This is the 5th installment in a franchise that completely reinvigorated the TV series from the 1960s which was about a spy organization taking on crazy missions to stop bad guys with one of the catchiest theme tunes ever.
Each installment has had different directors, Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and now Christopher McQuarrie. Each has brought something slightly different to the movies, but they are all high quality action flicks.
Normally with a franchise, I would sum up the previous movies, but in this case, the Honest Trailer does a pretty good job. Basically Ethan Hunt and his IMF force are a top-level operating force trying to stop all kinds of villains all over the globe. If they ever get caught, they will get ‘disavowed’, meaning that they don’t officially exist, so if anything goes wrong, the government can act like they have no idea who or what these folks are.
This particular movie picks up right at the end of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, where Ethan realized the Syndicate was a real thing. Basically, they are just like any other evil organization from any other spy-type franchise (Spectre, Chaos, the Evil League of Evil, etc.), and they seem to be out to cause trouble and perhaps take over the world. You do realize very quickly the reason that the huge plane stunt has been in all the ads for this movie – it’s the cold open. That amazing stunt happens right before the credits!
That leads to Ethan stopping by a record shop in London to pick up another mission, should he choose to accept it. However, this one turns out to be a trap, and he witnesses his contact get killed by a mysterious villain. This results in him getting captured, and suddenly rescued by what turns out to be a deep cover British agent. He tries to make contact with his team, but of course – he’s disavowed, so he has to go out on his own while the rest of his team tries to continue working off the record.
A few months later, the CIA is still trying to track down Ethan, when he makes contact with his buddy Benji, sending him to Vienna to track what he believes to be the head of the Syndicate. They bust up an assassination attempt of the Viennese head of state, and run into Ilsa (the British agent) again. Once more, they go out on the run – this time following clues Ilsa leaves to track the Syndicate to Casablanca, where they seem to want to steal an encrypted file that they believe contains a list of Syndicate agents (it’s always some sort of file). Ilsa steal it, which doesn’t matter because Benji already made a copy. Hunley – the head of the CIA - tells Brandt (who was running the IMF), that he’s bringing Ethan Hunt in one way or another, so Brandt calls Luther Stickell and they head to Casablanca, running into Ethan and Benji in the middle of an epic motorcycle chase sequence. And this is after the epic water-file-retrieval sequence.
Ilsa attempts to take the file back to her boss in London, Attlee, only to find out that she’s basically been disavowed and must head back undercover with the evil Syndicate boss, Lane. Ethan and team come to London, Benji gets kidnapped by Lane, and in order to rescue him, Ethan and team have to open the encrypted file, which is not the list they thought it was – but instead is access to money, set up by the person who created the syndicate that will allow them to operate for years. The file is a ‘red box’ file, and can only be opened by the Prime Minister of England. So the team has to get to the Prime Minister. Inevitably, they end up on top (not really a spoiler here, you knew they would come out on top), and Hunley gets to be the new ‘secretary’ in charge of the IMF – now that they are back to being ‘vowed’ instead of disavowed.
That all sounds very confusing – I know, but trust me, it’s put together in a really slick way, and it’s not confusing when you watch it. Christopher McQuarrie is the director for this particular outing, mainly because Cruise requested him after working with him in Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher. He’s perfect for this, and the movie is fast-paced and fun. The centerpiece of these movies are the action – and in case you were wondering how Cruise was going to top that hanging –off-the-Burj bit from MI4, the amazing plane sequence at the beginning of this movie is astounding. I cannot wait to see how he tries to top this one in MI6 – because honestly, if they keep making these, I will keep watching them.
- Here’s a fun fact: Tom Cruise now is five years younger than Jon Voight was in the original Mission Impossible movie. That is a mindbender. I keep waiting for him to look like he's aging, and while he looks a little older, he has apparently decided to not age like normal people. I know he’s a bit crazy – but he’s a man who loves movies, and cares about making the fans happy. He overcommits to these movies in particular, and really wants to give the audience the best possible experience. And yes – he does run.
- Jeremy Renner is back as Brandt, and he fits in with the team a little better in this one. He’s certainly capable for action movies, and really does well in this one – his job is still just to question what Ethan is doing, and point out that it sounds crazy, but that’s an important part of the team!
- Simon Pegg is back as Benji Dunn and is basically just playing Simon Pegg in an MI movie, but that is just fantastic. The whole scene of him being interrogated by the CIA repeatedly for Ethan’s whereabouts is pretty funny. I also enjoyed the car chase sequence in Casablanca, during which Cruise was really driving, and Pegg was really hanging on for dear life.
- Ving Rhames is back as Luther, and his job on the team seems to be mainly just backing Ethan up, despite whatever crazy decision he makes. He and Cruise are the only two people who have appeared in all 5 of these movies, and Rhames is at his best here, providing a calm, smooth presence among all the crazy.
- Rebecca Ferguson from White Queen plays Ilsa Faust, and she was an absolute joy in this movie. Once again, we have really seen some impressive female roles in action movies this year and this is another. Ilsa is a completely capable agent from the word go, and at no point needs Ethan or anyone else to ‘save’ her. She is fantastic in the quiet moments, but even better in the action sequences. I particularly like her big time fight with one of the bad guys at the end - the "bone doctor". She owns the fight from start to finish, and I love love love the fact that Ethan does not run in to save her – she takes out the bad guy on her own – fantastic. Most other movies would have had the male ‘hero’ come by just as she was about to get killed to save her. She was great!
- Sean Harris, who you’ve previously seen as Fitfield in Prometheus, plays Solomon Lane, the evil head of the Syndicate. He’s so unbelievably good as the villain in this. He plays everything with this slimy, evil, arrogance and just makes you hate him completely – the perfect bad guy to Ethan Hunt’s good guy.
- Simon McBurney plays Atlee, the head of British secret intelligence who is Ilsa’s commanding officer. He’s also a bit slimy and arrogant, but don’t worry – he gets his.
- Alec Baldwin plays Hunley, who starts out chasing after Hunt and team, and ends up on their side. Not really a surprise there, but it’s nice to see Baldwin back in this type of role, after all – we all loved the Hunt for the Red October.
Go see this – go see it on a big screen. It’s a perfect summer action movie with lots of running and chasing and practical stunts and action-Tom Cruise (which is so much more entertaining than drama-Tom Cruise!).
9 out of 10 – I loved it. Gained points for the plane sequence, the water sequence, the motorcycle sequence, and the foot chase through London. Lost points for no mention of Michelle Monaghan’s secret wife of Ethan Hunt from the last two movies. I mean, it was a bit of a plot point in the last one that they faked her death so she and Ethan could be together. Gained points for not forcing Ilsa and Ethan into a romantic sub-plot. Lost points for the overly confusing plot that’s very similar to the plots of the other MI movies, but, hey – if it ain’t broke….
Bonus Video 1: Everything wrong with MI4
Bonus Video 2: Because I mentioned it – the Hunt for the Red October – Sean Connery not pretending to be Russian, Sam Neil vaguely pretending to be Russian, and Tim Curry overdoing the Russian. Also – young Alec Baldwin!
Bonus Video 3: Tom Cruise Lip Sync Battling on the Tonight Show, because yes.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews