Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation–Old Team Reunited

Ethan Hunt has never needed the other members of the IMF  more than he does in “Rogue Nation” – and despite the appearance that the force is done, they all come together, unpredictably as ever, to take on The Syndicate as only the IMF can.  The result is that Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames had a chance to take their characters more than a few bounds forward.

“I love the dynamics between Jeremy, Simon and Ving on this film as you see the IMF team come under pressure and almost fracture,” says Tom Cruise. “It looks like the IMF is about to split apart and the whole story is going to blow up basically – and that’s integral to a Mission movie.”

As Luther Stickell — the computer expert who first appeared in the original “Mission: Impossible” directed by Brian De Palma – and William Brandt – the IMF agent assigned to guard Ethan Hunt in “Ghost Protocol” — team up to track Ethan, it was a blast for the filmmakers to watch Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames riffing off each other.

Says producer Don Granger: “20 years after he first took on the role, Ving just fits on Luther like a glove. He’s the elder statesman of the IMF.  Luther has known Ethan the longest, and in a way, Ving has known Tom the longest. So they bring an intimacy and warmth that transfers to the screen.  Jeremy, on the other hand, is sort of this live-wire counterpoint to the other characters, while Simon pinballs between all of them.  It’s so much fun to watch them all together.”

Christopher McQuarrie was thrilled to give the returning cast more screen-time than ever.  “We really wanted to get to the ‘Best of the IMF’ in this film. What’s fantastic for me as a director is that each of these actors brings their own special quality and my job was simply to find everyone’s individual rhythms and synch them together,” he explains.  “And of course throughout it all, Tom was the anchor.  He’s so deep into this world, everyone looks to him for inspiration and wants to play at his level.  The real upside of having Tom and Jeremy and Simon and Ving, who are so well-versed in this universe, that you start with a very strong grounding – which allows you to then take things in exciting new directions.”

David Ellison says it was thrilling to see the best and the brightest of the IMF united.  “This movie really has an Avengers-style team quality — you get the feeling that ‘the boys are back’ when they’re all on-screen together.”

Cruise could not have been more exhilarated to reunite with Pegg, who always brings out the comedy that contrasts perfectly with Ethan Hunt’s unceasing intensity.  “Everyday I had so much fun with him. Every single day we laughed and still we were able to focus, work hard and find that live chemistry that McQuarrie and I wanted. In the car sequence, Simon had to totally trust me.  I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to tell him how dangerous this really is,’” Cruise recalls.  “So I’m driving high speed, drifting into very narrow allies, slamming up against the wall at times, really trying to push it to the edge while he was cracking me up with his performance!”

Says Abrams: “I was excited to see the dynamic between Tom and Simon in ‘Rogue Nation’ taken even further than it was in ‘Ghost Protocol.’ In this film, Simon gets to do quite a bit of action with Tom.  It was great to see him used in that way and I think Simon killed it.”

Adds Ellison:  “Simon is hilarious but he also brings in a phenomenal new incarnation of Benji from the one we first met.  He used to be the guy behind a desk but now he’s officially out in the field as a full-fledged agent. When you see him willing to risk his life for Ethan out of true friendship, it feels incredibly authentic.”

Says Jake Myers of Pegg in “Rogue Nation”:  “He brings a comic angle of course, but he also brings a dramatic angle that plays really well off Tom. His character continues to develop.  As we start the film, he’s working in a CIA data processing center and not being challenged – but he misses the field and the draw of his old friend brings him right back into the action in his own inimitable way.”

Pegg admits that he could hardly wait to head off on another “Mission: Impossible.”  “When you get that call that they’re doing another one, it’s always exciting,” he explains.  “Then you wait for the script, hoping your character doesn’t  die!”

Benji has had his scrapes, but he’s come a long way from his first encounters with Ethan Hunt in “Mission Impossible: III” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”  Explains Pegg:  “Benji’s been out in the field for a while now so he’s gotten a little bit more mature; a little more experienced, but … he’s no less Benji!  He has new skills, but Benji always will have this wild, wide-eyed appreciation of what he does and the world he moves around in. Still, ‘Rogue Nation’ finds him in a serious dilemma. He’s in limbo because the IMF is being dissolved and absorbed by the CIA.  So now Benji is stuck behind a desk. Brandt is also back to being a mere analyst. It’s kind of all gone to hell really!”

Things have changed, and Benji’s relationship with Ethan is also up in the air as “Rogue Nation” kicks off. “I’ve always thought that Benji was Ethan’s biggest fan — and they’ve experienced genuine peril together, so Benji has extraordinary affection for Ethan.  So that only makes it more interesting to see that Benji has apparently rejected him at the beginning of the movie,” he demurs.

One thing that hasn’t altered, says Pegg, is the appeal of the “Mission” premise – that there are people willing to attempt the impossible to keep the rest of us safe.  “Here we are 20 years later and we’re still out there saving the world – so this story obviously has still got a lot to give,” he reflects.  “The world has changed and the missions have grown more complex, but there are still a lot of bad guys out there who should be stopped and I think ‘Mission: Impossible’ is a wish fulfillment in that respect.  There’s seriousness to that idea, but at the same time, we play with it with such a sense of adventure and fun that you can’t help but be swept up in that.”

That might be more the case in “Rogue Nation.”   “What I love about this one is that it’s a story about friendship, loyalty and trust – all wrapped up in the most exciting chases and explosions and fights,” Pegg summarizes.  “The tension keeps rising, but amid all the craziness, ‘Rogue Nation’ is about a group of friends helping each other get out of trouble.”

Perhaps the greatest pleasure of rejoining “Mission: Impossible” for Pegg was getting to dive back into his inimitably playful repartee with Cruise.  “I think my real-life relationship with Tom is quite similar to the one between Benji and Ethan,” he laughs.  “Of course there’s the Tom Cruise who is Ethan Hunt and then there’s the real Tom Cruise who is slightly different.  But I really love working with Tom. He has amazing focus and a peerless dedication to what he does, which raises everyone’s game on set.  Yet, he’s also a lot of fun, and it doesn’t take a lot to get him messing around.”

Pegg shares:  “We had an absolute hoot in Morocco during the car chase. We were in that car for days on end, so we ended up having a battle in terms of who could sneak the other one’s seat heater on – which is highly annoying in the heat of Morocco.  You’d think, ‘Why am I sweating?’ And then you’d realize that Tom Cruise has turned on your seat heater!  So we did get silly, but Tom also knows when it’s time to be serious and buckle down, and then there’s no stopping him.”