Review by Louise Keller:
Filled with heart-stopping moments, this fifth in the franchise leaps to great heights with thrilling action and a story that feels fresh and vital. Christopher McQuarrie has written a cohesive screenplay in which the action always serves the storyline as we navigate the twists and turns of the narrative. The direction is focused and keeps a light touch, while the superstar status of its charismatic star Tom Cruise, is never in doubt.
Grabbing our attention, the opening sequence in which Tom Cruise hangs on to an airborne military plane for dear life has a bit of everything: tension, danger, excitement, incredulity, humour and style. The stunt per se has no significance in the scheme of the main plot, but it beautifully encapsulates the essence of the Mission Impossible franchise.
The plot comprises a rogue organization called the Syndicate that is spreading fear and violence around the world with all-too familiar disasters. As the Syndicate’s chief and the film’s villain, Sean Harris is ultra creepy, while Alec Baldwin is suitably bombastic as the CIA boss who closes down the IMF. As the team members William Brandt and Luther Stickell, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames are effective, if underused.
The major stunts take place in the air, on land and in the water. Highlights include a stunning sequence at the Vienna Opera House, when the drama high on backstage scaffolds, eclipses the drama of Turandot on stage. The red notation on the score’s top A alerts us to the moment when an assassination will take place. It’s a smoke and mirrors scenario as we try to work out who is who and where do loyalties lie. I love the no-nonsense way that Ilsa and Ethan make their conspicuous exit, the former wearing a green-gold satin gown with a provocative slit and stilettos not designed for scrambling on rooftops. Enigmatic but always accessible, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson is an interesting choice; she makes a strong impact.
The next major action piece takes place in a pressurized water tank, into which Ethan must dive and hold his breath for three long minutes while he enables safe access for Simon Pegg’s Benji. Pegg, a natural clown, is a great presence, adding welcome comic touches throughout. Pegg and Cruise make a terrific team. By the time Ilsa gets her hair wet, we recognize her as a super woman, who rides a mean motorbike, kicks ass, is keen with a gun and handy with a knife – even if we are not clear on her alliances.
The motor cycle chase along a winding cliff road in Casablanca is nail-biting material; we can almost smell the burning of the tarmac and feel the wind in our hair as Cruise screeches round corners at top speed. All the action is beautiful realized and McQuarrie makes us feel as though we are there.
And of course there is Lalo Schifrin’s marvellous music theme that is incorporated throughout, epitomizing the tension and control of the adventure at hand.