Tag Archives: Rebecca Ferguson

The First Sin of Adapting “Dune”

The following article contains spoilers for “Dune”.

Duke Leto. Ultradad. Father Knows Best in Space. Every adaptation of “Dune” lionizes the man so that we know just how much his son Paul loses when House Harkonnen massacres his family. Yet the point of Duke Leto is the opposite. We understand Paul loses a loved one, but we also must understand how Duke Leto sets the themes of “Dune”. By transforming Leto into an enlightened ruler cut short, “Dune” immediately sets fire to the foundation of the themes Frank Herbert’s novel sought to develop.

Duke Leto in the novel is a man obsessed with aristocratic convention, hierarchy, and ancestry. He’s disdainful to servants, strict with Paul and his consort Jessica, he plots just as willfully and consciously as the Harkonnens. He’s not a good man caught in the trap of taking over Arrakis because others like him too much. He’s a man who’s shrewdly gathered power, spearheaded new military technology, and developed an army meant to rival the Emperor’s.

Leto is altruistic, though often with a goal, hoping the stories of his magnanimity reach others. He’s kind in many moments, but he can be cruel in others. At times his kindness is honest, at times it’s a leverage or exchange. It’s crucial in every adaptation that Duke Leto envisions himself as being a righteous, enlightened man. It’s a foundational mistake that every adaptation sees him this way as well.

The most accurate portrayal in director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune” is Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica. I understand the idea that she’s portrayed in an overly emotional way, but Villeneuve’s mistake isn’t doing this – she’s emotional in the book, too. This guides many of her decisions, and even ways in which Leto and Jessica use each other. Ferguson maintains Jessica as both intimidating and empathetic. Villeneuve’s mistake is not making Leto and Paul just as emotional. No, they’re supermen. Even if Paul is inconsistent, unsure, and often afraid of his visions, he’s still only a scene away from calmly piloting through a storm or going full John Wick.

This directly points to the thematic failure of Villeneuve’s “Dune”. In the novel, Duke Leto envisions his actions on Arrakis as righteous no matter how colonial his presence is. Paul is torn between the keen awareness of his mother even as she tries to subvert and accelerate prophecy, and the aristocratic determinism of his father.

It’s very appropriate that House Atreides views itself as noble, enlightened, and righteous – it envisions its leadership can bring peace to Arrakis, rather than recognizing that by definition its presence is yet one more act of violence. Simply because it’s not as brutal or wholesale a violence as House Harkonnen doesn’t mean it isn’t still violent. Of course Duke Leto views himself as righteous, but it’s a major, foundational problem that the film does, too. “Dune” misses an opportunity for this to be an object of discussion between Leto and Paul. They talk about who Paul wants to be when he’s older, but the pressing matter on Paul’s mind throughout the movie is one that he never directly voices to his father.

Every adaptation of “Dune” has treated House Atreides as noble and tragic when they participated in a cycle of direct occupation. In the novel, Leto sees Arrakis as an opportunity. He might even be described as foolhardy in his willingness to engage the danger. He jumps at the chance. Yes, everyone knows the Emperor has set a trap, but Leto also views this as the culmination of his own efforts to challenge the emperor. He certainly views it as the result of generations of his ancestors building power. It’s not just a situation he falls into cause he’s just such a gosh darn good space dad. It’s one his family’s been aiming for over generations.

In the novel, Arrakis isn’t a solemn duty Leto’s willing to martyr himself for as he tries to nobly empower the indigenous Fremen. To Leto, Arrakis is his family’s manifest destiny, and the Fremen are a tool that can be useful against both House Harkonnen and the Emperor. This sets the entire thematic foundation for Jessica and Paul’s later manipulation of the Fremen.

It also sets a comparison for author Frank Herbert’s criticism of “charismatic leadership”, wherein he offers an example of its danger in antiquity and monarchic history through Leto before engaging its modern populist version through Paul. Leto illustrates that this type of marketing of a hero or messiah isn’t something new that only inhabits a strict definition that’s easy to recognize. Through Leto and Paul, Herbert argues that it will always exist, hide in new forms, and define itself through whatever evangelizes a population into believing it uniquely embodies a manifest destiny.

Paul’s struggle isn’t between the goodness and idealism of his father and the awareness and shrewdness of his mother, as in the film. His struggle is whether he lies to himself and justifies it like his father, or he holds the awareness of exactly what he does and the damages he causes like his mother. Does he justify his manipulation of the Fremen to himself as enlightened fate, or does he recognize the violence he impels are his own decisions? This is why it’s important that his visions offer multiple paths; they’re about how much he chooses to lie to himself out of his own emotional shortcomings.

Leto and Paul are both emotional, unreliable, and narcissistic. It’s crucial to both that before they market their righteousness to anyone else, they’ve sold themselves on it. As a Bene Gesserit with a broader view, Jessica has no need for this. She doesn’t need to convince herself of her own righteousness like Leto and Paul; she has awareness they lack. She sees their occupation of Arrakis is itself an act of violence. She is comfortable committing that act. The problem in the film isn’t that Jessica is emotional, it’s that Leto and Paul aren’t even moreso.

Perhaps Villeneuve fails to show Leto or Paul in this light because of a male gaze that wants them to be more stolid and stoic. Perhaps he only sees the anti-colonial and anti-populist thread in Lady Jessica, and fails to in Leto and – to this point – Paul. Those reasons are worth discussing. What they arrive at is a lionization of Leto that directly undermines and sabotages the foundation of the novel’s themes. Villeneuve could go either direction with Paul – a hero’s journey that every adaptation of “Dune” has thus far embraced, or the criticism of the hero’s journey that Herbert actually wrote. With Villeneuve’s Part Two on the horizon, I’m willing to treat the jury as still out on Paul.

Yet by failing to recognize or engage this at all with Leto, Villeneuve has already shown a lack of recognition for, or a willingness to ignore, the thematic foundation on which the rest of “Dune” is built. Paul’s entire journey is one of balancing Jessica’s awareness and long view with enough of Leto’s narcissism and self-justification to overcome his doubt. He gets the worst of both of his parents, weaknesses we often dangerously mistake for strengths. Without showing what those weaknesses and dangers are in Leto, Villeneuve fails not just Leto’s character, but Paul’s as well.

Here, Leto is just a Golly Gee Awesome Space Dad in a Bind (if Chuck Tingle uses that title, I want royalties). Oscar Isaac is very good in that role; that role just isn’t useful in “Dune” unless you’re making a hero’s journey for a Chosen One – exactly what “Dune” was written to criticize.

Changing Leto for the film adds some drama to the premise for House Atreides, but it does so at the cost of meaning in relation to the Fremen, the novel’s themes, and the very characters of Leto and Paul. Instead of viewing the Fremen as enduring one more viceroy, no matter how “soft” his colonialism acts, we now view Leto as a tragic victim.

Villeneuve’s “Dune” wants to have later conversations about colonialism, but it misses the most important opportunity to build a foundation for these. Every adaptation of “Dune” has been too preoccupied and worshipful of the classically tragic nobility of House Atreides, and that’s excused any of these adaptations from giving its leaders the more complex presentation they need.

Because the Duke is sold as enlightened, we avoid engaging him with the same critical eye “Dune” turns toward everything else. That means the very first thing Villeneuve’s “Dune” does is ignore the same ideals the rest of the film seeks to criticize. Simply because every adaptation likes the Duke too much, we fail to engage this first act of harm. Our first lesson in every “Dune” adaptation is to ignore the very conversation “Dune” wants to have. Because it’s a “softer” act of harm, or one we feel Duke Leto has no choice but to commit, we begin an anti-colonial narrative by first excusing an act of colonialism. We’re taught to treat a viceroy who sees Arrakis as an opportunity for his own advancement as the real victim of colonialism. Then those adaptations want to talk to you about colonialism as if they haven’t already started by excusing it.

“Dune” somehow manages to trick its storytellers into undermining themselves despite Herbert expressly detailing who Duke Leto is. No adaptation has actually managed this first hurdle because none of them are willing to sacrifice the hero’s journey and the justifying incident that it requires.

Every adaptation of “Dune” commits a first sin of failing world, theme, and character. We only even see half the Duke’s tragedy. By wanting to love his character so, we overlook that his fall is also the result of his self-serving nature. To be a classically tragic leader, the Duke must be capable, kind, and admirable. So we get a classically tragic Duke – but he’s also meant to be tragic in a much more modern sense. He might understand the politics of the universe beautifully, and he’s educated himself on Arrakis well. Yet in lying to himself about his role in relation to the planet and its people as an enlightened ruler who can save it – instead of as an imperial viceroy whose participation in saving it is simply a continuance of a violent colonial act – the idealism that makes us view him as noble and enlightened is itself a lie. The whole point of his character is that the narrative he holds of himself is a lie. As a novel, “Dune” is clear on this. What he sacrifices himself for lacks meaning, and first requires the sacrifice of those who follow him. That is the tragedy. The point of the Duke is that populism of any sort kills itself when it buys into its own marketing, and in doing so it will sacrifice everyone else first.

In the classical sense, the Duke is tragic because he thinks he can succeed at making things better – and this contributes to his death. In the modern sense, the Duke is tragic because his self-marketing makes him believe he is playing a role far more righteous than it is, one he can manifest, one that his aristocratic history and adherence has led him to. His surprise with the quickness that he loses is because he thought his ascension was determined, trap or no trap. He’s not an idiot; he knows the danger. He just thinks it can’t touch him. This is specifically observed by other characters in the franchise, such as Princess Irulan (who you’ll meet later).

Adaptations of the novel choose the righteous half of that description – they believe what Leto believes about himself. They forget the self-righteous half – the role Leto plays, and that his belief does not define fact. The noble act he dies for is itself a lie he believes. Missing this in “Dune” means we once more have an adaptation that fails to fully grasp the conversation on which it wants to spend hours more philosophizing.

To understand how Jessica and Paul move forward as they do, especially as manipulators of the Fremen and not just a Chosen One and his mom, we need a more complex understanding of Duke Leto. Because we don’t have it, “Dune” in adaptation after adaptation trips into becoming a heroic Chosen One narrative regardless of its intentions. Like Leto, adaptations of “Dune” have made the mistake of thinking they’re more noble than they are. Their stories employ violence as episodic set piece without a deeper grasp of “Dune” as a story about cultural acts of violence. They mistake their protagonists as heroes in these set pieces, rather than as characters who see the violence of these set pieces as markers to exceed when they get their chance.

Like the 1984 film and the 2000 miniseries, the 2021 Part One of “Dune” is an exquisite adaptation of a hero’s journey, which means it fails the very first test of whether it’s a good adaptation of the novel. “Dune” as a novel understands the hero’s journey is marketing, that in the real world it covers over atrocities and builds populist consensus for war. Perhaps the newly greenlit Part Two of “Dune” will course correct this. Perhaps “Part One” is just a set up for how it all comes crashing down.

On its own, astounding as it may be in other ways, Villeneuve’s Part One fails to confront the questions that “Dune” as a novel is built around. It’s the third time in a row an adaptation screws up out of the gate. It fails to see that its thematic conversation starts with Leto at the very beginning, and not simply with Paul as a reaction. Leto isn’t just a premise or a sacrifice that evokes Paul’s vengeance and ambition; Leto is the prototype of it. Leto is a rough draft that ultimately fails, both literally and metaphorically poisoning itself. You can only engage so much of that conversation if you completely miss its foundation. You can only recognize a very limited amount of what “Dune” entails if you miss the bulk of where it starts and what it includes. Villeneuve’s “Dune” is a really solid “Game of Thrones” in space, but it’s not a good adaptation of the novel. I don’t care if the visual and technological details are painstakingly accurate when the theme isn’t. Science-fiction can only be so high-concept when it completely misses the concept.

This is the first sin of adapting “Dune”. No one who has adapted it so far is willing to treat its “soft” colonialism as violent, or its historical populism as a rough draft of Paul’s. Leto is treated as the first step of the hero’s journey: what is lost. He’s supposed to be the first step that argues against it: what justifies vengeance. That’s the foundation on which means are justified to achieve vengeance, on which violence is justified to realize those means, on which leadership is sold to make that violence achievable, on which a messiah is marketed to achieve that leadership.

Adaptations of “Dune” don’t just miss that first step; they directly reverse it. You can no longer argue, embody, or represent the themes of the novel when you’ve inverted the foundation to mean the opposite of those themes.

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“Dune” is Great, and a Fraction of What it Could Have Been

“Dune” is good. It’s great. It also stumbles at the first hurdle of adapting Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. No matter how artistically impressive they’ve been, no adaptation of “Dune” has managed to follow through on the convictions of its source.

At least “Dune” conveys the plot in a straightforward and compelling manner. That already sets it above the cut-to-shreds 1984 movie and the overly somber 2000 miniseries. The Emperor rules the known universe, but space travel is reliant on Spice. Spice is found on one planet: the desert world Arrakis. House Harkonnen has ruled Arrakis for centuries, abusing the indigenous Fremen while growing in wealth and power enough to challenge the Emperor. Meanwhile, House Atreides has grown in power through leadership and alliance. The solution is simple. House Atreides is put in charge of Arrakis, setting up a war between the two powerful houses that should weaken both.

We follow the royal family of House Atreides through this: the idealistic Duke Leto, his consort Lady Jessica, and their son Paul. Here, Rebecca Ferguson carries the film as Jessica. Oscar Isaac and Timothee Chalamet are solid as Leto and Paul, but for such important characters can feel too broadly defined.

“Dune” is very deliberately paced without ever feeling slow or boring. It’s constantly interesting, full of exciting ideas and imagery that conveys cultures we’re only getting to peek into for a brief time.

It often looks like what David Lean might have filmed had he ever directed a sci-fi movie. That’s appropriate, given how the writings of T.E. Lawrence – the historical subject of Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” – influenced the novel. The movie is visually brilliant, hearkening back to the mythic and philosophical scope of 70s science-fiction.

All that said, this is part one of “Dune”. It adapts the first half of the novel, with the second part just given the green light for production. It feels like it. It has the attitude of a prologue. Even though there’s plenty of meat to the story and many things change from beginning to end, it can still feel like the shortest 2 hour and 35 minute movie you’ve ever seen. It ends right as it gets going. It’s a very worthwhile experience. It’s also an inherently incomplete one.

I won’t spoil where it ends, but it concludes on a character moment, instead of the two more epic moments that precede or follow it. I like that idea, but director Denis Villeneuve maintains a certain amount of distance from his characters, and doesn’t fully enough weave the themes of “Dune” through them. This saps power from their portrayal. Ending on a character moment means less when Villeneuve has built his film around world-building and plot, with his characters sometimes coming across more like chess pieces.

I suspect that part one of “Dune” will feel like a more complete experience after the second movie comes out and concludes the adaptation. What we’re really watching is the first act and beginning of the second act of an epic. We have the first half of a five hour-plus movie, which makes the experience both astounding and incomplete.

Amidst its art-house foundation of visions, philosophy, quiet emoting, and the beginnings of a conversation about colonialism, “Dune” loses some of its strong visual fluidity to its action scenes. It feels surprising to write that “Dune” has too much action, since it really doesn’t have much at all.

The problem isn’t the quality of the action – it’s both captivating and unique. The problem is that the action elements force “Dune” toward an episodic quality. We spend plenty of time with our core cast, but we don’t get a fluid sense of their experiences in these biggest moments of “Dune”. This is when we’re most distant from them, and when they become the most inaccessible. These moments are reserved for the action set pieces rather than character experiences. We’re already at a distance from these characters, which is fine, but we’re then held back from them even more when we most want to be close to them. We want to have a better sense of how they’re living these upheavals.

I don’t need to see the fight scene happen on one side of the door if the point of it is the emotional experience of the people on the other side of that door who can’t see it. We get the set piece in detail when we should be alongside our main characters, who are fearful, sad, and angry because they don’t know what’s happening in that set piece, whether someone they care for will live or die.

A good fight scene is like a good dialogue scene – something about a character’s understanding should change from beginning to end. This is when Villeneuve leaves the characters whose understanding is changing. He brings the details of these scenes while forgetting the point of them is supposed to be their impact. These details are phenomenal, but that doesn’t change the fact that their impact is left on the cutting room floor.

I do enjoy “Dune”. It is routinely captivating, if episodic. Part of me wonders if there’s a three-and-a-half hour director’s cut that maintains a better rhythm and fluidity. I am looking forward to the second part. “Dune” is a great movie that adapts many details of the novel. I also think it’s missing the entire point of the novel. No adaptation of “Dune” has held to its convictions that the story is a subversion of the hero’s journey, showing the danger of a charismatic leader. Every adaptation has instead turned its back on that idea in favor of presenting the very hero’s journey the novel argued against and sought to dismantle.

No matter how much detail you incorporate into your adaptation, if it skips the entire point of the novel, it’s not a good adaptation. It can still be a good movie about other things, a staggeringly beautiful experience about other things, and “Dune” is both. Yet these choices inherently gut the film of the bulk of its power and meaning. What we’re left with is something that deserves to be talked about among the best films of the year, but also a movie that is only a fragment of what it could have been.

You can watch “Dune” on HBO Max.

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Ethan Meets an Equal — “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

Rebecca Ferguson fight scene in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
You just hang around, Tom Cruise, I got this.

by Gabriel Valdez

Every once in a while, there’s an action movie you breathe your way out of as the credits roll. You’ve been smiling the last several minutes and maybe you hadn’t even realized you were holding your breath. You’re also charged – your adrenaline’s spiking and you feel like you could do a thousand ill-advised stunts just like the action heroes on screen did. The Matrix is the poster child of this post-movie syndrome. Millions of viewers in 1999 hoped that someone would try to engage them in a kung fu battle in the theater’s parking lot. The Bourne Ultimatum made us feel like we could race across rooftops and earlier this year, Mad Max: Fury Road made passengers across America shout for exhilarated drivers to stop hairpinning every turn as if they were being chased by post-apocalyptic Viking dune buggies.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is not just the best of the Mission: Impossible films, it’s also one of the better spy movies you may ever see. There are larger than life action sequences, but the film lives and breathes its complicated spy world like none of the other Mission: Impossible films have. Each movie in this series has been an action movie first and a spy movie second. Rogue Nation reverses this trend. It ramps up the film’s spy elements without losing the breakneck action. Moreover, there are fewer technological gimmicks – Rogue Nation is a film about play and counter-play, about plots buried within plots and the personalities behind them clashing and manipulating each other.

The hallmark of the Mission: Impossible franchise is getting to see nearly every element of a well-orchestrated plan go wrong at some point. The team has to adjust on the fly. Rogue Nation remembers this, but evokes it in some different ways.

Tom Cruise on motorcycle in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Tom, look behind you. THAT’S why you need to wear a helmet.

As Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his spy agency the IMF are shut down by Congress, he has to pursue a burgeoning terrorist organization without much help. Where predecessor Ghost Protocol found mileage by pairing Cruise with Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt, Rogue Nation makes a riskier gambit. Cruise is paired with Simon Pegg’s Benji for a good portion of the film. Benji isn’t just there for comic relief; he’s an agent in his own right by this point. Pegg’s impeccable timing and irreverent attitude bring a fuller human being out of Cruise this time around. Pegg’s presence allows Cruise to be less perfect, more flawed. It’s an unexpectedly enjoyable screen pairing.

The previous “best” in the series, Ghost Protocol let the viewer into the chaos even as a plan unfolded. The tension in a spy sequence relied on how our heroes were going to find ways to help each other as everything around them broke down. Rogue Nation takes a different tack by hiding several characters’ real motivations from the viewer. The tension arises from how our heroes may find ways to betray each other. It’s a fun inversion that takes particular advantage of Jeremy Renner’s skill at being such a good wet blanket.

Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Jeremy Renner: wet blanket for hire.

There are two big names to know here. The first is Rebecca Ferguson. She plays Ilsa Faust, who is Ethan’s equal as an agent. This isn’t the James Bond style of “equal,” meaning she’s equal insofar as it takes to turn her into a romantic conquest. No, she is essentially as good a fighter, as good a shot, as good a driver, and as clever a spy as Ethan is. She’s also the heart of the plot, something of a quadruple agent by the time the story’s done.

This brings up the second name: Christopher McQuarrie. He directed and wrote the screenplay. You may not know him, but he once won an Oscar for writing The Usual Suspects. It was a complex crime thriller with practical style and storytelling. For inspiration, Rogue Nation hearkens back to that practical style, as well as the first Mission: Impossible film. McQuarrie has a talent for creating incredibly complex and ever-evolving stories, but he uses considerable behind-the-scenes wizardry to present a classy, raw-yet-polished style that’s free of needless flash. Audiences can easily keep up with and enjoy the complicated spy shenanigans.

We may not all be Tom Cruise fans – there are things to admire and despise about the actor himself. If you’re going to watch any recent Tom Cruise movie, this is the one to see. There’s not much ego to the film. It’s also a Rebecca Ferguson and a Simon Pegg movie. While it’s a very good action film, it’s a truly thrilling spy movie. You probably won’t see anything else like it this year.

Does it Pass the Bechdel Test?

This section uses the Bechdel Test as a foundation to discuss the representation of women in film. Read why I’m including this section here.

1. Does Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation have more than one woman in it?

Yes and no. Outside Rebecca Ferguson, there is a speaking role for Hermione Corfield, but the technically correct version of this question requires more than one named woman. Corfield plays “Record Shop Girl.” A few henchmen (but still not enough) are played by women, which is refreshing, and Jingchu Zhang plays Lauren, but her role is brief and I don’t think she’s ever named in the film, just on the IMDB page.

2. Do they talk to each other?

No.

3. About something other than a man?

Moot point if the previous answer is a no.

This is an interesting one because it goes in all directions at once, both good and bad. Paula Patton and Maggie Q were sought to reprise their roles from the fourth and third movies, much as Renner, Pegg, and Ving Rhames reprise their roles. Patton couldn’t do it because of her lead role in the Warcraft movie, while Maggie Q was filming the lead role in the now-canceled TV show Stalker.

One can be informed by what happens behind-the-scenes – I can understand why they didn’t want to introduce additional team members beyond the ones we already know. At the same time, one also has to judge by what’s on the screen, and Rogue Nation fails the Bechdel Test pretty hard.

The Bechdel Test is part of an equation, not the whole thing. It’s refreshing to see a woman who’s neither a love interest nor a junior member to the team here. Ilsa being Ethan’s equal is stressed, and Ferguson carries the action scenes incredibly well across multiple fights. On the who-saves-who scorecard, Ethan comes out owing Ilsa pretty considerably.

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
It’s what I always wear when assassinating chancellors.

The film does focus on Rebecca Ferguson scantily dressed in at least three scenes. There is some level of lusting the other direction, however, as Tom Cruise is presented to us shirtless and still in better shape than most of America. It’s certainly not equal lusting. The male gaze is served much more than the female gaze. I give credit to the film for not forcing a romance between the 31 year-old Ferguson and the 53 year-old Cruise. It could have diminished the notion that she’s his equal if done wrong (most films do this wrong), as well as disrespecting the narrative of Ethan’s own complicated, still-in-love-with Michelle Monaghan backstory from the third and fourth films.

Take all of that into account. Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa is my second favorite movie badass of any gender this year after Charlize Theron’s Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. The difference is that Furiosa was allowed to be a badass without being sexualized according to the male gaze the way Ilsa is. It’s also awkward because, given her role in the film, Ilsa doesn’t need to be so sexualized.

Rebecca Ferguson on motorcycle in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
I don’t understand, why couldn’t she wear this to the opera?

The end result is something complicated: there’s a positively portrayed, talented, professional woman who can spy, fight, drive, and do all the things Tom Cruise does without having to fall for him. She’s his complete equal plot-wise, but not always according to the film’s camera. At times, she’s still hyper-sexualized in a way not necessitated by the plot but that serves the male gaze in the audience. I don’t find myself angry at Rogue Nation the way I am at some films that do this. Whether that’s because Ilsa is presented so equally otherwise, or because my opinion’s been compromised by the tendencies of my own gaze, it’s difficult to tell.

Trying to return Patton and Maggie Q along with the franchise’s other actors is a positive, but not one that shows up on screen or that can be communicated to most audiences. Regardless, ending up with so few women in the film is a big negative. That Ferguson’s Ilsa is presented so capably is a big positive. That Ferguson’s Ilsa is sexualized by the camera in a way that she isn’t by the plot or through her characterization is a negative. Given the state of the industry as a whole when it comes to women, do the negatives outweigh the positives? Given the lack of strong women characters, does having that one positive outweigh the negatives? This time, I can’t really tell. There’s a lot missing from Rogue Nation in the way of women, but what it does have in Ferguson’s Ilsa is missing from a lot of the industry. This section isn’t always meant for judgment, certainly not as much as it’s meant for information. If it were meant for judgment, I would find mine pretty obscured this time out.

Where did we get our awesome images? The feature image is from NY Daily News’ box office report. The topmost of Rebecca Ferguson throwing an elbow and the one with Jeremy Renner are from Slice of Sci-Fi’s review. Tom Cruise on a motorcycle comes from Forbes’ box office report. The last two images of Rebecca Ferguson come from the excellent Collider.