The fifth film is the franchise is something of throwback to the first one. Perhaps its the extended sequences in London, or just the deliberate tone set by writer and director Christopher McQuarrie, but there is a warm nostalgia in amongst all the fake smog drifting across the streets.
The action begins with Ethan and his team doing what they do best. Benji (Simon Pegg) is quite literally out in the field, once again observing the action from a computer screen. His lack of action becomes a (non)-running gag throughout the course of the movie. Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames) continue to direct operations from afar too as we await the arrival of Cruise.
Sure enough, in he runs pelting at full speed down a runway to catch a plane that is about to take-off. This leads to the best moment in the film, and it occurs within the first five minutes of it beginning. That’s not intended as a slight, the scene in question will go down as one of the best of the year and a highlight of the series for sure.
You’ve already seen some of it, but the visual impact of Tom Cruise (not his stunt double, remember, but the ACTUAL Tom Cruise) holding on for dear life as an aircraft takes off inducing stomach-churning vertigo in even the most hardened of viewers, is utterly astounding.
The all-singing, all-dancing, all-hanging-off-the-side-of-a-plane action hero is at his best when trying to prove he is still the world’s biggest film star. And you know what? He probably still is.
From this point, the IMF is dissolved thanks to the political manoeuvring of a CIA bigwig played by Alec Baldwin.
This leaves Hunt as a wanted man, something which is exacerbated by the revelation that there is an ‘anti-IMF’ group operating around the globe on its own nefarious agenda. The self-proclaimed ‘Rogue Nation’, a collective of former agents from around the world, are led by a mysterious Brit played by mysterious Brit Sean Harris.
Along the way, Hunt meets Isla (Rebecca Ferguson) who may or may not be able to assist in bringing down the bad guys.
Ethan Hunt is an oddly sexless action hero. Having married Michelle Monaghan’s character in Mission Impossible 3, Hunt can’t really do anything more than make casual conversation with members of the opposite sex. This would be a real positive step in the world of movies, especially when compared to the notorious womanising ways of some other globe-trotting secret agents, except that Hunt’s marriage has been almost entirely erased from the memory banks of those on screen. It leaves Hunt in a bizarre limbo of being given a potential love interest, but nothing really happening.
This too is a throwback to the first film, where despite some posturing that suggested romance, nothing happened between Emanuelle Beart and Cruise. The constant changing of female characters from film to film, while the male cast seem to hang on, does feel particularly off-putting for some reason.
Anyway, as the action continues we take in a spectacular car/bike chase through the streets of Casablanca which follows a long and not entirely necessary underwater heist.
There then follows a dubiously extended finale in London, which just feels very slapdash in execution. Harris rarely does anything more that do his trademark vocal straining and Pegg inserts himself into the livelier moments as a comedy sidekick with over-the-top reactions. Benji is basically Chris Tucker from the Rush Hour movies… take that as you will.
In order to avoid spoilers, we won’t go into too many details, but yes… you will get to see Big Ben, red telephone boxes and some very posh English acting.
When the film focuses on Cruise, and lets him get on with what he does best, it’s an unbeatable juggernaut of a movie.
All they need to do for the next one – and there will be a next one – is shed a few of the peripheral male cast and, dare I suggest it, hire a female director?