Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin
Five films in, and nearly twenty years since his first outing, Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt to pilot an outstanding entry into what must be Paramount's best 60s TV series-cum-movie franchise since Star Trek. As usual, the mission doesn't quite live up to the promise of being "impossible", but the circumstances of the plot, and the machinations of the bad guys, certainly make it bloody difficult for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF).
The movie begins with the customary MacGyver-esque opening gambit which sees Hunt and team (Pegg, Rhames) attempt to prevent some nasty VX gas from leaving Belarus via freight plane. Due to a few technical issues with a computer, this necessitates Hunt's direct involvement (whilst wearing a sharp grey suit) to attempt to board the aircraft as it takes off. This opening scene, featured in the trailers and posters, lays down the gauntlet for the rest of the movie as an action-packed, set-piece driven thriller. It does not disappoint. The film is a non-stop roller-coaster ride of thrills, intrigue, clever plotting and edge-of-your-seat sequences that really deserve praise. "Rogue Nation" cleverly piggybacks on current world security concerns by establishing an organisation, nicknamed The Syndicate, as an unofficial world power with terrifying plans for world domination. Any similarity to ISIS is, presumably, entirely coincidental! The IMF believe they exist, but the CIA do not, so Hunt goes off on his own to try and expose the organisation. Along the way, he encounters a beautiful and dangerous agent (an excellent Rebecca Ferguson) who may, or may not, be trustworthy, since she both helps and hinders the mission to expose the leader of the Syndicate, played very creepily by Sean Harris.
The surprising thing about Rogue Nation is how fresh it feels, but all credit must go to the writers and producers for changing the format just enough for it to pass without seeming dated or old fashioned. The clever use of locations, such as high-tech London and traditional Vienna contrast and compliment nicely, and especially Morocco for a breathtaking car and motorbike chase sequence easily puts this Mission in the same league as recent Bond or Bourne outings. You may also be wondering if Tom Cruise has given himself an impossible mission with such a physically demanding script, but the celluloid evidence speaks for itself, with Tom looking quite at home with all the spy shenanigans.
The film doesn't forget its roots either, with some nice nods to Bruce Geller's original series. In one scene, Cruise receives his mission in an old music shop via vinyl record (just as Steven Hill and Peter Graves did numerous times in the TV series). Also present throughout is Lalo Schiffrin's original Mission: Impossible theme tune and "The Plot", carefully woven into Joe Kraemer's superb score. Even the title sequence bears much similarity to the TV series. Whether you are a fan of the original TV series, the film franchise, or just espionage thrillers in general, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation ticks all the boxes.
© 2018 Chris Sandles