Ben Oliver

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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

I’m not in the plane, I’m ON the plane! Open the door!
07 November 2015

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) & co. return for the fifth time in the Mission: Impossible franchise. This time the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) is disbanded at the request of the CIA, but as this happens in Washington D.C, Ethan Hunt is in London uncovering a plot to cock up the world. The IMF team must go off the record in order to stop the threat.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: they have to stop using the stupid magic mask thing so much. It’s not central to the plot this time but all you are thinking for 120 minutes is ‘is that really X or is he just wearing a mask?’. Yes, disguise is an important part of the franchise, but this is just lazy storytelling.

As ever there are some spectacular and original action scenes. The film has been heavily marketed on the premise that Cruise does a lot of his own stunts, but it’s not just a sales pitch, it’s something that really helps the film. CGI is great when you don’t notice it1, but so many films rely on it to completely render crucial scenes. Not so here. It’s an expensive route to take but a worthwhile one.

The supporting cast return, notably Ving Rhames & Simon Pegg. The close knit trio of friends proves to be a winning formula and the three actors strike up a convincing on-screen “we’ve been through lots of shit together” relationship.

As to ‘newcomers’ Sean Harris plays a suitably creepy villain, and Rebecca Ferguson gets to run with an interesting character caught between spy agencies. Something about her pierces through the camera; when paired with Tom Cruise it’s almost too much Hollywood-good-looks to handle (just kidding there’s never too much of that). Jeremy Renner (who was in the previous film) is caught in a sort of no-man’s land, not quite doing Cruise’s job, but not really given his own thing to do.

The plot is a thin frame upon which to hang some cool action scene ideas. This is a shame because it means that the stakes are low; 50% of what makes a good action film is some sort of emotional investment with what is happening. Sometimes this even develops as the scene unfolds, like with John Wick. Mission Impossible V makes no such attempt to get us interested.

With the exception of the pretty terrible Mission: Impossible II this has always been a solid if ultimately underwhelming series of films. Rogue Nation is no different; it’s an entertaining, well-made action film let down by a poorly thought-out, unsatisfying storyline.