I’ve liked every “Mission: Impossible” picture to various degrees, “Ghost Protocol” being my favorite so far… Though as written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “The Usual Suspects”, who also directed the cult film “The Way of the Gun” and previously collaborated with Tom Cruise on the surprising “Jack Reacher”, “Rogue Nation” gives it a good run for its money.
First surprise: the eagerly anticipated set piece in which Cruise risks his life by actually holding on to a plane taking off is the opening, pre-titles scene! The story begins in media res as Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force colleagues, Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames), attempt to stop Chechen separatists to fly away with a dangerous cargo…
But it turns out that the Chechens are only a small cog in a vast international conspiracy orchestrated by the Syndicate, a terrorist organization not unline an “anti-IMF”, composed as it is of secret agents who are considered missing or dead, including their creepy leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).
Meanwhile, the CIA director (Alec Baldwin) has asked for the IMF to be shut down and Hunt finds himself once again a fugitive, left alone to save the world with his few faithful friends as well as possibly with the help of the mysterious Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), a Syndicate member who seems to be a double agent…
Like every “Mission: Impossible”, “Rogue Nation” tells a convoluted story with generous helpings of exposition. But as in “Ghost Protocol”, there are also tons of hilarious gags and the chemistry works well between the characters, particularly between Ethan and Benji.
And what about the action scenes! Beside the plane stunt, we’re treated to brutal fights (including a few with knives) and exciting shoot-outs; to a riveting sequence in which our heroes try to stop an assassination during a representation of Turandot at the Vienna Opera; to another of the heist scenes that have made the fame of the series, this time targeting an underwater computer server room; to an incredible chase throughout Casablanca where Hunt drives a BMW, then hops on a motorcycle; and so on.
While not as stylish as Brian De Palma’s or John Woo’s, Christopher McQuarrie’s direction is perfectly effective, like the work of Brad Bird on the previous film. As such, in my opinion, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation“ is more or less equal to “Ghost Protocol” as the best film in the series. Not bad for a fifth episode!