With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.
Christopher McQuarrie is here to save the modern blockbuster.
Ok, maybe he’s not alone in that, especially with George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road earlier this year in good company, but he’s definitely got something that sets him apart from the rest. Last year I said this of Edge of Tomorrow, which ended up being one of my favourite films of the year, and by far one of the best surprises I’ve ever witnessed in a cinema:
Everyone here is powering on all cylinders, and it’s not hard to get engrossed and pulled along with it when the film posses that same hyperactive energy found in Go, even when most of the plot is about repetition.
Oh, I missed that energy on screen. Just earlier this year I sat in The Avengers: Age of Ultron feeling pretty unaffected by what I was seeing. I laughed, sure; I went absolutely nuts when Julie Delpy appeared in one of the stranger cameos I’ve seen, absolutely; but goodness, it felt tiring. It wasn’t as bad as Self/less, which left me ready to climb into bed and sleep for the rest of the week from how sluggish it felt, but for all the running and leaping and adventure on screen, I felt utterly disconnected from it all, like I wasn’t going on the caper with Iron Man and co. but instead indeed stuck in a multiplex seat in mid-sized Brisbane watching it from afar.
But sitting in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on Tuesday night, I felt involved. McQuarrie has such a quality in his writing and direction that makes his action so immersive. The impact of every punch is felt, instead of dissipating without much cause or meaning, every action sequence feels exhilarating, leaving you breathless by the end. Here, he manages to make the much-done plotline of a faceless terrorist organisation inexplicably wanting to take down the world (and of course, the IMF, because someone always needs to be after Tom Cruise) fresh, adventurous and entertaining. Like his work writing Edge of Tomorrow, he effortlessly inserts wit and makes the sure-to-be tiresome (he made a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day not repetitive, come on) inventive and exciting. It helps that he has a committed cast, including Simon Pegg and the fantastic Rebecca Ferguson, as it has been much publicised by now, Tom Cruise does his own stunts, including hanging off a moving plane in the opening of the film, which indeed shows in the action, making it feel present.
McQuarrie is indeed a rare commodity in today’s tentpoles, a filmmaker that brings a true directorial signature to his work in a big-budget filmmaking environment that rejects style, turning out faceless products that feel detached and indeed unadventurous. After Edge of Tomorrow last year and now Mission Impossible this year, I’m now hoping lightning just didn’t strike twice, and that McQuarrie will continue to be a unique voice.