Tom Cruise put through the mill in this impressive, adrenalin-fuelled confection that shows the 19-year-old Mission Impossible franchise still has legs
This fifth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise has many of the same characteristics of its star – muscular, confident, unapologetic and evergreen.
Say what you like about 53-year-old Tom Cruise – and many have said many things – he is one of the few leads who can stand against epic IMAX backdrops and feature in high octane set pieces and still command the screen.
The fact he performs many of the stunts not only allows us to admire his guts (literally and figuratively) but also means the director can eschew digital enhancement and get in close for that extra adrenalin hit.
This latest outing – Rogue Nation – is a classy piece of work. There are not one but three (or maybe four or five) audacious sequences to match the iconic and much parodied Ethan-Hunt-on-a-rope thrill ride of the first (1996 would you believe?)
A shoot-out at the Viennese opera (a rousing Nessun Dorma as soundtrack) is a masterclass in timing and suspense while an underwater sequence in a cooling array had me gasping for air in sympathy with the breathless hero.
All credit then to Christopher McQuarrie (Edge Of Tomorrow) and his team of writers who keep the twinkle in the eye when the rhetoric edges towards the pompous.
Much of the fun is snaffled up by Benji, played by Simon Pegg, the go-to guy for action flick comic relief. (“Join IMF. See the world. In a monitor. In a closet.”)
Hunt and Benji are a double act for most of the film with Jeremy Renner fighting the suits in Washington (personified by CIA boss Alec Baldwin) and Ving Rhames offering little more than a cameo treading on Benji’s techie toes with a few tricks of his own.
The story involves the shadowy Syndicate. Washington thinks this evil terror organisation is a figment of Hunt’s imagination, conjured up to give him something to do.
That’s the least of his problems. In an age of oversight and transparency, the unaccountable IMF is an anachronism and a threat so he becomes the target of both of Baldwin’s goons and the Syndicate, fronted by rasping, rat faced assassin Solomon Lane (Bethnal Green’s own Sean Harris).
The gooseberry in the Hunt/Benji twosome, with loyalties as flexible as her killer legs, is Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), British agent or ruthless traitor, depending on the weather.
(Benji: “She tried to shoot me!” Hunt: “That doesn’t make her a bad person.”)
Hunt’s mission, should he choose to accept it (spoiler alert, he does) is to track down the cunning and formidable Lane while evading the clutches of the equally rapacious CIA.
This takes him to Morocco, Vienna and a whole lot of familiar London.
For your money, you get 131mins of beautifully timed, perfectly pitched thriller action, underpinned by a script that rises comfortably above the brain-dead norm.
Like Ethan Hunt on a wobbly lighting rig above a boisterous production of Turandot, this movie rarely puts a foot wrong.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation | (12A) 117mins | ★★★★★