Ethan Hunt and gang are up to their usual espionage high jinks in Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation. These are, it must be said, rather entertaining high jinks; certainly on a par with the last instalment, Ghost Protocol. Director Christopher McQuarrie continues in the vein set by his predecessor Brad Bird, by making this spy caper a breathless blast of jolly good fun.
After an enjoyably silly opening stunt involving Hunt (Tom Cruise) dangling from a from a Hercules as it takes off, the proper plot soon kicks in as the Impossible Missions Force come into contact with The Syndicate: a kind of anti-IMF. Hunt’s pals from the previous movie William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are back, along with prior IMF alumni Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames). CIA big cheese Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is also thrown into the mix, as he hopes to absorb the loose-cannon IMF into the CIA fold. There’s a splendid villain in the form of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), and also a mysterious wild card Ilsa Faust (the excellent Rebecca Ferguson). Guessing her true allegiance is, of course, part of the fun.
And fun is what this film is all about. There is nothing dark or brooding about it, thank goodness. It is simply a series of extremely enjoyable action set pieces, some of which contain properly Hitchcockian, nail-chewing suspense. Two moments in particular – one involving an assassination at the Vienna Opera, another involving a hold-your-breath underwater heist – are absolute stand-outs.
The cast are all good, and McQuarrie handles the action stuff very well, making good, glamorous use of locations including Casablanca and London, as well as the afore-mentioned Vienna. In addition to action it has wit to spare, and even though it perhaps goes on a smidgeon too long during the finale, that can be easily forgiven.
Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation isn’t going to win Oscars or end up on any lists of the greatest films ever made. And obviously it is utter nonsense. But did I mention it was great fun?