The Mission Impossible (MI) series has had a chequered history, from an impressive opening salvo, the series had meandered it’s way through two further films with mixed results.
Think of this film as similar to the “Casino Royale” or “Goldeneye” of the Bond Franchise, a real re-invention.
Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, more focused, committed and believable than before. He has along for the ride a different accidental crew in the form of the unlikely Simon Pegg as “Benji”, computer technician, brand new field operative and comic relief. Pegg must wonder each morning when he will wake up from the sudden dizzy heights he now occupies, now starring in two mega franchises including the new Star Trek.
Jane (Paula Patto) adds some glamour to the proceedings but can beat up bad guys with the best of them and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) provides an increasing amount of support as the film progresses. Tom Wilkinson adds yet another high profile film credit to his resume as the IMF director.
We start in Russia with an invigorating and well filmed jailbreak, progressing to a very neat attempted extraction from the Kremlin, albeit book-ended with some slightly dodgy FX.
Nuclear launch codes are missing and the usual rogue Russian elements, in the form Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), are behind an insane plot to launch a nuclear missile, thus cleansing the world of it’s sins and allowing it to be reborn.
Following the Kremlin event, which the US naturally gets blamed for, the whole IMF corp are disavowed, leaving Hunt and his team to go it alone and save the world. Luckily they still have plenty of cool gadgets and toys to play with.
In Bondesque fashion, we then globe-trot through Budapest, Dubai and Mumbai as the hunt for the codes and the means of delivery through a spare satellite, hots up.
The action sequences are fast and furious, notable set pieces in Dubai are exciting and with plenty of real stunt work, albeit undoubtedly enhanced with FX work. Is that really Cruise hanging 120+ floors up on the Burj Khalifa, tallest building the world. We are told it most certainly is and contributes to one of the best and most intense action sequences of recent years. The car chases are expertly done within a simulated sandstorm, clearly with BMW’s exclusive assistance, many cars are destroyed but all in spectacular fashion. Another scene in an automated car park in Mumbai is expertly choreographed and leads to an exciting and unexpected climax.
Pegg actually works really well here, providing some reality and grounding to all the high tech, displaying a suitably audience friendly look of awe, to all that goes on around him, possibly with little acting required. The film is smart enough to make fun of the whole premise without erring into supposed parody error, see Cruise’s own weak “Knight and Day” effort for details. We particularly liked the “message will destruct in five seconds” failure and the obvious impracticality of a retinal scan on a moving goods train.
Like any modern futuristic movie, what is shown as high tech becomes common place within five years or even exists now. If so, security guards will need to be more aware of their surroundings and study that CCTV real hard in the future.
Director Brad Bird of Pixar “The Incredibles” fame, makes a highly successful leap into live action and this provides a late entry as the undoubted best action movie of the year. The story is a bit dodgy and fanciful, the ending taking the peril too far beyond what would make any difference as to the intended result. No matter, the MI series has always been about the action, that theme music and the visuals, none of which disappoint here.
A globe trotting thriller that truly thrills, mixing the best elements of Bond, Bourne and MI in barnstorming fashion.
Cruise is back on form and reinvigorates the franchise, providing excellent movie escapist fun.