Immediately after the events of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with no Secretary in place to guide the IMF, CIA Chief Hunley (Alec Baldwin) sets out to get the IMF shut down. Although the IMF no longer officially exists, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) sets out to prove the existence of the shadowy organisation The Syndicate, with the help of his loyal friends Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames), and the help of a mysterious and dangerous woman named Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson).
In some ways it is hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible franchise is almost 20 years old, and that Tom Cruise is still not only the lead actor in the films, but brave enough to fly 15,000 feet on the outside of an airplane for the sake of a good stunt. The real question here, however, is whether the mission to make a fifth enjoyable and fun instalment of the franchise really is impossible, especially with a 131 minute running time.
Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt and, to be honest, does not do a lot to differentiate the character from any other role he has played in the last few years. This does not impact much on the film though, as he is charming enough, and still fit enough to carry the story and the action. It does feel like a slight step back though, since he was strong and rather funny in last year’s Edge of Tomorrow. Elsewhere, Simon Pegg is back as comic relief, Ving Rhames drives and quips, Jeremy Renner handles exposition and Rebecca Ferguson steals the show as the charming, beautiful and badass Ilsa.
Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay focuses heavily on the action sequences, leaving the film feeling as though it is going from set piece to set piece, but he still manages to make the ridiculous action fun and entertaining. The fact that these are practical effects too – yes, Tom Cruise really did hang off the side of a plane, and did all of his own stunt driving – means that they look great and have the audience on the edge of their seats, The dialogue is heavy on hyperbole – ‘Today is the day that the IMF’s luck runs out’ and ‘Hunt is both arsonist and fireman at the same time’ are particular standouts – but somehow these work for the film, which has been preceded by some pretty over the top movies, that all managed to be fun. There are times when the scenes drag out too long, and the Kinder Surprise style weaponry loses its Ridiculous charm. There are some nice homages to the films gone before, however, and the traditional ‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it’ trope is given a nice twist. Shame the villain is rather one dimensional, and not that threatening though.
As director, McQuarrie manages to almost pace the film well, meaning that most of the extended running time actually flies by, with the audience engaged and along for the ride. The opening set piece is so bonkers and over the top that it sets the tone for the rest of the film, and allows the rest of the action and double crosses to be as over the top as they can be. That said, the fact that Cruise and Ferguson did a lot – if not all – of their own stunts does lead to the feeling that these sequences have been drawn out longer than they need to be, in order to show this off. As well as this, it seems as though character development is allowed to fall by the wayside in favour of a good action moment, and a pretty yellow dress and some gadgets is enough for us to know all we need to about Ilsa, which does Ferguson’s performance a disservice.
In all, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is as bonkers and batshit as you would hope for a M:I film. Rebecca Ferguson not only cements her place as an actress and action star to watch, but brings a breath of fresh air to the franchise, which shows no signs of stopping. Some tighter editing, a properly developed villain and stronger character development would have led to a better film, but as it stands, it is almost impossible to not have fun with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Just don’t expect it to make a whole lot of sense.