Six movies in and Mission: Impossible is still showing no signs of slowing down. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
The formula’s well established by now. High stakes espionage, full-throttle action and, naturally, stacks of masks are abound here; all familiar tropes for the longstanding series. Which makes it all the more impressive that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie – back for his second round with the franchise – manages to keep it all feeling so fresh. Through six films we’ve watched as the heroes rip off masks to reveal their true identities, so many times that by all rights it should have grown tiresome by now, but, you know what? It just never gets dull. Sure, there are the occasional moments that touch a little too closely with what we’ve seen before (including a motorbike chase that’s strongly reminiscent of one of the big set pieces from Fallout’s immediate predecessor, Rogue Nation), but they’re few and far between. And they certainly shouldn’t detract from the fact that on the whole, this is an impressively executed, intelligent, exhilarating entry for the juggernaut franchise.
Tom Cruise returns as superspy Ethan Hunt, who along with his IMF cohorts Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) face a mission to save the world from a nuclear threat…if they choose to accept it, of course. The team chemistry remains at the expected high level set previously, but it’s the key relationships between Hunt and the two women he holds dearest, his ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) that hold the film’s emotional centre, exploring what drives Ethan forward. While Monaghan is a welcome returning face, it’s Ferguson that gets the meatier role, throwing down in the multitude of action scenes as convincingly as she did in Rogue Nation. Meanwhile, threatening to destroy all that Hunt loves are genocidal terrorist Solomon Lane (the deliciously creepy Sean Harris, taking on his second run at the character), and the anti-Hunt, August Walker (Henry Cavill), the polar opposite of Cruise’s hero, complete with a broken moral compass and pounding combat style.
Multiple combustive elements play out a cat and mouse chase across the globe, the IMF, the CIA, MI6 and Solomon Lane butting heads in a series of escalating, heart in mouth action sequences. The aforementioned bike chase is followed up with a foot chase through London likely to be marked as one of the very best action scenes of the year, and then it’s all topped off with the excellent Tom Cruise continuing his one-man mission to kill himself as he battles it out in (and dangles precariously from) a helicopter. Away from the huge scale stunts, even the fist fights are carried out with aplomb; part-man, part-mountain Cavill being particularly effective here. The sounds of crunching fists, roaring engines, shattering glass and piercing bullets are cranked up, shredding through each conflict, set off beautifully by Lorne Balfe’s loud and rousing score.
It’s not the most original filmmaking you’ll see this year, but it’s standard-setting action set pieces will definitely take some beating.
Rating (out of 5):