How does Tom Cruise do it? He grins, he scores. Ethan Hunt is his most perfectly-suited character, a man of mystery who gives little away but who emerges unscathed from whatever high-concept wreckage a career as the world’s biggest movie star ™ can surround you with.
Hunt and his gang reassemble to yet again abseil down iconic buildings and bust into fiendishly inaccessible places to steal sensitive Maguffins that even the evil super-villain character has no clue what to really do with.
As with so many franchises now, it’s like sitting down for another – well, 5th- episode of super-budget telly. The split screen title credits and Lalo Schifrin’s propulsive theme tune have been heralding fun and spy games since the 1960s and that’s what we’re still getting.
Cruise gamely flashes those teeth through the opening sequence which involves him jumping onto a plane, literally, and taking off. Does all his own stunts you know? Although, really, who cares? Does it make the film any more exciting or perilous? Does anyone believe anything in the movies anymore?
He’s helped by his usual crew of Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, as well as Jeremy Renner who does the dirty work politically. In this episode, sorry, 5th instalment, Ethan uncovers a sinister international crime organisation called The Syndicate who he believes might be responsible for attacks and assassinations around the world, all of which handily pop up on iPads at the swipe of a finger, like some sort of Terrorist Tinder.
Hunt is on the hunt for a baddie played by British actor Sean Harris, who’s always good (he steals the upcoming Macbeth from Michael Fassbender) and always menacing and I’m delighted to see him getting a Hollywood pay day, just as I used to be for Simon Pegg, although I think we’re all a bit over Pegg by now, aren’t we?
Ethan seems particularly intrigued by an all-action, super-hot-but-in-a-smart-not-obvious way double agent called Ilsa, played by Rebecca Ferguson, the film’s only real surprise and an impressive new star – FYI, she’s from Sweden, has a British mum, was in The White Queen on the telly and isn’t the same one who as the scouser from X Factor who does smooth jazz covers. Whoever she is, this Rebecca Ferguson is very cool, looks great in a swimsuit and a ball gown, and has a mean karate kick.
I hope there’s a MI 6, just so we can see her again – better than that, just give her, her own show.
So, back to MI:5 and there a few set-pieces to come in between all the guff about computer codes and duplicitous CIA agents – there’s one at the Vienna Opera House, which is quite the rip off of Bond in Quantum of Solace and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. Then there’s an underwater stunt which means Tom has to hold his breath for three minutes while doing something with hatches and valves and computer cards.
Then there’s a car chase through Moroccan streets (a bit Octopussy meets one of the Bournes – in keeping with that franchises’ amnesiac theme, I’ve forgotten which) and then a bit of cat and mouse stuff around the Tower of London which, with its cobbledy-foggy alleyways and repressed ministers (the PM is played by Tom Hollander, who gets a laugh just by appearing on screen) looks just how London really actually honestly looks, if you’ve never actually been there for more than the couple of hours it takes to walk a red carpet and snap selfies with teenage girls from Bexley.
Look, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (shouldn’t that be: rogue colon?). It just doesn’t have anything to add to the world. It feels empty and shiny and slick, charming yet somehow vapid and vaguely sinister, like a Tom Cruise grin.