Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (12A)

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin

The fifth entry in the Mission Impossible franchise is pretty much EXACTLY what you would expect. High octane action, Tom Cruise running a lot, Simon Pegg being funny, elaborate stunts and a labyrinthine plot involving shadowy government agencies. However, it is all done very well and is a pretty thrilling adventure.
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt is his usual cocky, ridiculously buff self. At one point he drowns, is shocked back to life, immediately then takes part in a car chase ending in an end over end crash, he then leaps onto a motor bike and ends up crashing at high speed while not wearing any protective gear. Is he at all affected/injured? Don't be silly, he is Tom Cruise, superhero!!
Joining the MI boys club this time is Rebecca Ferguson, who was so good in BBCs The White Queen. From costume drama to action heroine, her character, Ilsa, is a welcome addition to the kickass girls club (or which there are not too many members unfortunately!) She is as tough is a scrap as Cruise, indeed, outwitting him quite often. She even has the sense to kick off her high heels and carry them before an action scene! Take that Bryce Dallas Howard!
On the other hand, these films have a TERRIBLE record for its use of female characters, with no recurring girls at all (although Michelle Monaghan as Ethan's girlfriend got a second cameo appearance in time for him to walk away from her!) Indeed, I don't think any female character had a line apart from Ilsa! Maybe that girl in the record shop at the start but it was all male baddies, all male senators, assasins, cops etc. Definitely a fail on the Bechdal test. The prime minister had a wife who smiles at one point. The strength of Ferguson's character in no way makes this a feminist MI! Although to be fair, we get one bikini shot of her and one shirtless Tom Cruise scene, so I suppose fair is fair in the objectification stakes...
While it is nice to see a strong female character, Ferguson really doesn't have a lot of acting to do. This film is all about the plot (which is very Bourne-like convoluted but just about holds together) but mainly the action, and a few humorous bits from Pegg. Comedy performers like Alec Baldwin and Tom Hollander get a twinkle in their eye and that is about it! Jeremy Renner looks like he is laughing all the way to the bank, with a quick call to his agent to say 'thanks for the payday' on the way! Can you say 'phoning it in?'
I really don't care that much that Tom Cruise does his own insane stunts, but the action is undeniably heart racingly good and this is a great big screen popcorn ball of fun. Never as engrossing on TV, but as a cinema experience, a lot of fun. 8/10

July 2015

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