Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Star: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner

An exceptionally solid piece of action entertainment, it helps that the "Tom is on the outside of the plane!" footage of which we were heavily aware, shows up in the first five minutes. When you're expecting that to be the climax, turning it into the film's curtain-jerker is a radical adjustment of audience expectations, and for the great part, it delivers on these. I can't help feeling I've seen this story before though, with the IMF again closed down, forcing Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his band of motley associated - Ving Rhames about the only survivor from the original, almost 20 years ago - as they whizz around the world in search of... stuff. Let's just leave it at that. It plays like a more sociable version of classic Bond, all globe-trotting, gadgets and girls, though the latter, in the form mostly of improbably-named MI5 operative Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), steals the show in a way not seen by an action heroine since... Er, about two months ago, in Mad Max: Fury Road, to be honest. If this is a trend, it's one I'm happy to endorse.

The variety of characters does allow for a bit more range in tone than Bond movies; Pegg delivers the most amusing lines, such as "Join the IMF! See the world! On a monitor. From a closet..." Renner, as the man tasked with trying to keep Hunt in check and fend off the predatory CIA, had a nicely world-weary air, though you do occasionally wonder how much longer Cruise can keep going as the ageless wonder. The action is highly competent on all fronts, and only occasionally succumbs to obvious 3-D pandering, most obviously in the sequence set in the underground, water-filled chamber. This is also heavily CGI'd, so much less effective than the stuff which is actually done - such as the excellent car- and motorcycle-chase through the streets of Casablanca, or the extended sequence of human chess in the Vienna Opera House, played out to the strains of Turandot [a.k.a. that song by the fat bloke with the beard, for any cultural Philistines]. It's well over two hours long, yet doesn't feel padded in the slightest and you can't argue you're cheated out of value, since this is definitely one to see at the cinema. Just give Pegg and Ferguson their own franchise and I'll be happy.

[August 2015]

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