The best Mission: Impossible since the original, Rogue Nation does not disappoint.
Setting a high bar with an already widely-publicized pre-credits sequence where a presumably 53 year-old Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hangs off the side of slowly ascending plane, #5 packs in the obligatory daring heist sequence, nonplussed CIA director (Alec Baldwin playing to form) and the alternately confused, self-confident, adrenaline-ridden super-agent first seen in Prague 19 years ago.
Checking in through the traditional telephone-box in one of many nods to the original, Hunt and his trusted team (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg) track down a shady organization called ‘The Syndicate,’ readily described by Benji as an ‘anti-IMF,’ a rogue team of assassins and ex-agents hell-bent on causing havoc. Joining the fray is Ilsa Faust (Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson); a very welcome addition to the series, whose screen presence, unclear motives and unique set of skills (a match for Hunt’s) drives much of the action and plot twists throughout the film.
Between them, Hunt and Faust traverse the UK, Morocco and Austria trying to figure out just who’s loyal to who and uncover the real driving force behind the syndicate. The producer’s obvious nostalgia for the TV-series and the cinema of decades-gone is laden-thick, not least of all during a sequence back-stage at the Viennese Opera involving Puccini’s famed Turandot aria ‘Nessun Dorma,’ none of which takes away from a high-tech and very modern thriller.
A more densely-scripted and complex thriller than the previous three entries, Mi5 is readily reminiscent of the Le Carre adaptations and some of Hitchcock’s greater spy sagas with a constantly-evolving plot, betrayal at the highest levels of government and a sense that you’re in some of the most impenetrable espionage territory where you regularly have to re-evaluate just who are the good guys.
Sure, it tests the bounds of physics and believability. Why, after careening off a cliff edge, did the motorcycle then explode? Why is there no increased security for the British Prime Minister after the very recent assassination of the head of a major European nation? Why can’t tech-wiz Benji provide Ethan a breathing apparatus when he is able to affix an electronic clock to his wetsuit explaining just how much oxygen Ethan has left? Why does Alec Baldwin, who’s probably gone off script, tell everyone that Hunt is “the manifestation of destiny?”
But none of it matters; Rogue Nation is a sumptuous action film that didn’t feel the need to appear overly ironic, nor rely entirely on CGI over the now lesser-utilized visual-effects and stunt-work which distinguishes Mi5 from so many modern releases.
A hugely entertaining cinema outing which took a well-judged risk on a new talent, Rogue Nation is a gratifying two hours for action fans anywhere and a phenomenal way to introduce Ferguson to a round of future casting-calls.