Film / Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

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"Ethan Hunt is a gambler. And one day his luck will run out, and thousands of innocent people will pay the price."
Ethan: The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do.
Benji: An anti-IMF.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the fifth film in the Mission: Impossible Film Series, directed and written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Edge of Tomorrow) from a story by McQuarrie and Drew Pearce.

Following the near-disaster from the end of the last movie, CIA director Alan Hunley (Baldwin) convinces the US Senate that the IMF is a threat to public safety, forcing the IMF to disband and branding former IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) as having gone rogue. Now alone and with the CIA on his tail, Hunt must embark on a global quest to prove the existence of, and ultimately stop, an organisation of assassins and criminals known only as The Syndicate.

Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames reprise their roles from the previous films. Newcomers include Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation provides examples of:

  • Accidental Truth: Hunley attempts to warn the Prime Minister what a potential threat Ethan Hunt is by playing up his abilities, even suggesting that Hunt has probably anticipated them having that exact discussion. Ethan is standing in the room with them having set Hunley up to be there at that time.
  • Action Girl: Ilsa Faust may very well be the single most badass female character in franchise to date, matching Ethan in One-Man Army capabilities.
  • Affably Evil: Solomon Lane, to Ilsa Faust only. He gives her several chances to prove her worth, and in all their conversations Lane is fairly polite and reasonable with her.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Syndicate were originally just the name the show chose to give to the mafia and as such, they were just generic mobsters who had no clue the IMF even existed. Here though they have been elevated to an international Nebulous Evil Organization like SPECTRE who not only are fully aware that the IMF exist (and worse, whose own existence is denied by the CIA amongst others), they are fully a match for them, are able to anticipate their every move, and even are the ones who give Hunt his "Your mission, should you choose to accept it" brief at the start of the film.
  • Antagonist Title: "Rogue Nation" refers to the film's antagonists, the Syndicate. And it also refers to the fact that the head of MI-6 defied orders and went rogue to ensure such an organization did exist.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ilsa Faust and Janik Vinter apparently speak Swedish as their mother tongue, just like the actors. Ilsa Faust is however a German name, and Janik is Polish; Vinter (meaning "winter") is the only Swedish name of these two people.
  • At the Opera Tonight: A big chunk of the second act of the movie takes place during a performance of Turandot at the Vienna Opera.
  • Bad Boss:
    • In contrast to CIA Director Hunley (who's shown to be more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat for a good deal of the movie), Attlee is this, given that he seems to treat his subordinates in British intelligence as disposable tools. Not to mention being the reason behind The Syndicate's existence in the first place.
    • Solomon Lane shoots one of his own Mooks just because Ilsa was able to take his gun from him. It's debatable whether his treatment of Ilsa herself counts since it's implied that he knew she was The Mole all along.
  • Badass Boast: Ethan in the climax, combined with Tranquil Fury.
    Ethan: You want your money? The Bone Doctor's gonna have to beat it out of me! Now Let. Benji. Go.
  • Badass in Distress: Ethan gets taken hostage by Syndicate members at one point.
  • Batman Gambit: Employed on both sides.
    • Lane keeps Hunt alive after murdering an IMF agent in front of him, because he knows that Hunt will make it personal, allowing Lane to manipulate him into doing what he wants as long as it gives him even the slightest chance to take Lane down.
    • Hunt knows that Lane wants the vast funds in the data drive so badly that he won't risk losing it when Hunt reveals that he's the only person in the world who can possibly give him access to the money. Lane's desire to capture Hunt and get the money allows Hunt to manipulate and bait Lane into the trap the IMF set up for him.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Solomon Lane and Attlee. The former is a rogue MI6 agent who's gone completely off the grid and took over an unsanctioned branch the agency and plans to secure funds from the prime minster as a means of expanding The Syndicate. The latter, meanwhile is responsible for creating it in the first place and is ruthless in his ways of trying to contain his mess.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Hunt and Dunn infiltrate a high-society performance of Turandot to try and foil the Syndicate's assassination of the Chancellor of Austria at the same event. They foil the three snipers by killing one and then Hunt shoots the chancellor himself non-fatally, but the Syndicate plants a bomb in the Chancellor's limo and blows him up on his way to the hospital.
  • Blofeld Ploy: After the Opera house, Ilsa is confronted by Lane. She throws her gun at him and tells him he can either trust her or kill her. Lane takes her gun... and shoots a mook standing behind her.
  • Book Ends:
    • One of the first scenes has Ethan being knocked out by gas in London. The final battle takes place in London, and Ethan defeats Lane by gassing him.
    • Early in the movie, Hunley and Brandt face off with the Committee over the future of the IMF, with Hunley convincing the Committee to mothball the organization. In the last scene of the movie, Hunley and Brandt face the Committee together and convince them to have the IMF reinstated. In both meetings, Brandt repeats the phrase "I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation without the permission of the Secretary."
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: After taking Benji hostage, Solomon Lane gives Ethan his ransom demand, starting with the phrase "Your mission, should you choose to accept it..."
  • Brick Joke: During the Committee hearing near the beginning of the movie it is mentioned that the position of Secretary in charge of the IMF is vacant. In the final scene of the movie Director Hunley has been appointed to the position.
  • Bullets Do Not Work That Way: When bullets hit something they cannot penetrate, such as bullet-resistant glass, they still have to bounce somewhere or drop on the ground, right? Apparently they just disappear in the climax, as Lane is trapped in the glass box.
  • Call Back:
  • Car Fu:
    • Ethan takes out several Syndicate members with his BMW M3 and S1000 RR.
    • Then there's Brandt and Luther's Big Damn Heroes moment: One of the motorcycle mooks is stalking towards Ethan, trapped in an overturned car... and then their 4x4 comes out of nowhere and sends him flying.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the planning of the Morocco mission, Benji suggests the use of the IMF's face-mask technology, only for Ilsa to explain that it's not sufficient for the task at hand. In the process, the audience is given the information it needs to keep up when another mission, later in the movie, turns out to have the face-mask technology as a key part of the Unspoken Plan.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Minor example. The mission in Morocco requires a long, no-scuba dive inside the underwater data bank, so Ilsa has been practicing holding her breath in her swimming pool when Ethan and Benji arrive. Then Ethan does the diving instead while Ilsa supports him because she can't hold her breath long enough. But when Ethan cannot get to the maintenance hatch in time and runs out of air, Ilsa dives in to rescue him and escape through the hatch before he drowns. Minor, because the skill is introduced a mere 15-20 minutes before it is needed, but still an example because it's never flat-out stated why she was training (even though it's easy to deduce).
    • Ilsa's go-to technique of leaping onto an opponent and spinning around his neck (as prominently shown in many trailers and promos) comes in handy during her climactic knife fight.
  • The Chessmaster: No less than three of them are involved in a game against each other:
    • Solomon Lane is the leader of the Syndicate. His mistake is continually manipulating both Ilsa and Ethan, and so when Lane is Out-Gambitted, they immediately team up to defeat him.
    • Attlee is no slouch himself, forcing his agent Ilsa into a Morton's Fork to either keep her invested in a dangerous long term plan taking down the Syndicate slowly and securely or get killed keeping his secret part in the Syndicate's creation. But he's ultimately at fault for the Syndicate's formation and gets taken out by Hunt pretty quickly after Hunt identifies him.
    • And of course, Hunt himself. He tends to use the Kansas City Shuffle, Indy Ploy, and Batman Gambit and while Lane succeeds in manipulating him and Ilsa early on, he successfully removes Attlee with some Latex Perfection to manipulate the Prime Minister into revealing the Syndicate to the CIA, and becomes a Living MacGuffin to enact some karmic justice on Lane while helping Ilsa pull her final Heel–Face Turn.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: It's initially set up to give the impression that the CIA are the antagonists alongside The Syndicate. Except that it's British intelligence under Attlee who turn out to be far more sinister than the CIA, who're unaware that The Syndicate even exists.
  • Complexity Addiction: Solomon Lane in spades (and to a lesser extent perhaps, Ilsa Faust and Chief Attlee. He goes to ridiculous lengths to manipulate Ethan Hunt and all of his plans are highly convoluted, though with a reasonable amount of justification. In the end, its this trope that gets him caught- he just had to keep manipulating Ethan and Ilsa which gives the former enough time and reason to come up with a plan of his own to beat him.
  • Consummate Liar: Benji is subject to weekly lie detector tests and flawlessly passes every one while outright lying about Ethan's activities.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Director Hunley starts enumerating the crazy stunts the IMF has pulled that merit shutting it down, he brings up the time they broke into the CIA to steal a list of all its agents, and the time one of their missions resulted in half the Kremlin getting blown up and a nuclear missile knocking off a small chunk from the Transamerica Pyramid's spire.
    • Benji is once again enthused at the prospect of wearing a mask.
    • The Secretary's position is still vacant after the previous secretary was killed in the last movie.
  • Cool Plane: The big matte grey Airbus A-400-M transporter shows that turboprops can be cool too.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Syndicate wants the Austrian chancellor dead, and they make sure it will happen. On top of a sniper sent there to do the job, there's two backup snipers and a car bomb just to make sure the guy dies.
  • Cut Apart: During the CIA's hunt for Hunt, shots of him moving around his apartment are intercut with shots of CIA agents sneaking into position. The scene implies that Hunt and his pursuers are separated only by a closed door, before revealing that he was in Paris while they were in a separate building in Havana.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Brandt and Luther have less screentime and plot importance than the previous film. Conversely Benji is more prominent. In Luther's case, he has more screentime than in Ghost Protocol (where he only shows up as The Cameo at the very end), but still considerably less than his appearances in the first three films.
    • While Brandt and Benji had some chances to kick some butt in action scenes in the previous films, Hunt is the only IMF agent involved in any fighting this time round. (Of course, he's got Faust at his side, so he makes it out okay.)
  • Disposable Woman: The female IMF agent Lane kills at the beginning of the movie.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Solomon Lane in a nutshell really.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: When Ilsa asks her MI6 boss if he wants her to kill Ethan, he assures her that he doesn't. What he does want her to do is to return to Lane, who almost certainly will order her to kill Ethan, and obey that order to the fullest.
  • The Dragon: Janik "The Bone Doctor" Vinter, who is the most prominent of Lane's henchmen and apparently takes joy in torture.
  • Dwindling Party: The IMF is shut down by the Senate early in the movie, leaving Ethan as the only agent in the field continuing the hunt for The Syndicate. Reversed over the course of the film as Ethan slowly recruits former allies and even persuades CIA Director Hunley to his cause.
  • Engineered Public Confession: When it seems like Brandt has betrayed Ethan's team to the CIA, in reality he's working with him to clear his name and proceed with their objective by luring Attlee, the person behind the creation of The Syndicate, into a meeting with the British Prime Minister and CIA Director Hunley, then uses the truth serum on him and forces him to confess his crimes.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: In this movie's case, it's a motorcycle that bursts into flames upon crashing against the railing.
  • Evil Brit: Solomon Lane and Attlee. Given that the former was a British agent tasked with running The Syndicate before going rogue. While the latter conceived it as an attempt to guarantee British interests, and isn't afraid to dispose of agents or do things even the CIA disapproves of.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Syndicate is a criminal version of the heroic IMF.
  • Evil Wears Black:
    • Solomon Lane spends much of the movie in black, as does The Bone Doctor. While more of an Anti-Villain, Ilsa also sports black several times in the movie. In fact, pretty much his entire organisation seems to have a black dress code.
    • The motorcycle chase in Morocco sees The Syndicate mooks wear all-black suits with black helmet visors. The Wild Card Ilsa also wears an all-black suit but with clear-visor helmet, reflecting her still-conflicting loyalties, while the heroic Ethan ditches the black suit and helmet altogether.
  • Exact Words:
    • Ilsa uses this to justify why she let Hunt escape the first time (Lane wanted him alive and the Bone Doctor would likely have killed him).
    • "This time I won't be in a glass box."
  • Face Palm: In the opening sequence, Benji gets into a verbal argument with Luther, who insists that he wants to help the team while he's all the way in Malaysia. Brandt, who is listening to their bickering, face-palms in response.
  • Facial Dialogue: Used extensively.
  • Famed In-Story: Ethan's exploits over the decades have made him a Living Legend in the intelligence community, to the point that low level agents will break cover to Squee! about it.
  • Fanservice:
    • Ilsa during her time in the Vienna Opera in a yellow dress which leaves very little to the imagination.
    • Ilsa's walk from the pool in only her (very) little black bikini. A little bit justified because she was in the pool practicing holding her breath underwater.
    • Has a Toplessness from the Back scene as she changes to a new outfit in Morocco with a glance of a side boob.
    • We also get shirtless Ethan - again - plus Benji and Ethan dressed up nicely for the opera.
  • Foil: The Syndicate to IMF down to being founded by the government. More specifically, Ilsa to Ethan, with one critical difference; she's got less friends.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Similar to the one in the previous movie, Lane is visible in a Vinyl Offer listening booth when the shop clerk tells Ethan that they're closing, evidently preparing the beginning of his operation.
  • Gambit Pileup: Hooo, boy. Where to begin? Let's just say that almost everyone in this film is being played by someone else one way or another. It's a never-ending Xanatos Speed Chess game from start to finish between Hunley's CIA, Ethan's IMF, Lane's The Syndicate, Attlee and Ilsa's MI-6.
  • Gambit Roulette: Solomon Lane captured Ethan Hunt and handed him over to Ilsa Faust knowing full well that she was likely The Mole sent by MI6 to bring him down. He anticipated that she would help Hunt escape and would be forced to do anything he told her to try and win her "trust" back, and he needed this because only Ethan Hunt was able to get the data file he needed. He further knew that neither Faust nor Hunt would go after the data file unless they thought it was information that could bring The Syndicate down, meaning they were doing his dirty work all along. Unfortunately, both Attlee and Hunt play a mean game of this themselves.
  • Giant Mook: Ethan goes in to tackle the assassin at the opera, who turns out to be a giant of a man.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Hunley: Set your watch, Brandt. Ethan Hunt is living his last day as a free man.
    Title card: Six Months Later
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Lane deliberately antagonized Hunt because he knew he could use Hunt's desire for revenge to manipulate him into retrieving the information Lane was after. Problem is, that requires Hunt to be Out-Gambitted, and that's a tall order.
    • The Syndicate, in addition to being a mirror-image of the IMF, was created as a completely unaccountable and secretive network by MI-6. Even after going rogue and without the funds to sustain the organization for decades to come, it more than meets Attlee's expectations.
  • Go Through Me: In the final fight, Lane orders Ilsa dead and Ethan brought in alive. Ethan takes advantage of this to use himself as a Human Shield while he and Ilsa fire back.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Chief Attlee of the MI-6, who created the Syndicate against the British Prime Minister's wishes and is now trying to cover up his role in its creation after Lane went rogue and took control of the Syndicate to perform terrorist attacks.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Ilsa Faust switches sides without warning occasionally throughout the movie in order to keep Lane's trust, and she will do anything she could to maintain her cover, even if it means betraying Ethan's team.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Director Hunley goes from being an antagonist to ally when the existence of The Syndicate is confirmed.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted most of the time. The characters are constantly having problems hacking complex systems. Ilsa only manages to hack the water gates for a short time before the engineers discover this and locks down the system, preventing her from hacking further. Even a master hacker like Luther cannot hack the Red Box info ledger that could only be open by the British Prime Minister himself. Luther also played this straight when he looks for Ilsa's location through the CIA's surveillance, something Brandt thought is a difficult job to pull off. He even lampshades this trope:
    Luther: (regarding hacking into the CIA surveillance system) For mere mortals, no. But for me, I could've done this at home.
  • Hope Spot: Ethan saves the Austrian chancellor with a non-fatal gunshot wound just for the latter's car to get blown up on the drive to the hospital.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Lane abducts Benji and puts him with a time bomb strapped to him at a public place, leaving Ethan and the rest of the team time until midnight to hand him the unlocked disk.
  • Human Shield: At the climax of the film, knowing that Lane needs him alive Ethan makes himself the shield between Lane's men and Ilsa, shielding her while she stands behind him picking them off until they get the room to make a break for it.
  • Imagine Spot: We see just how "well" a penetration of the secure computer facility would go if the gait detector is not hacked.
  • I Meant to Do That: Played for Laughs at the end of the movie. Hunley has to pass off his attempt to close down the IMF as part of an elaborate Gambit Roulette to bring down The Syndicate, when in reality for most of the film he didn't believe The Syndicate even existed.
  • Informed Ability: The Syndicate is supposed to be made of former special agents from various countries. In the movie, however, only a handful can give Ethan and co. 'some' sort of trouble, and the rest drop like flies.
  • Inspector Javert: Hunley is this toward Ethan Hunt, whom he believes to be a rogue agent (which is technically correct) chasing a phantom (which is not correct). He ends his pursuit after learning the truth about the Syndicate.
  • Instrument of Murder: One of the assassins at the opera brings a rifle disguised as a bass flute. Ethan uses it to shoot the chancellor in the shoulder so the other snipers can't hit him.
  • Ironic Echo: "I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation without the permission of the Secretary."
  • It's Personal:
    • Deliberately invoked by Lane, who knows that killing the rookie female agent in front of Hunt will make it personal, allowing Lane to manipulate him into doing what he wants as long as it gives him even the slightest chance to take Lane down. Remember that in Mission: Impossible III, Ethan saw both his protege and a woman disguised as his "wife" killed in front of him.
    • Ethan Hunt being forced to witness the young lady IMF agent's murder by Solomon Lane makes his mission to stop The Syndicate personal enough, but it wasn't until Benji is kidnapped that he pulls out all stops and do everything to bring Lane down, up to and including using the truth serum on the British Prime Minister and the head of MI-6, potentially risking a war between the United States and United Kingdom.
  • I Am the Noun: Ethan says this to Lane after having destroyed the data before the final battle:
    Lane: Where is the disc?
    Ethan: You're looking at it. I am the disc.
  • I Want Them Alive: Lane to Hunt at the end, after Hunt turns himself into a Living MacGuffin. Also in reverse, given how they capture him, the first time the Big Bad has been captured instead of killed in this franchise.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When explaining why he wants to shut down the IMF, Director Hunley brings up the massive amounts of collateral damage that their missions cause and the insanely risky gambles Hunt takes to pull off his missions.
    • His mention that their victories seem more like luck than anything else rings close to the truth - consider the fourth film, where Hunt and his team did provide the villain valid launch codes as Hunley points out, the nuke was only disarmed after its control console falling down several stories just happened to fail to break it enough to render it inoperable as the villain intended, and Ethan happened to survive the same fall without sustaining any injury that prevented him from canceling the detonation (say a broken back?) - all of this within seconds of the detonation itself.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Benji while at the opera, doing computer work:
    Benji: Join the IMF, see the world! On a monitor. In a closet...
  • Just in Time: The bomb strapped to Benji is deactivated less than a fifth of a second before exploding.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Coupled with Batman Gambit. Hunt utilizes his own reputation to convince Hunley that the best course of action to keep the Prime Minister safe is to keep him in that room, because if they go out there, they believe Hunt is prepared for whichever decision they make. Turns out, he was prepared for the decision to stay put, too.
  • Knife Fight: There's one between Ilsa and the Bone Doctor at the end of the movie.
  • Knife Nut: Ilsa is shown keeping a few secreted on her person.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the beginning, Lane executes an IMF agent in front of Ethan's eyes while Ethan passes out from gas. Later, Ethan traps Lane in a bulletproof cell and knocks him out with gas.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The entire ending of Ghost Protocol is discussed during the Senate's hearing with Hunley and Brandt at the beginning of the movie, while clips of said ending are replayed on a nearby TV.
  • Latex Perfection:
    • Discussed, but ultimately not used during the computer file heist due to a security precaution that would render the mask useless. Rather to Benji's disappointment — he so wanted to wear the mask.
    • Used successfully to obtain the PM's biometric and voice data, taking down Attlee in the process.
  • Literal Metaphor: Ethan promises that he will put Lane in a box, as if to imply that Lane will be either in a cell or a coffin when Ethan is finished. In fact, he actually means that he (and his team) will personally trap Lane inside of a box, into which knockout gas is pumped to subdue him for his arrest, just as Hunt had been captured at the start of the film.
  • Living MacGuffin: In the final act of the film, Benji gets kidnapped by The Syndicate, and Lane demands Ethan to hand over the ledger containing financial data that could provide The Syndicate with unlimited funding in exchange for Benji's life. Ethan instead memorizes the data and then destroys it, providing one of the accounts to Lane as proof. Ethan then makes his own offer: release Benji or he'll kill himself, thus destroying the data. Ethan lampshades how improbable it is that he could accurately memorize such a massive amount of information, but knows Lane can't take the risk that Ethan is bluffing.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The ledger that holds billion worth of funding for The Syndicate is this for Lane, as it will provide him with the money he needs to keep The Syndicate running for decades. As a neat twist, it turns out that the ledger is digitized and sealed in a liquid-cooled server. At the climax of the movie, Hunt reveals that he's destroyed the only remaining copy of the ledger, and claims that he has memorized all the data, turning him into a Living MacGuffin Full of Money.
  • Meaningful Background Event: When Ethan is having a conversation with a female IMF agent in London music record shop, Solomon Lane can be seen sitting inside a booth in one scene, waiting for his chance to strike.
  • Meaningful Name: Ilsa Faust, who's made a Deal with the Devil.
  • Memetic Badass: In-Universe, Ethan Hunt has been elevated to this. A low-ranking handler in London recognises him on sight and tells him that she has trouble believing all the stories about him could be true; Hunley thinks that his previous missions relied on dumb luck as much as skill because he has trouble believing anyone could be that good; Benji volunteers him for an insane underwater stunt that very nearly kills him because he honestly believes Ethan is just that badass that it would be no problem for him, and it gets to the point that the villain actually constructed his entire Evil Plan on the premise that only Ethan Hunt has the skills to steal the information he needs (whilst simultaneously knowing that just forcing him to do it probably would not work). It's Played for Laughs that Hunt himself is sort of uneasy with all this attention and expectation.
    Alan Hunley: Hunt is uniquely trained and highly motivated - a specialist without equal - immune to any countermeasures. There is no secret he cannot extract, no security he cannot breach, no person he cannot become. He has most likely anticipated this very conversation and is waiting to strike in whatever direction we move. Sir, Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny - and he has made you his mission. note 
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ilsa, but never to Distracted by the Sexy levels.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Surprisingly averted in this film. The closest it has is when Ethan and Ilsa use a rope to drop from the roof of the opera house in Vienna, and the almost broken pipe that Ethan used to tie the rope promptly falls down afterwards.
  • Mouth of Sauron: In the climax, Benji is turned into this for Lane against his will, relaying messages and orders from Lane to Ethan.
  • Musical Nod: This film uses brief snippets of music from the original TV show as cues for when the IMF are working.
  • Musical Trigger: Ilsa tries to use one during the assassination attempt against the Austrian chancellor.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Receiving the mission briefing via record is something that was last seen in the pilot of the original show. The sign/countersign exchange is even a more elaborate version of the one from that episode.
    • "The Syndicate" was the name of a generic organized crime network that the IMF went up against regularly in the original series, starting halfway through the first season and increasing in importance until they became the go-to villain of virtually every episode of the last two seasons.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Syndicate, a secret evil spy organization that seems to have its hands in assassinations and other criminal enterprises all over the globe.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: The Syndicate, a multi-national criminal organization that's so powerful it's described as a "Rogue Nation." Subverted, however, in that its actual capabilities are shown to still be limited. In fact, Lane's main goal is to secure the resources necessary for The Syndicate to fund its operations for decades to come, thus becoming this. And if the gambit regarding transferring the funds fail, they will be unleashing a "terrorist superpower."
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Despite the hints, there is no romance between Ethan and Ilsa, although they do get to share a single goodbye hug at the end.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Invoked by Ethan when he memorizes the disk. Unless Lane agrees to his demands, he'll kill himself (via Ilsa) just to spite Lane, so Lane has to come out of hiding if he wants the data.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Downplayed. Solomon Lane is the only villain in the series that doesn't engage in hand-to-hand combat with Ethan. Nonetheless, he usually makes an effort to be on-site whenever an Evil Plan is being carried out, even if his minions are doing the actual work, just to make sure everything goes according to plan. He is also a decent shot and sometimes carries out murders on his own. In the finale, he chases Ethan down Terminator-style, only to find he was lured into a trap and is captured.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Ilsa Faust fulfills all of the criteria for a sexy, mysterious spy who the hero falls for, except for that last bit. On her part, she gives Ethan a heck of a lot of glowing, tender looks, tells him they can run away together, and gives him a very close hug at the end.
  • Not So Different:
    • Ilsa and Hunt, as she points out when she suggests they both simply abandon their missions and disappear.
    • Lane attempts to pull this on Hunt as well, but he doesn't buy it.
  • Obstacle Exposition: The briefing for the Morocco mission.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Director Hunley, the head of the CIA, who is looking to shut the IMF down while they're trying to stop the Syndicate. Though he's eventually revealed to be a Reasonable Authority Figure once he learns of the truth.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Syndicate is revealed to be such, seemingly only having a few dozen operatives at most despite the trailers and most of the movie presenting it as a major global organization.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ethan affixes a rope to a flagpole at the top of a building to effect his and Ilsa's escape — only to have it groan and shift as soon as any weight is applied to it. They don't have much choice though.
    • At one point Ethan is dispatching mooks with a pistol which runs out of ammo, and he gives it an "Oh crap" look.
  • The Oner: Played with during the Morocco mission. Ethan trying to swap the chips is done as three separate single shots. They're not particularly long compared to some examples (the longest one is just over a minute), but they take place in an enclosed space underwater with Ethan very visibly lacking any breathing apparatus.
  • Organization with Unlimited Funding: The fact that The Syndicate appears to be one of this is a plot point. All of Lane's actions in the movie are aimed at securing billions in untraceable accounts to secure The Syndicate's status as one of these for decades to come.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: Standard procedure for Mission: Impossible. However, it turns out to be a trap set up by The Syndicate to snag Ethan, and the "smoke" the message spews is actually sleeping gas that knocks him out.
  • Panty Shot: Completely averted. Ilsa does a lot of ladder-climbing and railing-hopping backstage at the opera, and while the viewers see quite a bit of her legs, a combination of editing and well-chosen camera angles keep her honor intact and her underwear unseen.
  • Percussive Maintenance: At the opera, Benji thumps the server with his fist every time his computer goes on the fritz. Unfortunately for Ethan, this also messes with the position of the stage lighting, which throws off his attempts to take down the sniper up there.
  • Playing Games At Work: Benji is briefly seen playing Halo 5: Guardians at the CIA and flipping screens when anybody important comes where they could see.
  • Police Are Useless: The only remaining American intelligence agency, the CIA, doesn't even know the Syndicate exists. MI6 knows it exists — because it's their fault.
    Director Hunley: How come the CIA has never discovered any intel regarding this "Syndicate"?
    Brandt: Do you want the polite answer? Or the truth?
  • Product Placement:
    • The military cargo plane in the prologue, rather than having any sort of national markings, has "Airbus A400M" prominently painted on its side.
    • Benji is seen playing Halo 5: Guardians on an Xbox One, with the box being shown on screen to make clear which game is being played. (And since the film came out 3 months before the game's launch, either Ethan is a pirate or MI6 agents get beta access anytime they like.)
    • Characters use products from Nokia, Dell, and Microsoft and it's quite obvious that all the devices are running Windows 10.
    • Both heroes and villains drive BMWs. Especially noticeable in the Morocco chase sequence where Ethan and an army of mooks scream down a highway on BMW motorcycles. Characters are also seen using BMW's notoriously finicky iDrive system.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart plays as Benji is playing Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Carter from Ghost Protocol isn't even mentioned in passing.
    • Ethan's wife, Julia, makes no appearance in the film after a brief cameo from the previous movie, and Luther takes Jane's place on the team, leaving Ilsa serving as the sole female protagonist of this movie.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • After their shenanigans in the previous films (Namely the whole "Clipping a building in San Francisco with an ICBM as it crashed into the bay" thing), the IMF is still being investigated, and is soon shut down.
    • Ethan runs down a narrow hallway while bad guys try to shoot him, kicking up a bunch of dramatic debris but not stopping him. Then we find he did, in fact, get wounded, though he survives.
    • Benji keeps passing the lie detector tests Hunley frequently gives him to check his loyalties. However, those tests are at best unreliable, and Hunley presumably knows a well-trained person can fool them. Like Benji.
    • The mission in Morocco is full of this. Ilsa even lampshades the impossibility of the mission before it begins. During the mission itself, Ilsa hacks the water gates control and reboots it in order to stop the strong current from obstructing Ethan. The engineers quickly notice the problem and reverse the whole process before locking it down, preventing Ilsa from hacking it further. The resuming strong water current proves to be more than even Ethan himself can handle and he promptly runs out of air. If not for Ilsa diving in to save him, Ethan would've died down there for sure. The mission really is impossible.
    • Ethan drowns and is resuscitated in Morocco and spends a good chunk of the ensuing car and motorcycle chase driving at full speed while thoroughly discombobulated and suffering from a patchy memory. Averted in that due to his resulting state of oxygen-deprived calm recklessness he is operating at 110% and makes mincemeat of all his opponents via some of the most intense stunts in the series to date.
      Benji: (watches Hunt take the driver's seat) Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you sure you wanna drive? A minute ago you were dead!'
      Hunt: (eyes unfocused and clearly out of it) What are you talking about?
      Benji: (gets in the car) This is not gonna end well.
    • During the Morocco motorcycle chase, a Syndicate mook pulls out a gun, turns to aim at Ethan, and smashes headlong into a car he didn't see coming.
  • Realpolitik: This is what Attlee uses to justify his actions including the creation of The Syndicate, arguing that countries have no friends, just common interests. CIA Director Hunley clearly didn't get the memo upon finding out, considering it incredible that America's British allies would do something like this...and unfortunately for Attlee, they didn't, since the British Prime Minister never approved it, meaning Attlee is out of a job for trying to cover it up.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The British Prime Minister who flat out refused to approve the creation of The Syndicate, and is rather upset to find out Attlee went through with it anyway.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: It's revealed that The Syndicate was originally established by MI-6, but was never given the British Prime Minister's approval.
  • Reverse Mole: Ilsa Faust was sent to infiltrate The Syndicate by MI-6.
  • Running Gag: Brandt's refusal to confirm or deny the details of any IMF operations. During both the IMF's dissolution and reinstatement hearings.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Ilsa is stuck walking a tight rope between helping Ethan and obeying Lane's orders, unable to go back to MI6 because her boss has dubbed her a rogue agent to maintain her cover. Either she obeys and commits terrorist acts, or she doesn't and either Lane kills her or she has no safe haven.
    • Lane's final gambit. Benji is kidnapped and turned into a giant claymore mine sat in the middle of a crowded cafe. If Ethan doesn't give up the disk, Benji explodes and takes a lot of innocent people with him. If he does, Ilsa then has to kill Benji and Ethan or Lane will set off the bomb and kill all of them. Ethan beats this by memorizing the disk so Lane cannot kill him without losing the data, and Ethan orders Ilsa to kill him if Lane's goons try to grab him without letting Benji go.
  • Scaramanga Special: Three are used by the Syndicate assassins at the Vienna opera. Ilsa uses one disguised as a false banister hidden beforehand, while the two backups (disguised as a security guard and a member of the orchestra) use guns disguised as a pair of billy clubs and an alto flute, respectfully.
  • Secret Test of Character: All of Lane's actions are essentially this, giving him the information he needs to plot his Batman Gambits.
  • She's Got Legs: The camera loves to focus on Ilsa's magnificent legs. Ilsa's shoes are specifically focused on in two separate scenes - the torture scene near the beginning of the film, in which she removes them and Ethan compliments them, and the chase scene atop the Vienna opera house when she asks him to remove them for her. There seems to be no in-story reason for it, aside from this trope.
  • Shirtless Scene: Hunt loses his shirt when taken hostage by Syndicate members.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The opera sequence is similar to The Man Who Knew Too Much. The assassin, Ilsa, tries to use a Musical Trigger as a cue for her shot, and Ethan and Benji frantically try to stop it. The target, the Austrian chancellor, survives the attempt with a flesh wound, but sadly, he still gets killed by a car bomb while being evacuated.
    • Like Skyfall, this movie's subplot includes a bureaucrat who questions the necessity of the team, and in the end becomes its leader.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Jane is absent without explanation from this movie, leaving Ilsa as the only female protagonist.
  • Spanner in the Works: If not for Attlee erasing the contents of the disk when Ilsa tried to deliver it, Lane likely would have won.
  • Soft Glass: Hunt crashes through so many windows in this movie, but the only thing that really fazes him is temporarily drowning.
  • Standard Snippet: Opera buffs knew that if part of the plot is taking place during a performance of Turandot, that we were going to hear Nessun Dorma at some point. In fact, the assassination attempt on the Austrian chancellor is scheduled to take place at the end of the aria, when you could expect massive applause to drown out the sound of a shot. A recognizable chunk appears in the score later as Ilsa departs.
  • The Stoic: Solomon Lane spends almost all of his screen-time speaking in the same monotone voice and showing virtually no emotion whatsoever. Until the climax of the movie, that is.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: After pulling his Living MacGuffin gambit, Ethan has Ilsa hold a gun to his head so Lane won't just have his mooks grab Ethan then and there.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: Lane straps Benji to a bomb to keep both Ilsa and Hunt in line for the final part of his plan.
  • The Syndicate: Literally with The Syndicate, a criminal version of America's world-spanning super spy group, the IMF.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • What does Hunt do when faced with two snipers about to kill the Chancellor and only one bullet? He shoots the Chancellor in the shoulder, which causes him to fall to the ground and makes both snipers miss.
    • Discussed in-universe by Ilsa Faust, after she and Ethan meets and she gives him three choices on how to proceed from the situation he's in right now. First is by turning her and the MacGuffin in to the CIA and hoping that it would be enough to prove the existence of The Syndicate (which is highly unlikely). Second is leaving her to her fate and attempting to take down Lane on his own (also highly unlikely). The third choice? Screw everything and run away together with her, since both of them have outlived their usefulness to their own governments who don't care whether they live or die, and that even if they succeed in pulling everything off, there will always be people like Lane to create further menace and people like them to try and stop it, so nothing really changes. Subverted in a sense in that all of this is a distraction for Ethan while The Syndicate kidnaps Benji. Then double subverted because meeting with Ilsa gives Ethan enough clues to put two and two together and correctly concluded that Ilsa's boss Attlee, the head of MI-6, has ties with The Syndicate, presenting him with the very third option he's looking for.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Director Hunley says to Brandt, "Ethan Hunt is living his last day as a free man." Cut to six months later, Ethan is still at large, and is hiding out in Paris.
    • "Nothing is going to happen to me," says the prime minister of Austria, right before the vehicle is in blows up.
    • Holding your breath for three minutes? "Not impossible," says Benji. Thanks to complications, it is, though Ilsa saves Hunt from drowning.
  • Title Drop:
    • Ethan drops the subtitle of the movie while describing The Syndicate.
    Ethan: The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do.
  • Too Clever by Half: Solomon Lane manipulated Ethan from minute one to accomplish Lane's goals for him, but ultimately fails to anticipate that Ethan could turn the tables with the slightest bit of leverage, which Lane's plan gives him as its final stroke.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The "OTHER DOOR!" pre-title gag isn't yelled by Ethan, but by Brandt and Luther after Benji faffs around trying to find the door controls. He also opens the cargo door first which — although annoying — was necessary for Ethan to steal the warheads in the first place.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Lane at the end, when he is trapped in a bulletproof cell and gassed and all he could do is shoot the glass in anger before passing out.
    • The British Prime Minister, having had enough of Atlee's efforts to cover his own ass regarding the Syndicate, in a tone of calm anger tells Atlee to "save it for the public enquiry.
  • True Companions: Following the opera sequence, Ethan tries to make Benji leave, but Benji refuses to abandon him, vowing to help him no matter what. Later, when getting called by Brandt to find Ethan, Luther makes it explicit that his loyalties lie with Ethan himself, not IMF. And even Brandt turns out to be this as well. Similar to the previous film, Brandt is against Ethan's increasingly risky plans. He even decides to call the CIA after seeing that Ethan is taking things too far, all done out of concern for his friend. And even then, it is revealed that he is with Ethan all along in his plan to clear his name so he can be free to continue his mission, also done out of concern for their mutual friend Benji, who got kidnapped by The Syndicate.
  • Trust Password: Ethan goes through a rather elaborate sign/countersign exchange with the agent on station to receive his recorded briefing.
  • Twitchy Eye: Lane gains this facial tick during the climax.
  • Undying Loyalty: Between Hunt and his team, but particularly Benji.
  • Unflinching Walk: Subverted as Ilsa and Ethan attempt to walk away after a bit of improvised Fast-Roping, but freeze when the flagpole they descended from immediately crashes behind them.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: Subverted. Ethan, Benji, and Ilsa talk about how to break into the Secure Computer Facility. Benji suggests face-masks (showing how the steps might play out), but Ilsa tears that down by pointing out the extra levels of encryption. Cue Montage!Benji getting shot by the security system and de-masked.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lane suffers it hard when Ethan traps him in a bulletproof cell and Benji starts gassing him with Lane shooting desperately and frantically before passing out.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lane views his actions as bringing about change to the world rather than maintaining the system, though he seems to use this as an excuse to disavow his own responsibility and justify killing innocents. Attlee however is also revealed to be this, conceiving The Syndicate as a way of securing British interests even if it means going against the wishes of his own countrymen, including the Prime Minister.
  • Wham Line:
    • Within the first few minutes of the movie, during Ethan's briefing in the record shop:
      Recorded Voice: Good evening, Mr. Hunt. The weapons you recovered in Belarus were confirmed to be VX nerve gas, capable of devastating a major city. The bodies of the air crew were found less than 24 hours after they landed in Damascus. They were identified as low level Chechen separatist, with neither the access nor the ability to acquire the weapons they were transporting. This would support your suspicion that a shadow organization is committed to inciting revolution by enabling acts of terror in nations friendly to Western interests. IMF suspects this to be the same shadow organization you have been tracking for the last year also known as the Syndicate. IMF would be right. Normally, you and your team would be tasked with infiltrating and disrupting this terrorist network, but we have taken steps to ensure that this will not happen. Because we are the Syndicate, Mr. Hunt, and now we know who you are. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to face your fate. Pursue us, you'll be caught. Resist us, you'll be killed. And your precious Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Mr. Hunt. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds.
    • The PM also drops one in London:
      Prime Minister: He couldn't be talking about that Syndicate, could he, Atlee? Because you assured me that Syndicate was just an exercise.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: We eventually learn that The Syndicate was created by the British government. The Prime Minister tried to veto the project when he noticed it was named The Syndicate.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Weaponized by Ilsa during the motorcycle chase scene. She knows Ethan wouldn't want to hurt her, even if she's working against him. So when she goes around a tight curve, she quickly gets off her bike and stands in the middle of the road. Ethan, coming around the same curve, has only a split-second to avoid hitting her. He veers off and wipes out, destroying his bike and allowing her to get back on her bike and drive off.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Ethan pretends to be injured in order to lure Lane into a trap in the climax. Lane can't just kill Ethan because the latter possesses information he needs, making this easier to pull off.

Ready or not, here I come...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/MissionImpossibleRogueNation