‘Cruise-ing’ to another level . . .

Mission Impossible
Mission Impossible

FILM REVIEW: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (12A)

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: TOM CRUISE, REBECCA FERGUSON, JEREMY RENNER, SIMON PEGG, SEAN HARRIS, ALEC BALDWIN, VING RHAMES, SIMON McBURNEY, JENS HULTEN, HERMIONE CORFIELD & TOM HOLLANDER

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 11 MINS

DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE

Love him or loathe him, ‘The Cruiser’ just seems to get better with age – as he takes the Mission: Impossible franchise to the next level.

To the ‘next level’ might not be quite what it seems in terms of innovation – as it’s actually simply ‘more of the same’ from Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and co.

But several lavish nerve-jangling set-pieces (including the breathtaking opening filmed at nearby RAF Wittering) serves up a seriously satisfying helping of action.

It may have moved away from the spy roots of the first film and complex interaction of the series-revitalising Ghost Protocol, but provides high-octane action more akin to John Woo’s II and JJ Abrams (under-rated and still my personal fave) III, in the M:I canon.

Cruise is back as kick-ass agent Ethan Hunt – accepting his most ‘improbable’ mission yet as leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) – this time going ‘off the grid’ as all operations of the team are shut down at the behest of CIA chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), after numerous acts of recklessness.

This gives him precious time to investigate the existence of a mysterious ‘Spectre’ type organisation, known as the Syndicate, a multi-national group of highly-skilled ex-operatives led by Sean Harris’ (Prometheus) gravely-voiced ruthless leader Solomon Lane, bent on malicious political acts for their own gain – and destroying the IMF.

As Hunt is aided/double-crossed and back again, by mysterious British Secret Service agent Ilsa Faust (Swedish actress to a British mother Rebecca Ferguson), he and team members Benji Dunn (Pegg), William Brandt (Renner) and Luther Stickell (Rhames), try to stay out of the headlights of the CIA – in locales from London to Casablanca – as they attempt to take down this ‘rogue’ group.

Some could argue that M:I-5 is nothing more than several key scenes – see underwater heist for one of the best in the franchise’s history – with a few clever twists (particularly during the finale), but it really does work on this extremely simple basis.

Cruise has great chemistry with Ferguson (who is an impressive stand-out co-star complete with an intoxicating sexy allure), Pegg gets notably ample screen time as Hunt’s right-hand man, and Harris is a suitably menacing villain.

Renner and Rhames are woefully underused, and the film itself doesn’t really build on Protocol, but by ‘standing still’ it offers another serving of a similar main course – with a tweaked side dish – that dices together all the key ingredients into a blend that cinema-goers seem to lap up.

It will undoubtedly have to offer a change of course for the sixth instalment – which has already been green-lit for a potential release in just two years – but Cruise deserves immense credit for turning M:I into something approaching the reliability of the Fast and Furious series in terms of box-office bankability.

As it stands though, Rogue Nation’s lack of ingenuity doesn’t seem to matter, as Cruise proves (at the age of 53) he’s still the ‘top gun’ when it comes to action blockbusters – and this has action in abundance.

Rating: 4/5