Mission: Impossible fires back to life

By Thomas Simpson

It’s been almost 20 years since Mission: Impossible made its big screen debut. Adapted from the TV program of the same name, the franchise has become so popular that it eclipsed the show in terms of familiarity. When you think Mission: Impossible you think Tom Cruise, not Peter Graves. Cruise may look great for a man of 53 (he is Tom Cruise after all) but is he too old to be doing his own stunts? Don’t bet on it.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (or MI5) sees Tom Cruise return as Ethan Hunt for a fifth outing. He discovers that the Syndicate is real, a terrorist group that mirrors his own IMF team. Unfortunately for Hunt the IMF is shut down thanks to the CIA’s Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) and he finds himself classed as a rogue agent. He calls on his old team (comprised of Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) for assistance, also finding an unlikely ally in Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), an agent for the Syndicate whose motives remain unclear. Cue lots of running.

By introducing a new director for each installment it has prevented the Mission: Impossible series from going stale. Each film is distinctly familiar within the franchise yet unique in its own way. Christopher McQuarrie takes over as director as well as sharing a co-writing credit with Drew Pearce. All the spy techno babble and insane stunt work may have been done before but the stakes are consistently raised to keep audiences interested.

The opening scene, which by no doubt you’ll have seen by now, has Cruise dangling from a plane as it takes off. In this case they do strap Cruise to a plane and have it take off. McQuarrie delivers practical set-pieces so impressively that it only disappoints when CGI rears its head. Computer wizardry has its place, but at times it feels needless and saps the tension from a scene. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of suspenseful set-pieces to keep you occupied.

The biggest breath of fresh air this time around is Ferguson. There has been praise for her character and performance, all of it merited. Rather than throw another generic love interest at Hunt, Ferguson’s Faust serves a dual role as protagonist and antagonist.

There’s a fair amount of humor to prevent the film from being a moody and sombre affair, and it’s used wisely and efficiently. Renner takes more of a back seat this time round while Pegg is given more screen time, allowing the British actor time to shine.

Far from being the Tom Cruise show, he is still the focal point and once again he proves his star prowess as a Hollywood leading man. He can’t do it forever but as the IMF’s legendary Jim Phelps passed the torch in the first entry, the franchise may continue long after Ethan Hunt decides to enjoy retirement.

With talk of a sixth film following an impressive opening, our favorite IMF agent doesn’t appear ready to hang up his stirrups just yet. Which is good for fans as the series has produced another entertaining action film that does exactly what it says on the tin. It may be ridiculous and overblown but that’s part of the fun and fun is something Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation serves up in abundance.

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