Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (12A)
Running time 2hr 11mins
WHAT is Tom Cruise these days? He’s a million miles away from his heartthrob, teen-idol beginnings, when he was starring in iconic 80s flicks like Top Gun, Cocktail and Risky Business and featuring on girls’ bedroom walls. Segueing in 1988 into serious actor mode with his role in the Oscar-winning Rain Man, immediately followed by Vietnam veteran drama Born on the Fourth of July, he also found a gap in his career to impress us with his priceless comic turn in Hollywood send-up Tropic Thunder. But it’s in the action genre that he’s found his niche in latter years, whupping aliens in War of the Worlds, the system in futuristic action thriller Minority Report, deadly criminals in Jack Reacher and, of course, megalomaniac bad guys in the Mission: Impossible films. The latest in that franchise – the fifth in fact – sees Cruise picking up the mantle of super-spy Ethan Hunt once again. This time, he’s up against a nefarious syndicate intent on wiping out the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) and finds himself in all manner of highly-improbable and extremely-difficult-to-navigate situations that plonk him – and his colleagues – slap bang in the middle of harm’s way.
If there’s any of his films sold on action alone, it’s this. In fact, the marketing of Rogue Nation has almost entirely been built around Cruise’s propensity for doing his own stunts, arguably the most impressive of which can be seen in the film’s opening scene: Cruise clinging to the side of an aeroplane mid-take off. But look closely, and though M:I entertains with its action, it’s actually a bit more than simply a series of action set-pieces strung together. It’s got a great cast for a start – Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hollander all feature alongside the inherently chilling Sean Harris and kickass newcomer Rebecca Ferguson. There’s also Simon Pegg, of course, on hand to provide the light relief and act as a brilliant foil to Cruise’s otherwise serious, super-skilled espionage specialist.
The plot is deliciously overblown and if you’re tired of the conveyer belt of superhero stuff that drops into cinemas on a near-weekly basis, it’s an effective antidote. Watching ‘real’ people doing actual things a human can feasibly do (like staying balanced on a precarious lighting rig above a stage while an armed, trained assassin twice your size is beating the heck out of you) actually feels refreshing and though you might lose track of what’s happening, it really doesn’t matter.
This is what Hollywood blockbusters should be.