I just watched Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. First impression? I really enjoyed it. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, his movies are always enjoyable. Plus, I freaking love Simon Pegg, and who doesn’t enjoy a fun spy movie? But, that’s not what this post is about. I was thoroughly impressed by the strong female lead in JJ Abram’s movie, played by Rebecca Ferguson. So, that’s what this post is about. A warning, there will be spoilers. Go see the movie. It’s very good.
Real quick, though, for any movie that Botfriendly reviews, did this movie pass the Bechdel test? Sadly, no. Our heroine, Ilsa Faust, was the only girl (basically) in the entire movie, so she did not A) have any other females to speak to and subsequently B) did not have a conversation with said female about anything other than the male lead. But, still. Read on.
So, Ethan (Tom Cruise) goes “rogue” (hence, Rogue Nation) when the IMF is disbanded. He gets kidnaped by the bad guys and is about to be interrogated (see also: beaten up) in a bad way. Enter the femme fatale…
First encounter: Nice shoes
Ilsa walks in the room wearing a black shirt, pants, and high heels. In fact, the only thing sexy, or Bond-esque, about her are the 6-inch heels—which she takes off. Ethan says, “Nice shoes.” And, she’s basically like, “Yeah, no shit.” She doesn’t say anything, really, but in reality, she has a job to do. She’s a spy! She’s not eye-candy! She’s here to beat the shit out of him, not seduce him into revealing his secrets! What the fuck is going on? Is this a spy movie? Is this woman really going to do her job without utilizing the one-and-only reasonable asset she has—her sexuality!!—to get what she wants? Calm down, I’m being sarcastic.
Second date: Seriously, I can’t do this in these fucking shoes
The next time Ethan sees Ilsa, it’s at the opera. She’s wearing a pretty dress and heels again. After a well-crafted scene, the two must escape from the opera house via the rooftops in Vienna. The first thing Ilsa does? She tells Ethan to take off her shoes! Seriously! He’s actually confused, too. But she’s like, “Look, dude, if you expect me to run across the rooftop and make some daring escape—just like you do—it’s not gonna fucking happen in these goddamn heels!” I love her.
Third pass: Does this lipstick make me look like I give a shit?
OK, So, the whole movie, you’re never quite sure where Ilsa’s loyalty lies. Is she on Ethan’s side? Is she good? She’s a double agent, so, can you trust her? That’s like, the whole movie. But, at one point, Ethan has captured her, and he’s frisking her for weapons. She’s just wearing a fancy dress, but she’s managed to conceal a few weapons and a tube of lipstick. She looks at him and says, “That shade is hard to find.” Dude – what a statement. First, I’m fairly certain it’s a tube of Clinique. This is cheap lipstick. But, you come to find out that obviously, it’s not lipstick, it’s a file drive with a clue to her next whereabouts. But, it was such a cool bit of dialog. Like, “Oh please don’t take my lipstick, I really really need it…for when I kick your ass later.”
Fourth date: These are my big girl panties
There’s a scene in the movie where you see Ilsa training in her pool. She’s trying to dive for up to 3 minutes, but she can’t hold her breath that long. You see two dive suits, and this whole thing sets Tom Cruise up for his big dive scene where he has to go underwater, sans oxygen, for over 3 minutes. The two are working together, but you’re still not sure if she’s on his side. All you know is that she can’t do this stunt. So, Ethan goes underwater, and it goes bad. Of course it does. It’s very tense. Now, you may be asking yourself, why didn’t Ilsa wear the backup suit? Well, because, her next move—jumping in and rescuing Ethan—wouldn’t read quite as genuine, that’s why. Ilsa, who didn’t do the dive, has to go underwater and save Ethan. And, she does it by taking off her coveralls and doing it in her underwear. And here’s the thing: this is where Michael Bay or any of the Bond movies would have gone nuts. She could have had a scene where she wore some ridiculous lacy get-up and gone to the rescue all ‘sexy-like.’ But, no. She wore regular panties and a black tank top. Almost like she was working. Right? I mean, like she was just doing her normal thing, just like Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise were doing. Right?! Do you even realize how revolutionary that fucking is?!?!?!
So look, I do like Bond movies. I think the Bond women are beautiful. I wish I was one. But, it was so refreshing to see a spy movie where the female spy wasn’t seducing the male spy or getting sexy and naked to get out of a sticky situation every 5 minutes. She was scrappy and badass. She was…well, Ethan Hunt’s equal. Weird, right? Way to go Mission Impossible. Well done.