In this film, the fifth in the 19-year-old M:I series, the leader of Impossible Mission Force team Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is so far out of favor in Washington that he's officially – or is that unofficially? – no longer part of the U.S. government
The popularity of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise means that – thankfully – Tom Cruise won’t be joining “The Expendables” squad of retread action heroes any time soon. Cruise, the creative force behind the “Mission: Impossible” movie brand, delivers what some reviewers say is the most tightly wound plot of the series to date. He also delivers something other movie-makers haven’t figured out: realistic action fantasy.
He understands that moviegoers react emotionally to real, onscreen people doing really dangerous stunts – Cruise himself hanging off the side of a cargo airplane – vs. our ho-hum response to yet another 1,000-foot-high computer-generated tsunami or collapsing L.A. cityscape.
In this film, the fifth in the 19-year-old M:I series, the leader of Impossible Mission Force team Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is so far out of favor in Washington that he’s officially – or is that unofficially? – no longer part of the U.S. government.
A newcomer to the franchise, Alec Baldwin plays Alan Hunley, an incoming CIA chief who believes Hunt’s elite team should be scattered to the four winds. Hunley makes it clear he believes Hunt is delusional in thinking there’s a worldwide “syndicate” of ex-agents plotting terror incidents for profit.
As the adult in the room, Baldwin scores some of the film’s best lines. He also gets stuck with some of the lamest. Consider this gem: “Hunt is a manifestation of destiny.” That’s something only an actor with Baldwin’s history of irony could get away with.
Hunt’s mission is to save the world from a band of Chechen rebels armed with missiles capable of delivering death by nerve gas to millions. To do so, Hunt must woo his former IMF teammates Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Benji (Simon Pegg) from their new jobs at the CIA to help him overcome his lack of resources as a down-on-his-luck secret agent. Also back from M:I 5 is Hunt’s goofy, gadget-wielding buddy Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames).
Between heart-stopping action sequences – including motorcycle chases with real, live flying bodies CGI could never convincingly convey – writer-director Christopher McQuarrie builds a sense of dread with hints of traitors at the highest levels. Could Baldwin’s CIA chief be one?
Playing the fence in the role of frenemy is Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a seductive British agent whose common cause with Hunt might be a ruse. Is Ilsa in the service of the Syndicate? Saying that Ferguson steals the show is not an overstatement. But the high-speed bromance among IMF team members barely leaves room for a recurring female role.
Cruise may be 53, but he’s still out there – fighting, jumping, doing things secret agents do and not yet resembling Steven Segal. When your pulse settles after two hours and 11 minutes of fights, crashes, fireballs and beatings, you’ll realize that the “Mission: Impossible” formula still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
— ABQ Free Press staff