The movie is frontloaded by far its best scene, Tom Cruise literally gripping the side of a plane in flight. For the first time in the franchise, Tom Cruise doesn’t use a stuntman at all in the film – every frame of Ethan Hunt is him.
Director Christopher McQuarrie seems more interested in the past of the franchise than its previous four directors, as he drops continuity references to earlier films in story-relevant ways. He even handles the expected third act twist in a compelling way (there’s some actual depth and even politics to endgame revelations about the film’s antagonistic forces). Rebecca Ferguson makes a big impression as a shady double agent, having a curiously equal sort of chemistry with Cruise, a similar air of danger and mystery.
It’s a shame most of the movie isn’t as compelling as the very start and very end…McQuarrie is highly competent but the film lacks its own flavour the way the previous four films, each manned by a director, had. It feels like a marrying of visions more than a vision unto itself. What’s interesting is that the film leaves a lot more pieces in play at the end of it than any of the other films did. On its own though, it’s the least interesting film of the franchise by a far sight to me. Very capably made, and the pieces are all there, but nothing spectacular is made with them. Two and a half plane doors, and a USB drive enclosed in lipstick.