The deep cover spy agency known as the IMF faces total disbandment in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth installment of the action thriller movie series.
From its start as a TV show in 1966, Mission: Impossible has always centred on the extreme pressure of the ticking clock – the urgent deadline to stop deadly plots. And so it is here. That threat is from an organisation known as The Syndicate, consisting of an impenetrable, exquisitely-trained group of renegade spies that have left behind their countries to pursue their own agenda. So, they are mercenaries, pure and simple, intent on destabilising governments and nations. The Syndicate has long been rumoured to be simply a wild-eyed myth among spies. But Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has just uncovered the unwelcome truth, although the CIA doesn’t buy it and casts him aside. Before this is over, he and his team’s loyalty will be tested time and again. Hunt will be put through the physical and emotional ringer in what will become a test of endurance and will.
While the previous film in the series, Ghost Protocol, saw Hunt transforming from a lone wolf into a team leader, now he must hone his newfound leadership skills under fire. Hunt must keep the IMF team from fraying, even while he’s trying to protect the world from the evil intent of The Syndicate. It is about the complications of friendship when pressure is applied, about who and who not to trust.
With him again are Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg as the bumbling gadget guy, and Ving Rhames.
The head of the CIA is played by Alec Baldwin, while also joining the cast are Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) as the mysterious Ilsa Faust and Sean Harris (Prometheus) as the evil Solomon Lane. Faust’s character is arguably the most interesting. She is an alluring super secretive spy that appears to be playing both sides and with whom Hunt forms an undeniable attachment.
As in the recent Mad Max and Jurassic World films, here we have a female character that can more than hold her own against the very best of the men. Like Hunt, Faust is cool under pressure, can drive like the clappers and kick ass like few others. Her character is engaging and works well.
Overall though, I wanted to like Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation more than I ended up doing so. While I particularly appreciated the humour in Ghost Protocol, save for a few moments this latest chapter didn’t have as good a vibe. Perhaps it was simply that the comedy was more sign posted, more obvious. I vividly recall one line from Baldwin that drew derision from the audience.
The plot became downright convoluted, going down one rabbit hole after another, so just when you thought you got a handle on things, another thread unraveled. While that can be a clever device, in this case it became frustrating and served to unnecessarily elongate the script so as to test one’s patience and fortitude.
Christopher McQuarrie, who worked with Cruise when he produced and co-wrote Valkyrie and again in his directorial debut on Jack Reacher and once more in scripting for Edge of Tomorrow, gets screenwriting and directorial credits here. As is to be expected from an espionage thriller, the exotic locales and settings are a feature, the chase sequence at breakneck speed is all but mandatory and the baddie is an especially insidious individual. In fact, there is nothing even remotely likeable about Solomon Lane, so Sean Harris deserves plaudits for his characterisation.
So, while Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, rated M, packs a wallop, it fails to deliver a knockout blow, rather becoming punch drunk and scores a 6½ out of 10.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television