Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

 

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The fifth installment in the M:I franchise does not disappoint. In fact, it’s the best chapter 

yet.

 

Part of the success of the Mission: Impossible franchise is that each instalment has been packaged by a different director. So, after Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird, we now have Christopher McQuarrie. McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for his screenplay to The Usual Suspects, has only directed three movies in fifteen years: the breathless and stylish The Way of the Gun (2000), the thrilling and smart Jack Reacher (2012) and now this. And he doesn’t disappoint.

 

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

High jinks - with a Tom Cruise lookalike

 

From the electrifying prologue – in which Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt boards a plane mid-flight – to all sorts of outlandish shenanigans in London, Vienna and Casablanca, the film is the embodiment of escapist cinema. But no sooner has the secret agent Hunt – of the clandestine Impossible Missions Force – waylaid a consignment of nerve gas, than he finds that he is outlawed by the CIA. All this due to the interception of a shadowy organisation calling itself The Syndicate. The Syndicate would seem to be every bit as efficient as the IMF, albeit with a less charitable agenda. And so, as he strives to avert a succession of terrorist atrocities, Hunt is forced to act on his own: while being hunted by both the CIA and The Syndicate. He has an ally in Simon Pegg’s intelligence analyst Benji Dunn and, more mysteriously, an ambiguous agent called Ilsa Faust (Sweden's Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be working for The Syndicate, the British government or somebody else entirely. It’s a delicate relationship.

 

Ms Ferguson, who made her name in the BBC’s The White Queen, bears a striking resemblance to Ingrid Bergman and what with Casablanca and Paris making welcome appearances, one almost expects her to walk into a joint called Rick's Café Américain. There’s a more blatant allusion to classic cinema in a sequence that takes place during a production of Puccini’s Turandot in Vienna – where an assassination is to take place – a direct homage to Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (last paid tribute to by Eugenio Mira's Grand Piano, released in 2014). This is a thrilling sequence with a beautiful pay-off, one of a whole slew of phenomenal action set-pieces. In fact, it’s just one damned thing after another, be it an underwater race against time, a sensational motorcycle chase in Morocco, or a face-off with the British prime minister (Tom Hollander).

 

To add to the spice, there’s a deliciously psychotic villain in the guise of Sean Harris, some welcome comic relief supplied by Simon Pegg and special effects and gadgets to knock your socks off. Even at 131 minutes, the film zips along, replete with surprises and spectacle, and guaranteeing a sixth instalment in the not-too-distant future (tentatively called M:I 6 - Mission Impossible). If Spectre, the new James Bond film, is anywhere near as good, it will prove to be a vintage year for the genre of the spy epic.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Simon McBurney, Jingchu Zhang, Tom Hollander.

 

Dir Christopher McQuarrie, Pro Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger, Screenplay Christopher McQuarrie, Ph Robert Elswit, Pro Des James D. Bissell, Ed Eddie Hamilton, Music Joe Kraemer, Costumes Joanna Johnston.

 

Bad Robot Productions/Skydance Productions/Cruise/Wagner Productions/China Movie Channel/Alibaba Pictures-Paramount Pictures.

131 mins. USA/China. 2015. Rel: 30 July 2016. Cert. 12A.