One major issue with the modern day blockbuster is that disappointing ‘connect the dots’ feeling they can engender when the storyline takes a back seat to the impressive action sequences and is only used to loosely string them together. Although Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation sits firmly within that blockbuster sphere and, undoubtedly, the action sequences are impressive – the motorbike chase in particular (yes, it’s really him and he’s really riding a motorbike) – then the narrative is pulled taut across the two hour duration, allowing director Christopher McQuarrie to beat out a fast and sustained pace throughout, meaning the spectacle feels justified and not gratuitous.
This marks the fifth time Tom Cruise has donned his Ethan Hunt cap and by now it’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing. The slightly unnerving thing is that he seems to be getting younger with each outing, Rogue Nation being no exception, as he leads his trusty IMF team once again in the fight against another shadowy foe (played with suitable Bond-villain-esque silliness by Sean Harris). And there is a definite extra waft of Bond here; an ex-agent working to take down their former employers and bring chaos and destruction to the world, our hero being outcast and hunted by his own organisation – see Skyfall – and Cruise even getting into his tux at one point. Ethan Hunt always was a bit like the American James Bond anyway but this time they’ve really gone for it. And why not? It works.
Ving Rhames is the only other surviving cast member from 1996’s first installment – in what has since grown into a billion dollar franchise – and does what’s asked of him, within the limited scope of his character’s involvement, commendably. He certainly gives Simon Pegg a run for his money in terms of generating the biggest laugh and, it must be said, with far less effort. Jeremy Renner and Sir Alec Baldwin (OK, so he’s not really a knight) round off the cast with a decent sub-plot rivalry that adds nicely to the espionage levels required to keep things in enough jeopardy to ensure the plot stays engaging.
This is an action movie, and a big one at that, so let’s talk action. Clinical, impactive and brilliantly captured, punctuated by some knowingly self-referential comic relief, and maintaining the tropes of this franchise that audiences around the world have come to know and love, the action is a lot of fun with only the odd unoriginal and unnecessary moment. It doesn’t try to get overly complicated or grand in its design; there’s a bad guy, wanting to do bad things, and Tom Cruise and his team have to stop him. It’s quite nice to see such a simple concept realised so simply and effectively, allowing the filmmakers to take all the good bits from the previous four Mission: Impossible films and use them, build on them and add some new stuff into the mix too. The resultant blend is intelligent enough, slick enough and ultimately fun enough to make the finished flavour entirely agreeable to its audience.
Cruise’s Peter Pan physicality is among the stars of the show, one pretty astounding example seeing him escape from being handcuffed to a twelve-foot pole will genuinely drop the jaw in awe, and in the excellent, if under dressed, Rebecca Ferguson he finds his match and partner in crime.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation knows exactly what it is and goes about achieving it very well; good solid entertainment delivered with experience and buckets of ability, proving once again that Cruise still has what it takes to open a movie.