Release Date: 30 July 2015
Running Time: 131 Min
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames
For almost 20 years Tom Cruise has fronted the Mission: Impossible series, running towards danger at full speed (and with ludicrously high knees) in the role of super spy Ethan Hunt. The franchise’s longevity is almost as surprising as Cruise’s Dorian Grey-like ability to resist the ageing process. While the secrets for his youthful looks will probably remain a mystery forever, the reason for these films’ continued success is clearer; follow the tried and tested formula, while upping the ante each time.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation succeeds in the first half of the game plan. The hyper-realistic latex masks, the mysterious and inconsequential MacGuffin and the elaborate break-ins to seemingly impenetrable locations are all present and correct and as entertaining as ever. It’s less successful when it attempts to raise the stakes however. Having battled arms dealers and foiled a nuclear armageddon in previous outings, here Hunt and his IMF team of regulars are pitted against The Syndicate, a group of rogue agents intent on wiping them out. A team of evil doppelgängers feels very Fast and Furious 6 and could have been fun, but we’re left with an infuriating case of tell don’t show, with everyone intent on explaining how dangerous they are, without ever getting to really see it.
Further questions are raised by the interchangeable roles for women within the franchise. With Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner all returning for at least the second time, it remains a mystery why a female cast member has never reprised their role. While often shown to be just as capable in the ass-kicking department as their male counterparts, they are usually relegated to the role of honeytrap for some lecherous target. Rebecca Ferguson offers something in the way of progress. Her rival agent represents an equal to Hunt in terms of skill, and as a character her arc is the most interesting. Shame then that director Christopher McQuarrie wasn’t committed enough to leave some unnecessary, leery shots of her in a state of undress on the cutting room floor where they belong.
Despite the action not reaching the heights of the vertigo-inducing climb of the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol, the villain not being as intensely evil as Philip Seymour Hoffman in M:I3, and espionage lacking the satisfying complexity of the first film, Rogue Nation represents a decent addition to the Mission: Impossible canon. These elements represent the best of the five films so far, and while nothing here reaches their lofty heights, what it does deliver is absolutely everything expected from a Mission:Impossible film. No more than that certainly, but enough to make for a very watchable summer blockbuster.