The fifth instalment of a Tom Cruise spy movie series may not seem cause for great excitement, but check your snobbery at the door: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, out this week, could be the best blockbuster you see all summer.
Here are five reasons why.
1 | It's from writer-director Christopher McQuarrie
...or for those of you who aren't good with names, the guy who wrote The Usual Suspects. Having made the transition to director with 2000's underrated The Way of the Gun, McQuarrie most recently proved his action chops with Jack Reacher, a Tom Cruise-starring adaptation of Lee Child's spy novel One Shot. Basically an audition for M:I-5 then. With the characters hopping locations and switching motives with every new scene, Rogue Nation could have been a confusing mess. That it actually zips along quite nicely is down to McQuarrie, whose juggling of the plot ensures you won't spend half the running time scratching your head or fighting the urge to walk out.
2 | It's not as serious as Bond
Don't get us wrong – we're as excited for Spectre as you are, but let's face facts: Bond is no longer the light entertainment it was. With the Daniel Craig days has come the reliance on a darker tone designed to lure critics onside. M:I is a breath of fresh air; the tone is lighter, the globe-trotting more regular and the sense of danger always present (more on Rogue Nation's standout sequence below). These films may at times be one clunky Ving Rhames quote away from feeling a bit too Fast and Furious (we'll notch Sean Harris' terribly-accented villain down to that too), but Cruise and co could teach Mendes' Bond films a thing or two about lightening up.
3 | The underwater sequence
The secret to Mission: Impossible's success (it's the 19th biggest film franchise of all time) could be that each entry contains one set piece so outlandishly impressive it demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible – and one that stuntman-shunner Tom Cruise performed himself. The first M:I has the vault heist while M:I-2 has the rock climb; most recently, fourth outing Ghost Protocol had Cruise climbing Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building – a stunt so nuts the film's promotion was built around it. Not to be left out, Rogue Nation features one lengthy underwater sequence so breathtaking we thought we were going to pass out in our cinema seats; rather Tom than us.
4 | Rebecca Ferguson
Another refreshing aspect of this series is how the producers opt to stay away from instantly recognisable A-listers when it comes to the female lead: Emmanuelle Béart (nope, can't recall her either), Thandie Newton, Michelle Monahan and Paula Patton have all come before – but it's in Rebecca Ferguson that M:I-5 finds its girl. The 31-year-old Swedish actress plays Ilsa Faust, a role whose identity we shall shut the hell up about. Best known as the lead in British drama The White Queen (for which she earned a Golden Globe nod), Ferguson will next be seen in Florence Foster Jenkins alongside Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. If her upcoming list of credits look sparse, we're sure she'll be on Hollywood's 'most wanted' list following Rogue Nation. Well, we hope.
5 | It's not in 3D
Walking into the cinema and not having clunky 3D specs shunted into our hands was refreshing as hell. M:I-5 doesn't rely on visual theatrics to get audience's hearts racing – it's simply all there in the action. Regardless of what you think about Rogue Nation, just revel in the comfort of being able to walk out without having to caress your temples for the rest of the day. Whoever's decision the no-3D was, we're saluting them.