Review – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Stars: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Certificate: 12A (implied torture and occasional knife fighting)
Running Time: 131 mins
Release Date: 30th July 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation opens with Tom Cruise hanging onto the outside of an aeroplane, in the scene which has formed the cornerstone of the film’s marketing material. It is the very best kind of introductory sequence – even if you haven’t seen any of the previous Missions Impossible, by the end of it you’ll know exactly where everything stands. You’ll understand the dynamic of the team (Cruise is the plane-hopping daredevil, Pegg the permanently awed computer genius, Renner the long-distance observer in an office somewhere), be on board with the film’s approach to practical rather than effects-based stuntwork, and have Lalo Schifrin’s iconic score stuck in your head. It’s a great bit of writing and filmmaking, which also manages to match anything that Furious 7 had to offer in terms of tension and energetic silliness. Even more impressively, Rogue Nation manages to maintain the level for a good while longer, with a great twist and a couple of interesting new characters following in quick succession. For the first hour or so, I was enraptured

Unfortunately, Rogue Nation is unable to maintain those standards all the way through. The twists become convolutions, the fantastic practical stunt work is undermined by one particularly ludicrous piece of car-backflipping, and the pace slows to a crawl. Despite not being an especially long film, the latter stages make it feel long, and desperately in need of having twenty minutes and at least one plot twist shorn from the running time

Despite that, the goodwill built up during the first half is enough to carry things over the line. It helps that it’s comfortably the funniest film of the Mission: Impossible canon – well, with the possible exception of John Woo’s M:I2, but it’s intentional this time. The patter between Cruise and Pegg approaches buddy cop territory at times, and even Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames get in on the action with a nice line in old married couple-style bickering. Moreover, Christopher McQuarrie’s script is always ready to poke gentle fun at the very idea of Cruise as an action star – enemy henchmen tower over his 5′ 7″ frame at every opportunity, and there are at least a few sly digs at his advanced age in there somewhere. It’s a formula that worked well for McQuarrie’s Edge of Tomorrow last year, and it’s a hit again here

Like Edge of Tomorrow, another interesting aspect is the introduction of a strong female lead – like Emily Blunt before her, Rebecca Ferguson at times threatens to outshine Cruise completely. Her highly trained, undercover double-or-possibly-triple agent is the most interesting thing in the film, and has potential to be the most interesting thing in the next few films in the series. If McQuarrie stays on board, and perhaps learns how many endangered heads of state is too many endangered heads of state for one film, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a sixth and absolutely no reason I wouldn’t watch the heck out of it

Our Verdict: 7/10


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