to become this badass female spy on her own, because here she’s sadly introduced as a typical Bond girl.
The only good thing that can be said about Rogue Nation is that it has a badass sequel. Fortunately, it can be watched without wasting time on this.