Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sit through the fifth - yes, fifth - ‘Mission: Impossible’ film. Ethan (Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) are still the squad dejour, and newbie Brandt (Jeremy Renner) has returned to the fold. Sick of their unorthodox methods that result in the very public destruction of international property, the brass - mainly CIA head Hunley (Alec Baldwin) - requests the dissolution of the IMF. Now working as a rogue nation Ethan, on the run from the CIA, must not only prove the existence of The Syndicate, an illusive anti-IMF, but also bring it down for him and his team to be reinstated.
Perhaps it was the writing, maybe the casting, or even Cruise himself accepting his mortality (not likely with the real life stunts he pulls off here), but I may be so bold as to declare that Tommy boy has been upstaged his fifth time around, by newcomer Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust. Never 100% sure what side she’s on, she does save Ethan’s life a time or two and she has some of the most incredible acrobatic ass-kicking skills ever seen. Let me assure you there is no damsel in distress here, nor was Rebecca cast for her ability to work a designer gown and killer heels - *cough* Paula Patton *cough* - although Ferguson does rock a citrus-coloured satin number and she removes her heels to fight and run, a move rarely - if ever - seen on film. You go girl!
Five times out of the gate we know all of MI’s tricks... double crosses, mask after mask after mask, and gadgetry to rival James Bond and Q - so why come back for more? Everything in ‘Rogue Nation’ has been stripped back. The gadgetry is almost non-existent and there are only two big stunt scenes, one involving a plane and the other water (we’ve all seen the trailer). But here’s the thing: neither of those stunts are the centrepiece to the film and with no tech to drool over, what’s left? Believe it or not, it’s a story, and one carried by its characters. ‘Rogue Nation’ doesn’t bog its audience down with a mountain of exposition or layer after layer of convoluted backstory, it’s plain and simple "Good guys try to bring down bad guys". There’s no confusion over who is good or who is bad, nor why they are who they are. The good guys are the good guys because they have been for four other films and the bad guy is the über-creepy looking dude who keeps killing everyone. Faster pussycat, kill, kill! Loyalty and good old-fashioned right and wrong is on the menu here... well, that and fast cars, motorbikes, gun fights, fist fights, chase sequences, bombs, and of course... the impossible, which always seems of be a cake-walk for these guys. But that’s why we love 'em.
With action to die for and a cast we know and love who still manage to grow and evolve without diminishing their strengths, this may not be the strongest of the MI films, but it’s certainly not the weakest. Five films and almost two decades on, bring on number six, I say.