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We’ve been extremely lucky this summer, as 2015 has had some of the best box office offerings we’ve come across in a good couple of years. Yet amidst the dinosaurs, the fast cars, superheroes, and even the vicious water wars, there’s one film that stands out from the pack. The unlikely champion of summer 2015, in our book at least, is Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
Why are we crowning a film we just saw released last week as the end-all, be-all blockbuster of this year’s summer box office? We’re glad you asked, because we have six reasons that will self-destruct unless you read them right away!
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. If you haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, you may want to click away to another one of our wonderful articles.
6. Ilsa Is The Strongest Female Ass Kicker Since FuriosaRebecca Ferguson might be a relative newcomer to the film world, as well as the Mission: Impossible franchise, but don’t let that fool you. Her performance under Christopher McQuarrie’s tight direction, and even tighter scripting, is something to behold. At points vulnerable, mysterious, and dangerous, isn’t just a badass babe, or in any way a trope. When she pleas for Ethan to run away with her, it isn’t out of lust… it’s out of insecurity and hope that another spy in the cold can find solace. This, on top of some serious action chops and a revolving door of objectives that leads to her eventual peace, kept us in the audience guessing and it’ll have us keeping an eye out for her next move.
5. The Story Is BrilliantAs the man behind Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Christopher McQuarrie is now the fifth filmmaker to helm a chapter of the franchise. This is only his third film directing, yet it doesn’t show in the execution. This is only supported by the fact that he also co-wrote the story and scripted the screenplay for the film, which is wound tight like a rubber band gun just waiting to go off. While we’ve seen our fair share of mask rips, double crosses, and doves flying through gun battles in the Mission: Impossible series, McQuarrie zigs away from all of the traditional zags.
4. There’s Classic Film Homages, And A Cold War-esque ToneIf the Vienna Opera House sequence in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, where an assassin is instructed to pull the trigger while a specific note is being sung, it’s probably because you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan and remember a similar tactic from The Man Who Knew Too Much. The influence of classic films in Christopher McQuarrie’s latest is pretty impossible to ignore, as this blockbuster feels more reflective of Cold War spy thrillers that relied more on tradecraft than technology (though, of course gadgets do play a key role). By the time the final sequence in London is playing out, you’ll find yourself so wrapped in the action that you’ll only later realize that a specific shot that looks very similar to one from Carol Reed’s The Third Man was snuck into the lot.
3. The Set Pieces Are Among The Best Of The Summer, If Not The YearWhen you open your movie with a man actually hanging off of the side of an Airbus A400, you’ve either blown your money shot or you’re cocky enough to promise bigger thrills. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation not only falls into the latter category, but delivers on those promises it makes numerous times over. In the air, on the roof, underwater and beneath the streets of London, the film deploys exciting moment after moment with precision and pacing. With more than enough story to sustain the picture between these huge moments, the set pieces are built into the film’s framework perfectly without seeming gratuitous.
2. The Perfect Balance Between Humor And ThrillsAs much as action-packed stunts are the centerpiece of the Mission: Impossible franchise, the funnier moments in the series (especially in the latter half) are equally important distancing the titles from similar features. While the James Bond franchise has wry, innuendo-laced humor all throughout, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the latest installment to showcase the series’ humor and manages to draw attention to how "impossible" the missions on which Ethan and his crew embark. And the best part is, everyone gets in on the comedic fun in the new movie. If we did have to pick a comedic MVP of the team, though, we’d go with the obvious choice of Simon Pegg, seeing as the Torus briefing scene alone clinches the title.
1. The Knife Fight / The Low Key FinaleMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has comedy to spare; a story and characters to keep things moving; and a hell of a lot of action pushing the film to that spot where a big kick-ass ending would go. And what does Christopher McQuarrie do with the finale to his entry into the canon? He scales it down to a personal, pretty damned claustrophobic finale that includes a knife fight between Ilsa and one of Solomon Lane’s lackeys. While the gunfight where Ethan turns himself into a human shield is, indeed, badass, it’s the close quarters blade battle that really helps sell the final moments of the film. By time Tom Cruise gets to the big "Meet the IMF" punch line to Solomon Lane’s eventual defeat, it’s hard not to smile at how this film puts a button on its running time.