Film Review – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

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Now five films in and two decades old, the Mission Impossible series doesn’t appear to be running out of steam. Tom Cruise certainly seems to enjoy dipping back into the role of IMF head Ethan Hunt and one suspects the series will continue to trundle on as long as his appetite holds out. The output has been something of a mixed bag from a group of films that has evolved from a slick if somewhat jumbled opening, to an arguably more light-hearted and knowing affair. On the evidence of its fifth instalment, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, we’re likely to see Cruise scaling more buildings, hanging off more aeroplanes and generally continuing to act like a maniac.

Fifth time out and Christopher McQuarrie takes over as both director and screenwriter. The IMF has been officially disbanded by Alec Baldwin’s CIA chief following the events of the previous film with Hunt, on the trail of a sinister terrorist network called the Syndicate, pronounced a rogue agent. Hunt believes he can track down the Syndicate but this means roping his old team in to help him with the job, all the while attempting to avoid the US authorities who are keen to bring him in.

Rogue Nation steams straight out of the gate with an enormous set piece that sets the tone of a film that barrels along from one action sequence to another. Clinging to the side of an aircraft, Cruise hurtles through the air while teammate Benji (Simon Pegg) forlornly attempts to open the door for him. You’ve got to admire Cruise’s commitment to the role in a scene that is visually stunning and peppered with the sort of gags that have become a calling card for the films following Brad Bird’s tenure.

Trotting around the globe, taking in a hatful of exotic locations: Vienna, Morocco and London to name a few, Rogue Nation is a witty and breathless blast of near non-stop action. There’s some genuinely exciting creativity to the action and it’s engrossing to see Cruise continue throwing himself into such a physical role. Disappointingly, the explosions, chases and fist fights aren’t linked together with anything like to necessary amount of invention in terms of scripting. Narrative drive or invention feels like something of an afterthought for the first two-thirds, with some of the dialogue becoming absolutely hysterical during the final act.

Pegg and Jeremy Renner slip into their roles again with a sense of ease; although this time round the quantity of Pegg’s panicky quipping has increased while its quality has decidedly decreased. Sean Harris as the breathy Syndicate chief lacks something of the gravitas that Philip Seymour Hoffman once brought to the party, and his is a performance that, whilst physically engaging, lacks a sense of vim that sums of much of the film.

There’s something lacking in terms of narrative invention here, but as far as sheer visual spectacle goes, you’ll get what you came for.

Chris Banks

Action, Thriller | USA, 2015 |12 | Paramount Pictures | 30th July 2015 (UK) | dir.Christopher McQuarrie | Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Simon Pegg, America Olivo, Sean Harris, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin