What It’s About
A slick, high-octane action-thriller, “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” puts the pedal to the metal to rival any James Bond and other summer blockbusters.
It’s an electrifying piece in the big picture that is the “Mission Impossible” film franchise. The fifth one features familiar characters, fetching new British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), nefarious bad guys called the Syndicate, never-ending menace and glorious views of a stunning Vienna.
While the action is slick and frenetic, most surprising is a clever script by director Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar for “The Usual Suspects”), who added humor in key situations and oomph to the formula, so we maintain interest in serious international terrorist danger.
The popular TV series that ran from 1966 to 1973 was a sophisticated spy series that won many Emmys and introduced us to the Impossible Mission Force. In 1995, the name and iconic theme song by Lalo Shifrin was relaunched as a hyperactive, state-of-the-art espionage thriller starring Tom Cruise as IMF agent extraordinaire Ethan Hunt.
When J.J. Abrams took over the third installment in 2006, that’s when the movie was supercharged with a terrifying ruthless villain (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and an elaborate plot that kept us on the edge of our seat, just like “Ghost Protocol,” the fourth film, did, with Brad Bird’s sharp direction.
In the latest adventure, produced by J.J. Abrams, our IMF team has been disbanded at the urging of CIA leader Hunley (Alec Baldwin), but civilization still is in peril. Well, they show him why they are needed as they attempt to thwart escalating terrorist acts. Hunt is undercover because he must save the world, cut off from his country, but able to work with some of his old gang.
Cruise is in remarkable shape at 53, and is invested in this role. His energy and intensity works well here. He handles the derring-do with aplomb as well as the single-mindedness regarding his mission.
The supporting cast is quite likable, with Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) in his zone as techno-whiz Benji Dunn and Ving Rhames’ (“Pulp Fiction”) welcome return as wingman Luther. Renner (“The Hurt Locker”), so good in “Ghost Protocol,” has a fairly standard role here as Brandt, stuck at CIA headquarters, but helps propel the action. Baldwin is blustery as the chief honcho, and Sean Harris (“The Borgias”) is a coolly creepy villain, Solomon Lane.
The latest female addition, Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”), is interesting as the whip-smart and confident Ilsa. You are not quite sure what to make of her as she convinces both friend and foe she is on their side. You are kept wondering, which adds to the intrigue.
Most of the set pieces are dazzling exhibits of world-class stunts, including a “Wow” opening involving a plane and a fast and furious motorcycle chase through the streets of Casablanca.
The cunning showdown between the noble Hunt and ominous Lane is strong, and Puccini in the Vienna Opera House is a highlight, too.
The movie relies heavily on the action pieces, but McQuarrie’s script has added touches of class to the story.
There will be a sixth one, as long as Cruise doesn’t find zealously playing an IMF agent isn’t risky business.
3 1/2 stars
out of 4
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity