TOM Cruise brings the hugely successful Mission: Impossible series back to the screens for a fifth time with Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, an expectedly action-packed work that though not as enjoyable as its predecessor, makes for rather entertaining viewing.
Beginning with one of the most heart-pounding sequences in recent cinema, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team, Benji, Brandt and Luther (Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames) are shown in Minsk attempting to retrieve a chemical weapons package from a plane. Getting nowhere and with the plane taking off, Hunt is forced but to jump onto the plane and literally hold onto the door as it takes off, a stunt that Cruise actually does himself. By escaping with the chemical package by attaching himself to it and then parachuting out, it is clear from this pre-credits sequence alone, that attempting to top the previous film, Ghost Protocol, for adrenaline rush is apparent.
In a throwback to the first film, Hunt finds himself alone and hunted in London following an encounter with a sinister assassin (Sean Harris) and barely escaping death with help from undercover agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). With the IMF disgraced and disbanded, six months pass before Hunt discreetly teams with his colleagues to locate the assassin, the leader of a murderous organization known as the Syndicate, in a mission which sees them travel to Austria, Morocco and London again.
Entertaining is a word that can describe this film, most notably thanks to several intense and engaging sequences in what is effectively action-packed from start to finish. As well as the intense pre-credits sequence, two sequences play as justification for the reliability of the recent Mission: Impossible films.
First, Hunt’s location for an assassin preparing to kill the German Chancellor in the backstage of the Vienna Opera House combines twisty suspense with an engaging backstage fight between Hunt and said assassin. Part of the sequence’s success lies in that instead of making it with just those two, the multiple involvement of other characters with varying motives pushes it up to the point where looking back, it is the film’s best sequence.
Second, an underwater sequence sees Hunt, Benji and Elsa break into a Moroccan power station with the intent of stealing a vital ledger located in the underwater section underneath. With Hunt having to hold his breath for a considerable time, the attempt to secure the ledger does not goes as straightforward resulting in a chilling segment where Hunt’s life is placed in danger arguably more than it has been beforehand. In one moment, Hunt is forced to choose with 50/50 odds which ledger to place in the system after previously dropping one of them, knowing the wrong one could result in Benji, going through security, being apprehended.
With an element of genuine intensity displayed often, this does place as proof that the scepticism surrounding Christopher McQuarrie being chosen as the film’s director might have been unfair. With his disappointing previous directorial efforts The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher, McQuarrie’s stance as a director had yet to be proven. With this however, a capability for providing suspense and enjoyment in a general manor for an action blockbuster, especially in today’s climate, has been delivered.
A situation occurs though where because these sequences turn out to be much more exciting to view, later scenes do not have the same intensity and lack the whole entertaining value than those before. A car chase that turns into a motorbike chase does not play as wholly gripping while the climactic cat-and-mouse game between Hunt and Harris’s vicious Solomon Lane is fairly impressive but also relatively overlong.
Between Rogue Nation and Ghost Protocol, the latter is better, both for story and action. While the plane, opera house and underwater scenes represent action at its most memorable, the fact that Ghost Protocol was more engaging and had a better story does make the franchise drop down a small step in terms of engrossment film-by-film.
By the end however, Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation does work as a generally impressive feature that proves Cruise is still deserving of his star status and that another Mission: Impossible film would not go amiss.