As well as a record number of familiar faces (Renner joins Pegg and Rhames in returning) and with exactly the same situation as Ghost Protocol (i.e. the Impossible Monetary Fund gets shut down again) it feels as if the Mission Impossible – Subtitle films fit to a distinct template (n=2).
Christopher McQuarrie takes over direction duties from Bird (he’s credited with the screenplay too). I had to look the name up, and discovered he wrote The Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow, which also feature Cruise. Then on Wednesday he was getting mentioned all over the place in connection with the vacancy on Bond 25 created by Danny Boyle’s (regrettable) departure.
Once again there’s a strong sense of it being a sequel – the plot of Ghost Protocol is referenced right at the start. However Hunt’s wife isn’t even mentioned in this one. I hope she didn’t mind him going and hiding in Paris for 6 months… (we get no indication at any point he even thinks of her…) There’s a fair bit of rather hammy inauthentic politicking in front of some sort of committee – I think we can lay the blame for that one at the door of Skyfall which came out between these films. Alec Baldwin does a bit as the hostile director of the CIA. Tom Hollander is good value as the British PM – not, as far as I could detect, intended to be Cameron.
I’ve enjoyed the various takes on Lalo Schifrin’s famous theme in the previous films, but Joe Kraemer is the first composer to take advantage of it by properly weaving it into his score. Not only that, but he also adopts a little of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma as a theme for Ilsa after her operatic escapades. Fans of Doctor Who trivial will probably be aware that Kraemer is the only Mission Impossible composer also to have provided the music for Big Finish audios.
Generally the style is similar to Ghost Protocol and but for one thing there’d be little to choose between the two films – maybe this one suffers from a smaller team (Patton has disappeared without explanation) with less intrigue. The one thing Rogue Nation does have, however, is Rebecca Ferguson. As an MI6 agent of dubious intention and a faint accent (Wikipedia tells me she’s Swedish) Ferguson dominates every scene, in control of every encounter whether it is with the ‘syndicate’ or IMF. She fights with extraordinary grace, speed and physical dexterity. She faces down the (rather beige) antagonist without fear or hesitation. She is the driving force throughout. The film itself may not be the greatest, but she is, and if there were a spin-off based around Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust I’d be there for it, no question.