One thing I love about the Mission Impossible series of films is that it is a deliberate choice to switch directors each film, thus ensuring a fresh take on the franchise with each outing. This also means that if an entry is bad (I’m looking at you, MI:2), you can still be optimistic about the next film. Another thing I love is that there seems to be no rush to churn out films, but more a determination to only commit to one when the story and players are all in place. This is the fifth entry in 20 years, which considering most franchises reach number 5 in under a decade, is quite impressive. And, boy, what an entry in the series we have.
Rogue Nation starts with that action set piece that has been all over the promotion. You know, with the plane and Tom Cruise (as Ethan Hunt) hanging onto the side. Yup, what everyone thought was the big stunt being given away in a trailer actually turned out to be a pre- credit bit of fun to get the film started. What follows is an intrigue fuelled tale of double agents, betrayalm and the disbanded IMF trying to bring down an organisation that nobody believes exists.
Christopher McQuarrie, who worked with Cruise on the much overlooked Jack Reacher, takes the reins as writer and director this time, and turns out a very slick, almost retro, spy drama which could very well act as a calling card for the next Bond film. Similar to how the first film delved into a lot of the double play and intrigue, so too does this, which is refreshing after the fun but forgettable antics in Ghost Protocol. This is a film which will bear the scrutiny of repeat watch to look for the twists and turns throughout. It is also smart with the use of action to break the drama and tension at just the right moments. These action breaks are well composed, from walkway fights above an opera stage, to a high speed chase through streets and mountains. Not forgetting that these sequences and stunts are made all the more thrilling thanks to the determination of Cruise to do nearly all his own stunts, thus allowing for close up shots which the use of stunt men would hinder.
The support cast of Pegg, Renner, and Rhames make a welcome return, whilst Rebecca Ferguson adds some feminine charm and action as a rogue agent who may or may not be on Hunt’s side. But it is the welcome addition of Alec Baldwin as CIA director Alan Hunley that really adds the icing to the cake, as he thunders into every scene with the prime intention of stealing it from those around him. The only weak link is Sean Harris, who sadly doesn’t really have much of a screen presence as Solomon Lane, the main villain of the piece, and just doesn’t have enough menace to be a believable threat to Hunt’s team.
That minor niggle aside, though, Rogue Nation is another strong entry in a franchise that has only had one serious mis-step so far, and is definitely one of the highlights of what has generally been a lacklustre summer of disappointments.