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maryann johanson | takeaway only

Where Are the Women? Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Where Are the Women? Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

The only female character here may be intelligent and capable… but she is often treated as a decorative object in a way that her male colleagues aren’t.

Warning! Tiny spoiler in the Wildcard section.


Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]
Is she the only woman in an otherwise all-male ensemble? [why this matters]


Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]

Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]


Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
Are one or more either a protagonist or significant supporting character? [why this matters]


[no issues]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

Normally I deduct 5 points for a movie that romantically pairs a woman with a man old enough to be her father [why this matters]. Here, while Tom Cruise (born 1962) and Rebecca Ferguson (born 1983) do not quite end up as a romantic couple, the idea that it could happen at any moment hangs in the air throughout the film, and the implication that it may happen in the future remains hanging there at the end.


IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: The only female character here may be physically strong, highly intelligent, and very capable… but she is the only female character with any real presence in the film — and there are several other roles that could have been cast with female actors without changing a single word of the script or altering in any way the story’s themes — and she is often treated as a decorative object in a way that her male colleagues never are.

Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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