Tom Cruise returns to the big screen as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in the action-packed Mission: Impossible series.
Over the past few films we’ve seen Tom and by extension Ethan becoming more of a team player, sure, he and his character are center stage but he’s begun to rely more on being part of a team, which lends itself more to the concept of the original series.
The stories, beginning with M:I2 have tended to be simpler, following on the tails of Brian De Palma’s twisty thriller they decided to focus more on straight forward action films, heavy on the stunts, which Cruise does most of himself. Under incredibly controlled circumstances, of course.
This time out is no different, as Benj (Simon Pegg) points out, the baddies this time around are the anti-IMF. Boom, plot is… stop them! Impossible? That’s implied in the title. Add in fights, chases, explosions and stunts – mix well. The big stunt is featured in all the trailers but looks damned impressive in IMAX – Cruise clings to the outside of a plane as it takes off… And it’s in the first 5 minutes of the film.
This time around Cruise and Pegg (who is always a joy to have in these films, and now seem to be as essential to them as Cruise) are joined by Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson and Sean Harris. And while overall it’s an enjoyable entry into the series, I thought Ghost Protocol was the stronger film.
It looks gorgeous however, fantastic locations from Morocco to London, as Hunt tries to track down the mysterious Syndicate, run by Lane (Harris), who manipulates political events, currents natural disasters and commits terrorist actions, all to shift the balance of power.
As Hunt’s journey continues he meets Ilsa Faust (Ferguson) whose allegiance is shady at best and may not be worth the trust Ethan has placed in her.
Back State-side Brandt (Renner) is informed of the IMF’s dissolution at the request of the CIA director, Hunley (Baldwin). He in turn demands to know where Ethan is, and wants him brought in dead or alive.
It’s up to Ethan, Benji, Luther and Brandt to bring the Syndicate down, if they can prove it actually exists.
Tightly paced and edited, slowing down just long enough to brace for the next set piece, this is bound to be a summer blockbuster, but lacks an emotional heart. In the three previous films they at least tried to have an emotional journey as well as an action one, this one doesn’t seem to.
What it does have is moments of sheer popcorn enjoyment in creating spins on the typical spy thriller. The underwater break-in, the showdown in London, the bike chase… All make for grand adventure and are well-crafted, but it lacks an emotional punch, instead the series has become a collection of action scenes and amazing stunts. Not a bad thing, to be sure, but I would love an M:I film to have a little bit more substance to go with its fantastic style. All the actors are more than capable, give them something a little meatier.
That being said, I did enjoy myself, Ferguson was a delight, proving that her Ilsa is more than Ethan’s equal, and it was great to see familiar faces, the series is slowly becoming just as much about Benji, Luther, and now Brandt as it is Hunt, so let’s give them all something to do with their characters.
And since talks of Six are already underway, let’s get a sharp script that balances action with solid story, and let’s have Ethan and his team choose to accept their next mission.