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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

ANYONE familiar with Christopher McQuarrie’s CV should realise that appointing him as writer-director of the latest Mission: Impossible was a smart gamble that pays off handsomely in this fifth instalment of the action franchise.

McQuarrie is no stranger to working with Tom Cruise, having co-written the previous Mission: Impossible entry, Ghost Protocol, as well as penning the screenplay for Valkyrie and writing and directing Jack Reacher. But this screenplay, while adhering to the tried and tested Mission: Impossible formula at various points, also owes a lot to the more twisting work of earlier McQuarrie classics, The Usual Suspects and The Way Of The Gun in that it’s smartly worded and very stylish.

Hence, Rogue Nation is a blockbuster that expertly combines exhilarating visual thrills with the kind of intricate storyline that requires viewers to pay attention. It also treads a nice line between the drama and the humour.

The story, this time, pits Cruise’s IMF agent Ethan Hunt against a shadowy organisation known as The Syndicate, which is rapidly emerging as a threat to world peace by virtue of its clandestine but brutally efficient terrorist operations.

To complicate Hunt’s mission even further, the IMF has been disbanded and he has been turned into a fugitive by a bullish CIA chief (Alec Baldwin), which means that Hunt and his team (the returning Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames) have to work hard to stay one step ahead of their own government.

And that’s not even including the mysterious Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), a fellow agent who may or may not be working for The Syndicate or pursuing her own, equally deadly, agenda.

If the end result is never really in doubt, McQuarrie does at least throw audiences a few curveballs along the way, while quite possibly turning Ilsa into one of Hunt’s most formidable adversaries yet. And it’s one of the film’s many strengths that he allows Ferguson to make such a big impression. The actress enjoys almost equal billing to Cruise and delivers a wonderfully enigmatic, smokingly sexy, kick-ass agent who enlivens proceedings whenever she is on-screen.

Cruise, meanwhile, continues to dazzle and amaze with his own physical prowess, throwing himself around to make a mockery of his 53 years of age, and committing some more death-defying stunts to the big screen. He and McQuarrie have really delivered the goods when it comes to the set pieces this time, and are even ballsy enough to make the jaw-dropping airplane trailer moment open the film. It shows how much confidence they have in the material that follows that they don’t ‘jump the shark’ too early (as some James Bond films have in the past).

Rather, there’s always another stylish – if not quite so outlandish – set piece waiting in the wings, with a supremely slick opera assassination an early highlight (particularly in the way that McQuarrie uses Ferguson) and an extended car chase cum motorbike chase guaranteed to get the adrenaline flowing. The latter is shot in such a way that audiences may well feel like they’re on the bike with Cruise at times and the feeling is nothing short of sensational.

Of note, too, is Sean Harris’ calculated villain, whose icy demeanour offers a throwback to Cold War era villains such as Robert Shaw’s assassin in From Russia With Love, albeit with less of a physical edge.

With so much working in the film’s favour, it’s easy to overlook the flaws, of which there are some. Pegg’s sidekick sometimes delivers a quip where one isn’t needed and threatens to undermine some of the movie’s intensity, while a third act involving the British Prime Minister borders on the farcical and takes things a little too far over the top.

But McQuarrie has such a firm grip on the material overall that even when pandering to slightly more obvious Mission: Impossible traits, he’s always got another trick up his sleeve or inventive set piece to excite.

Hence, Rogue Nation is another superior entry into a franchise that has consistently managed to deliver more than its fair share of thrills – and that’s no small achievement given some of what’s come before.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 131mins
UK Release Date: July 30, 2015