Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: Film Review
Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Ving Rhames
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to allow a fifth film in the nearly 20 year old franchise starring Tom Cruise to force you to part with your hard-earned money.
This time around, with the IMF disavowed and disbanded thanks to Alec Baldwin's puffed up CIA boss getting his way, Ethan Hunt is a man on the run, believing a shadowy group known as The Syndicate is behind their demise.
Teaming up with Simon Pegg's comic relief Benji and trying to work out exactly who femme fatale Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) is working for, Ethan's got his work cut out.
Despite opening with the much-publicised stunt sequence that sees Cruise strapped to the outside of a plane, this latest Mission Impossible is surprisingly muted, preferring to concentrate on old school thrills (a line that was drawn in the sand in 2011's Ghost Protocol) and global set pieces rather than a coherently and fluidly running narrative.
It doesn't help that the head of the Syndicate Solomon Lane, played by Prometheus and 71 star Sean Harris, is a bit of a wet fish with hardly a jot of the menace needed for someone so detrimental to the IMF. Equally Baldwin's character goes too far the other way, decrying at one point that "Ethan Hunt is the manifestation of destiny", a line guaranteed to bring the guffaws and infamy in equal measure.
But when Reacher director McQuarrie concentrates on the group dynamic, it works reasonably well - and the mystery around Ilsa's character sustains a large part of the film, giving us a female lead that's as much about brains as it is beauty. By substantially beefing up Simon Pegg's tech wizz Benji to great dramatic effect, Cruise's Hunt has more of a partner than before. It's a shame to see that the latter part of the film lazily falls back on the comic relief role previously assigned to Pegg, derailing some of the dramatic work done and contributing to the tonal mis-match on display.
However, McQuarrie knows the old school reason for the Mission: Impossible films is in the gadgets and the stunts, and Rogue Nation is impressively mired in the retro touches and real world for its action sequences. From speeding around the streets of Casablanca, a fight at the Vienna Opera to a tense underwater sequence, this is not a film that relies on CGI thrills to pad the way and showcase its stars - if anything, Cruise's relatively sombre take on Hunt this time around is a sign that things are slightly more impossible than perhaps you would normally believe.
Which is why it's a shame that the story doesn't prop up the action perhaps in the way that you'd hope - it's there simply to help us globe trot from one sequence to the next and tonally, the film flips between action, overt comedy and covert caper with terrifying unease.
As a result, the tension in the central mystery just falls over and what emerges in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a solid entry into the series, but one that never fully thrills as much as it could.