Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Film Review

Tom Cruise returns for more tense set-pieces, breathless daredevil exploits and infectious camaraderie

With 2015 blockbusters like Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron and disaster flick San Andreas relying on CGI wizardry to make audiences gasp and groan, there’s something comforting about the return of Tom Cruise and his preference for old school stunts and practical effects. The 53-year-old recently stipulated that a potential Top Gun sequel should feature “no CGI” and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘s opening scene shows him clinging for dear life to the side of a military aeroplane. As co-star Simon Pegg has said, “All Tom had to do was have the balls to do it, which is considerable, and survive.”

Cruise’s fifth outing as IMF (Impossible Missions Force) operative Ethan Hunt is filled with similarly outlandish exploits – even kidnapping the British Prime Minister is all in a day’s work for Hunt and his crew. But to complain that Rogue Nation is frequently ridiculous rather misses the point; after all, this $2 billion film franchise isn’t based on a classic ’60s TV series called Mission: Slightly Taxing.

The somewhat over-complicated plot follows Hunt as he goes rogue to prove the existence of a mysterious international terrorist organisation known as the Syndicate while simultaneously trying to evade the CIA, whose overbearing director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has dissolved the IMF because he disapproves of its unorthodox methods. Along the way Hunt and his IMF colleagues Benji (Pegg), William (The Avengers‘ Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Entrapment‘s Ving Rhames) are frequently thrown into cahoots with a supposedly duplicitous British intelligence officer called Ilsa Faust played by up-and-coming Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson. Assuredly taking over from previous Mission: Impossible directors Brian de Palma, John Woo, JJ. Abrams and Brad Bird, Christopher McQuarrie (who wrote The Usual Suspects), cleverly keeps us guessing: though Faust often seems to be helping Hunt, it’s never obvious how trustworthy she really is.


Following Charlize Theron’s formidable performance as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, Ferguson’s is the second great female action lead of the summer, something which is sadly still something of a rarity. Her role is convincing and well-rounded, and she runs rings round Cruise’s hero, outsmarting him and outlasting him in a high-speed motorcycle chase.

Pegg supplies light relief as bumbling but brilliant Benji, delivering a terrified facial expression whenever Hunt does something reckless, but it’s Cruise’s charisma and intensity that really sell this film. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation isn’t quite as exciting as the last installment, 2011’s franchise-reviving Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but it offers another entertaining mix of tense set-pieces, breathless daredevil exploits and infectious camaraderie. It’s good to have you back, Tom.