Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (4 stars)

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Hugely entertaining fifth instalment of the Tom Cruise-fronted espionage franchise

Almost 20 years after he first appeared in rebooted spy classic Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise is back for his fifth outing as Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt. This time he’s on the trail of nefarious organisation the Syndicate, a task made more difficult when the IMF is dissolved by the CIA. But when Ethan comes up against the mysterious Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) and shadowy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) – both adversaries and kindred spirits – he may finally have met his match.

For a story concerned with operating outside the law, Rogue Nation sticks firmly to the rules that have built this franchise: jaw-dropping action, ingenious gadgets and very little in the way of narrative nuance. The fast-paced screenplay from writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (who devised the story with Drew Pearce) uses the labyrinthine world of global espionage as a framing device to showcase Cruise’s endlessly watchable movie-star charm, which he provides in spades.

Elsewhere, Simon Pegg gets more to do as tech-whizz Benji and, while Jeremy Renner’s Brandt and Ving Rhames’ Luther spend much of the film on the sidelines, they make for an undeniably great team. The real revelation here is Ferguson (previously seen in Hercules and TV's The White Queen), whose striking similarity to Casablanca legend Ingrid Bergman is none-too-subtly referenced by her character’s name and the significance of Morocco. Nevertheless, to the film’s great credit, Ilsa is no mere love interest; she drives a great deal of the narrative and shoulders much of the action. True, she may dress in variations of skin-tight leather and thigh-high splits, but she is a strong female character, the likes of which are rarely seen in such blockbusters.

Ultimately, however, this is Cruise’s rodeo and, while Ethan’s crisis of confidence gives the character some depth, he is first and foremost a stylish action hero. Rogue Nation, too, is slick, accomplished and hugely entertaining, another slice of glorious mayhem from a franchise that continues to play to its strengths and deliver the goods.

General release from Thu 30 Jul.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 2h 11min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg
  • UK release: 30 July 2015

Ethan (Cruise) and the gang are on the trail of the nefarious Syndicate when their unit is dissolved by the CIA. With jaw-dropping action, ingenious gadgets and a striking performance from Ferguson as the mysterious Ilsa, this is a a slick, accomplished and hugely entertaining slice of mayhem.