– Offering more evidence that Tom Cruise is the industry’s greatest action star, the fifth installment of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series, ROGUE NATION, displays the now 53-year-old in relentless acts of athletic derring-do and once again showcases his indefatigable boyish charm to offer a late-summer cinematic confection that is, uh, impossible to resist.
Cruise by no means lifts this franchise to new heights by himself; he’s aided tremendously by the CGI-de-emphasized, stunning action sequences, a smart script that doesn’t rely on pyrotechnics, and a disarming damsel who steals nearly every scene in which she appears.
The Impossible Missions Force, now disbanded and folded into the CIA thanks to its purported irrelevancy and haphazard nature, must act covertly. Its best agent, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), is on the run and in hiding—a familiar theme in the Bourne and Bond films, no doubt. The requisite globe-trotting takes Hunt and his team through Belarus, Cuba, Paris, and lands them in London in order to track down Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Lane, the raspy-throated and nasty boss of the terrorist organization The Syndicate was first mentioned in the closing sequences of the last MI, 2011’s terrific GHOST PROTOCOL. Hunt’s accomplices include Brandt (Jeremy Renner, underused here), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames).
Among the highlights: A cat-and-mouse assassination attempt magnificently choreographed during a performance of TURANDOT at the Vienna Opera House, a breathtaking, lung-busting underwater heist at a Moroccan power station, and a pulse-pounding speed bike chase sequence that involves a spectacularly-filmed BMW car crash.
Perhaps the nicest surprise is the appearance of newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (HERCULES) as double-agent Ilsa (so named as a nod to where she and Hunt first meet, Casablanca). She more than holds her own with Cruise in beauty, brawn, and personality.
Director and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie has proven himself with Cruise on a much smaller budget (JACK REACHER), and has plenty of top-notch screenwriter credits (LIVE DIE REPEAT: EDGE OF TOMORROW, X-MEN: THE USUAL SUSPECTS) making him that rare Hollywood double threat. No doubt we will see more of his admirable talents.
While ROGUE NATION is perfectly paced, it is a little long-ish and the ending feels a bit anti-climactic. Except for the dud second installment – a sophomore jinx perhaps – this franchise appears as healthy as ever.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief nudity.