It seems hard to believe that we are now on the fifth instalment in this franchise, and after 19 years it thankfully shows no signs of stopping. I should state that for me this is a hard film to review as I am a fan of the previous entries, and the latest plays it safe by sticking to the tried and tested formula of its predecessors.
Some reviewers are calling it the best entry in the franchise (which I can’t disagree with) and others have slated it for not adding anything new (which I also can’t disagree with). But for me the most important thing I want from any film is to be entertaining and fun, and this film definitely ticks both those boxes.
In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and crew have to take down the Syndicate, an elite and ungoverned ‘anti IMF (Impossible Missions Force)’ that has set out to change the world through global attacks and assassinations.
On top of that CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin, doing his best Team America (2004) impression) is set on dissolving the IMF due to their unregulated actions and the destruction of the Kremlin in the last film. So Hunt is on a personal and unsanctioned mission to find the leader of the Syndicate and to bring down the organisation, recruiting the usual subjects in a globetrotting mission full of great and memorable set pieces.
If you are a fan of the previous films then you know what to expect and this film doesn’t disappoint. We have a host of cool gadgets, international espionage, misdirection, witty dialogue, lashings of violence and over the top set pieces which are thrilling and fantastic.
It feels tighter in terms of script and pacing but ultimately doesn’t add much new to the franchise’s formula.
This formulaic approach is both its strength and weakness. I have written before that audiences like seeing what they have seen before but slightly different. Half way through the film I realised that this film is like re-visiting your favourite theme park. It’s full of the same thrills that keep you returning, and every now and then there is a new ride which is equally thrilling yet seems familiar.
New elements in this film include the fact that the team are operating by themselves and as such their mission seems more personal and dangerous, as both the Syndicate and the CIA are trying to hunt them down, which all adds to the suspense.
But what stood out for me is Rebecca Ferguson’s character, Isla Faust, a mysterious double agent whose motivations remain undisclosed throughout the majority of the film. Smart and sexy, she is Hunt’s equal aiding the team but at any point could turn on them. Faust is a stand out character and I would like to see her return in a future instalment.
Simon Pegg makes a welcome return as comic relief Benji and his chemistry with Cruise is fantastic as the vulnerable geek vs the (seemingly) immortal super spy.
As you would imagine this is Tom Cruise’s movie. He has a Bono effect in the public eye: a lot of people hate him due to his smug outspokenness and all the scientology preaching, but a lot of people still love his films including this reviewer. Just like the other Mission: Impossible films we see him run around a lot, ride a motorbike, take his shirt off and do a lot of his own stunts, which in the age of CGI is refreshing and great to see; especially considering that he’s 53 years old!
Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames also return and have more to do in this film than in the last, and the door is left open for all to return.
However, it’s a shame that all of the villains in these films don’t seem that scary or threatening and take second fiddle to Cruise and co. Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane is more of a smart, calculated and sinister villain rather than a physical presence, which is a welcome juxtaposition to Hunt.
Yes, we know Hunt will save the day but it always seems a bit cat and mouse in these films, where the mouse is also friends with a dog.
As with its predecessors everyone is staying one step ahead of each other and the plot is muddled to say the least if you are trying to keep up. It’s confusing yet simple as Hunt has to stop the bad guy via ever changing plans and clues. I guess this is supposed to make the plot unpredictable, but we all know what will happen: at some point Benji will be kidnapped, Hunt will use the villain’s plan against him, rubber masks will be involved and just like most cartoons and sitcoms, everything will be the same by the end as it was at the start.
Despite it’s sometimes dark tone this film refuses to take itself seriously and all for the better. The action is great; it’s smart and stylish and keeps the audience engrossed as these scenes drive the narrative.
In comparison this entry seems more like a Bond film, especially with its London elements, and there were some unintentional laughs when I saw this with a British audience.
The only downsides for me are the ending, which wasn’t as exciting as some of the earlier action sequences, and there was too much product placement. Another gripe one could make is that despite how intricately the missions seem to be planned, logic is virtually non-existent in this film: but I don’t care as this film gets so much right with what you want from a spy flick.
Just like Fast and Furious, Bond or any other cinematic franchise this film sticks to its guns and it works. This is a great entry in the series due to its tight script, great action, real stunts, fun chemistry between all the stars, consistent thrills and its well-placed humour.
Overall Verdict: It’s more of the same: a confusing plot, exotic locations, over the top scenarios, great action and most importantly it’s a lot of fun. It’s similar to the last 3 films in the series which is in no way a bad thing, and I’m already looking forward to part 6.
Reviewer: George Elcombe