Allow me to examine the myriad of parallels between two 2015 spy movies, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Spectre (or should it be SPECTRE? It’s an acronym, after all):
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) = James Bond (Daniel Craig). This is the protagonist, the reckless spy who will stop at nothing to catch the dastardly terrorist behind the convoluted plot. The primary difference between Hunt and Bond? Hunt feels approachable, even relatable, relying entirely on good luck and reckless ambition. Bond feels surreal in his confidence and capabilities; there is literally nothing he can’t or won’t do. Daniel Craig’s portrayal explored the emotional motivations behind the stoic spy, but Spectre doesn’t have the same pathos as previous installments, including the mediocre Quantum of Solace.
Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) = Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). This is the capable-yet-delicate heroine who has a complicated past, and just wants to find freedom from those ghosts. Or…spectres?! (Note: Seydoux was a femme fatale in the last M:I, Ghost Protocol.)
Benji (Simon Pegg) = Q (Ben Whishaw). This is the British tech guy who can do anything with computers and provides sporadic comedy relief.
Brandt (Jeremy Renner) = M (Ralph Fiennes). This is the serious spy who is always talking about The Rules and trying to keep the protagonist in check.
Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) = Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). This is the black sidekick who has the devoted trust of the protagonist; they’re practically BFFs, but they never sleep together. It’s sad that African-American actors are relegated to sidekick roles in these films; casting Idris Elba, David Oyelowo, or Chiwetel Ejiofor as the next James Bond would be fantastic.
Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) = Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). This is the criminal mastermind behind it all who leads an enigmatic terrorist conglomerate whose name starts with “S.” There will be multiple scenes with this villain sharing their Master Plan to the protagonist, who will ultimately save the day by capturing—NOT killing—the bad guy. Their schemes are strikingly similar too: infiltrate the government agencies and use private information for their own terrorist gain. (Note: this is not a spoiler to name Waltz’s character as Blofeld. Bond fans knew it all along, and this recent filmic phenomenon of having a big “reveal” of the bad guy is tiring. Even IMDB doesn’t care about Blofeld’s “secret” identity.)
Atlee (Simon McBurney) = C (Andrew Scott). This is the government agent who is really a bad guy, which is no surprise to anyone as soon as they are introduced. When Moriarty from Sherlock is cast on the good guys’ side, we can be confident he’s a double agent.
Janik Vinter (Jens Hulten) = Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista). This is the hulking henchman who grunts, smirks, and can take a punch. Bautista is sadly underutilized in this Bond film; his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy was noteworthy and charming, but here he’s all muscle and no charisma. (Note: Hulten was a bad guy in the last Bond movie, Skyfall.)
Lauren (Jingchu Zhang) = Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci). These are the attractive female characters who are given about 3 minutes of screen time and never seen again. Bellucci’s near-cameo is a tragedy, as she’s a phenomenal actress who is essentially used as eye-candy in one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the film.
Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) = Tanner (Rory Kinnear). I’m still unsure if the parallel here should be Brandt:Tanner and Hunley:M, as the former is the special agent who is still part of the organization while the latter is the spy head honcho. Still, their roles within each film makes this parallel make more sense to me, as Hunley and Tanner are mere tertiary characters (though Baldwin’s lines about Hunt are hilarious).
Exhilarating opening sequence featuring crazy stunts and flying vehicles? Check. Elaborate car chase through exotic location with comedic elements, featuring very expensive cars? Check. Hero and villain glaring at each other through bullet-proof glass, resulting in protagonist getting really upset? Check. Explosions, guns, and fist fights? Check, check, and check.
The major difference between the two films? M:I-Rogue Nation didn’t take itself too seriously and was loads of fun. Spectre…well…there was that ginormous explosion, remember? And that opening song? *Sigh.*
Let’s just go watch those Bourne movies again.
IMDB Listing: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/