Since Bond went all Bourne and favoured realism over bonkers-ness, there’s been a dearth of mad-as-nuts action spy capers.
Thank the weird space alien gods, then, that Tom Cruise has so much fun making Mission: Impossible films that a fifth has now arrived.
And unlike the fifth Terminator film (more of that in a bit…), it’s bloody good fun.
The plot (not that it matters) has Ethan Hunt (Cruise) racing about off the grid and undercover trying to prove to anyone that’ll listen that The Syndicate is real.
He’s helped, as ever these days, by Simon Pegg (techie-geek Benjie), Jeremy Renner (the be-suited Brandt) and Ving Rhames (the ever-reliable, ever-quitted Luther) – all of whom are having as much fun as Cruise is.
And, to be honest, without them I’m not sure the franchise would still be viable (no matter how much Cruise wants to carry on).
You see, if you trawl back through the previous instalments, the first is great fun, but the second was terrible. After that, it was a slow crawl back to the previous high-watermark.
And that crawl became quite the sprightly jog once Pegg appeared on screen in Mission: Impossible III. Inadvertently, Pegg has become the main reason M:I is worth watching.
And Rogue Nation is no different.
From the opening sequence of a plane taking off and Pegg, camouflaged up to his eyeballs, trying to open a door, the star of Spaced, Star Trek and the Cornetto Trilogy is the star and emotional heart of this movie.
Sure, Cruise’s name is on the door, and newcomer Rebecca Ferguson is both sexy and seriously kick-ass, but it’s Pegg who has you laughing your socks off during the car chases and holding your breath at other times.
And there are serious ‘hold your breath’ moments.
But they really aren’t the point of the movie.
Let’s face it, there is no point.
It’s ludicrous, ridiculous, dumb as nuts bonkers. You’ll find yourself asking such questions as ‘where did she get that de-fib kit from?’ and ‘how did they get the hatch open?’
Only none of that matters.
It’s the joyous over-the-topness that makes Rogue Nation the best film of the franchise.
Yes, it’s taken them five films to get back to where they started, but when it’s this much fun you can forgive them the low-point of II.
Who else could come up with a car chase that has you laughing out loud?
Or a bike chase where a motorbike actually explodes?
Or paper that becomes a laptop?
These are exactly the sorts of things you WANT in an M:I film!
And it’s well shot too, which helps. It’s slick and shiny, as these things should be.
The car chases are swift and visceral, the underwater scenes gripping, the opera suitably over-blown – writer and director Christopher McQuarrie has done a bang-up job.
Sure, there are plot holes, yes, if you apply logic your brain hurts – but there’s serious films for that stuff.
With Mission: Impossible, the whole point is the improbability of the whole thing.
And sometimes it’s just nice to give the brain a rest and let the eyes enjoy the ride.