Monday, 31 August 2015


Starring: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley
Writers: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
Director: Max Joseph


Cole Carter (Efron) lives in the San Fernando Valley, promoting and generally hanging around the club scene with three friends. These four guys share not only a rented house but also share aspirations to make it big - Cole is looking for the one tune that will propel him into the ranks of globetrotting superstar DJs, Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) is a budding actor, Mason (Ollie Weston) sees himself owning clubs rather than handing out their flyers and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) - well, Squirrel certainly wants to do better, I'm sure, it's just not made especially clear what his career goals are here. Having people call him something other than Squirrel is probably a start. 

Complications arise when Cole is taken under the wing of older, successful DJ James (Bentley) who notices the younger guy's natural talent. As Cole looks to create the track that will facilitate his leap into the big time he meets James' personal assistant Sophie (Ratajkowski) and the two hit it off immediately. Well, not quite immediately, there's obviously that first meeting where Sophie is a bit aloof and Cole's attempts to break the ice don't quite work but deep down you know that Sophie thinks Cole's quite a nice guy so...

Meanwhile, Cole and his friends have an opportunity to make some quick cash working for real estate shark Paige (Jon Bernthal, absolutely wasted here - and I don't mean on the copious amounts of drugs handed out during the club sequences) - will they be swayed by the lure of easy money or will they stay true to their principles and follow their dreams? Hmm, that's a tough one, what do you think?

We Are Your Friends has apparently been given a huge thumbs down by Stateside audiences as it limped to the fourth-worst wide release debut in box office history. Personally, I'd be one of the first people to tell you that box office takings do not go hand in hand with the quality of a movie - some absolutely terrible films have raked in obscene amounts of cash - but in this case I have to say US moviegoers are bang on the money here.

WAYF is full of characters that it's very difficult to give two hoots about save for Efron and even then Cole isn't sufficiently interesting to draw the viewer in. His tribulations over the creation of his signature dance anthem could have been played for much more dramatic effect than they are here and his "Eureka!" moment in the tune's evolution is both clodhoppingly signposted and snigger-inducingly ridiculous. As a dance music fan, I have to say it's not even that great a tune when you finally get to hear it.

The rest of the cast have to work with such gossamer-thin material that a light breeze would cause it to disintegrate. Bernthal ought to be given an apology for being lumped with a cartoon role which appears to be the result of somone having watched Glengarry Glen Ross, being amazed by Alec Baldwin's terrifying/hilarious performance and then trying to recreate the magic here. Unfortunately, David Mamet isn't on script duty and it shows, leaving Bernthal as nothing more than the pantomime bad guy in this mess.

Cole's friends are not exactly sympathetic either. Ollie comes across as a bit of a whiner, bemoaning his lack of acting opportunities whilst giving no hint as to whether or not he's a competent thesp. However, at least he's relatively appealing compared to Mason, an arrogant, aggressive knobhead who you'd willingly cross the street to avoid - he also seems to be a bit of a sex pest too so he's the whole package, ladies. Get in line. Squirrel is just there to provide transport and make the odd "deep" comment (well, about as deep as this movie ever gets). Oh, and he dies about 75 minutes in just to provide some tragedy and to give motivation to the others to try harder. Sorry, did I just give that away? Whoops.

As for Bentley, he certainly gives the movie a decent performance but again the script hits you over the head with too many references to how damaged he's become without really addressing how he came to be like that. Ratajkowski receives some odd treatment, her character being set-up as a girl who is smart and has potential but then focusing on her ample breasts as they threaten to leap out of her dress during a slow-motion dance scene. Sophie's relationship with Cole never fully convinces either, Ratajkowski and Efron try hard enough to sell it but the script rarely gives the feeling that these two are all that into each other.

For a film whose message is all about "finding your own sound", WAYF spends most of its time nicking other people's sounds and gluing them together in haphazard fashion. It's certainly possible to create a well-written, entertaining piece about club/dance culture but in this case I'm thinking of Human Traffic, the 1999 flick starring John Simm. Don't get me wrong, the soundtrack here is pretty good - it's just about the only thing that succeeds - but a movie about dance music should carry you along on a wave of seemingly boundless energy. Instead, the film's vacuous plot, dull characters and trite message kill any momentum before it has a chance to build and the whole thing may very well have you snoozing way before the end of what is a very, very long 96 minutes.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


Starring: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemyng
Writers: Pascal Bonitzer & Anne Fontaine
Director: Anne Fontaine

In 2010, Gemma Arterton starred in Tamara Drewe, a film based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds which is set in rural England, its major dramatic beats more or less following the plot of a piece of classic English literature. Now Gemma Arterton stars in Gemma Bovery, a film based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds which is set in rural France, its major dramatic beats more or less following the plot of a piece of classic French literature. So is it a case of same stuff, different location? Absolutely not.

Married couple Gemma and Charlie Bovery (Arterton and Flemyng) move to a friendly, picturesque French village for a fresh start. As they're unpacking their belongings who should they meet but a guy called Gordo, played by Joel Edgerton, who has a gift for them...nah, only kidding. That would have been a freaky twist to the film. They do meet someone but it's their neighbour Martin (Luchini), the local baker who is a) instantly taken with the lovely Gemma and b) intrigued by her surname, being a huge fan of the similarly-surnamed heroine of Flaubert's novel. 

As the English newcomers settle into the area, Martin comes to realise that events in the life of Mrs Bovery are taking a similar track to those in the fictional life of Madame Bovary. All too aware of the tragic climax to the novel, Martin looks to intervene in matters before Gemma meets a sticky end. He's especially twitchy about the rat poison that the Boverys have in order to control their pest problem. It has arsenic in it, and that's not good for a Bovary/Bovery.

I did think of trying not the describe this predominantly French movie as a soufflé but I'm a sucker for a cliché. I did try not to use the word 'cliché' either. Soufflé sums up this movie very well - light, fluffy, flavoursome and just the thing if you're in the right mood. There are some darker elements to this story but the summery feel of the proceedings generally prevails here and a lot of emphasis is placed on Gemma's rediscovery of her joie de vivre. Ooh la la! Zut alors! Okay, I'm going to stop using French expressions now.

Arterton is charming in the title role and she handles the predominantly French dialogue extremely well. Luchini shows great comic timing and a fabulous hangdog expression to boot as the man who appoints himself the saviour of his new English friend. There are also many fine performances to enjoy in the supporting roles, namely Isabelle Candelier as Martin's perceptive, no-nonsense, dryly comic wife, Flemyng as the decent, well-meaning Charlie and Elsa Zylberstein as the style-obsessed Wizzy.

As a bit of a horror buff, I also feel I must mention the casting of Edith Scob (from genre classic Les Yeux Sans Visage) who turns up as the mother of the young law student Gemma has taken rather a shine to. Well, I'm excited that I can mention Les Yeux Sans Visage in this review, even if absolutely no one else is. Does it have any bearing on Gemma Bovery? Not really. Hey, it's my review. Write your own without any references to Georges Franju's movie.

But I digress. This is a chic, unhurried, romantic comedy drama which is a nicely filmed, pleasantly performed divertissement for those who already like this kind of thing. For everyone else, this could be flimsy, inconsequential and frustraingly lacking in the drama stakes -  your bête noire, if you will. Mon Dieu, I'm back into that French thing again...

Sunday, 23 August 2015


Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo
Writers: Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley
Directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein

Three decades after the original Vacation, which saw Clark Griswold embark on a road trip to Walley World theme park with wife Ellen, son Rusty and daughter Audrey, it's Rusty himself (Helms, looking NOTHING like the original Rusty Anthony Michael Hall in the photograph he views early on) who decides to recreate that very road trip in order to reconnect with his own family - wife Debbie (Applegate), sensitive, guitar-playing, journal writing son number one James (Gisondo) and problematic, foul-mouthed son number two Kevin (Steele Stebbins).

I'll freely admit I am a big fan of the original Vacation movie, which was a gloriously contrived excuse for gleefully mounted set-pieces of guffaw-inducing bad taste. The trailers for the new Vacation seemed to hint that it was cut from the same cloth, so I had absolutely no problem with that. The original had Holiday Road, that Lindsey Buckingham earworm, as its theme tune. The new Vacation has Holiday Road, that Lindsey Buckingham earworm, as its theme tune. Hey, if it ain't broke...

The original movie also had a fine performance from Chevy Chase, whose Clark Griswold was an essentially decent guy slowly being pushed closer and close to the edge of a total breakdown as his plans for the family holiday of a lifetime went up in smoke. To be fair there's more than a hint of that in Rusty's journey this time out and there's no question that Helms is an exceptionally talented comic actor but he's somewhat let down by the script which, for starters, doesn't give much of a hint as to whether there's anything of the mercurial Clark DNA struggling to shatter Rusty's patient persona.

In the original, you knew straight off the bat that Chase was only just holding it together and there were several minor tremors along the way before the chuffing great Chase earthquake of crazy hit towards the end. Here, Helms is saddled with a character that endures situations of varying embarrassment and humiliation without so much as a loss of temper. When he does eventually lose it (and it's a long, long time before he does), it's a dribble of petulance rather than an eruption of undiluted batshit insanity. Again, the script doesn't go nearly far enough, it's all far too careful and mannered and Helms deserves so much better.

In fact, it's the writing that generally sinks the massive amount of potential on show here. Christina Applegate can play it for laughs but save for a sequence at the sorority house she used to be a part of she's underused. Even said sorority sequence doesn't play out the way it could do, going initially for an obvious but amusing gross-out gag then not following through on it and cutting short the scene in an almost embarrassed fashion. Gisondo gets a better-written character than most but that also means that he's the butt of most gags rather the one driving them and a sub-plot involving a girl he meets is introduced, kicked around for a short while and then jettisoned in favour of getting the story to the finish line more quickly. Stebbins, as the sweary younger brother, is spectacularly annoying, proving that kids who drop the f-bomb at regular intervals are not only staggeringly unfunny but also surprisingly dull.

Another fine performer whose talents are squandered is Ron Livingston as a the pilot of a much swankier airline than the local carrier Rusty flies for. The opening of the movie sets up Livingston's arrogant flyboy as the perfect nemesis for our hero and then he promptly disappears from the action for almost the entire running time, eventually showing up at an unlikely moment about five minutes from the end of the film, at which point I didn't really care whether or not he was about to receive his comeuppance considering he hadn't exactly made Rusty's life a living hell other than jumping his place in a queue and making him wait for a later shuttle bus way, way, way back in the proceedings. Leslie Mann - funny lady, right? Given nothing to do here as the latest incarnation of Audrey Griswold. Michael Peña - hilarious in Ant-Man, right? Given nothing to do here - other than look an idiot - as a cop from New Mexico. And that's not the worst thing. Oh no.

What I'm building up to is my total and utter exasperation at by far the biggest waste of talent in this movie, which centres around the reintroduction of Clark and Ellen Griswold. At that point in the movie, my heart genuinely lifted. It was truly great to see Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo again and their appearances gave me that feeling of seeing old friends and, knowing what they could bring to the party, surely a slew of injury-causing gags would follow. The anticipation of all the comic contrivances that Rusty's parents could provide made me think that the film was really going to rally in its third act but no, a few minutes down the line and they've been shunted out of the way as well. You're kidding me, right? You've got Chevy Chase there and what do you do? Give him a couple of lines that hardly raise a smile and that's it? What the hell were you thinking?

So, does anyone make any impact whatsoever? Considering the kicking I've been giving this so far you might be surprised that my answer to that question is yes. Charlie Day wrings as many laughs as he can from his role as an outdoor activities guy who takes the Griswolds white water rafting immediately following a disastrous change in his relationship status. It's a shame we don't get to spend more time with him. Taking the prize for the guy who comes out of Vacation, reputation intact, having actually made me laugh out loud, is Chris Hemsworth as Audrey's other half Stone Crandall, a ridiculously well-endowed weather presenter whose star is on the rise in the world of local meteorological broadcasting and who enjoys manly pursuits such as farming cattle and riding quad bikes. Hemsworth sends up his chiselled, hunky image something rotten and he looks like he's having a great time doing it.

Vacation throws away the potential of its great cast, mainly because the writing just doesn't push the proceedings anywhere near as far as it should. There are funny and inventive moments - for instance, a sequence harking back to Christie Brinkley in the red Ferrari from the original which has an amusing, unexpected twist (mind you, if you saw the trailer that gag's ruined and it doesn't repeat particularly well) - but they're few and far between. The rest of it's unrelentingly average and, for me, a thumping disappointment. Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein really should have a had a word with scriptwriters Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley....oh.

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson
Writer: Amy Schumer
Director: Judd Apatow

Trainwreck opens with young Amy being told by her father that monogamy isn't realistic. It's a view that grown-up Amy (Schumer) has taken to heart, enjoying numerous liaisons which generally last, well, not very long. However, when she's sent on an assignment to interview hotshot sports doctor Aaron (Hader), Amy is suddenly struck with the realisation that she may actually be falling in love. Which doesn't fit with her game plan at all...

Considering that this movie was touted as a game changer in the world of romcoms it turns out to be bafflingly conventional with very few surprises in its hefty running time of just over two hours. I know that Judd Apatow likes to allow his comedies space to breathe and I'm not saying this doesn't have its share of brilliantly funny moments but I think the opening half of this flick needs an edit or two. You know, cut out two or three minutes. Okay, five minutes. Make it ten. Possibly fifteen.

The surprises in Trainwreck all come courtesy of some inspired casting. Brie Larson is adorable as Amy's younger sister Kim, who's settled down with nice-but-kind-of-dull Tom (Mike Birbiglia) and Tom's son Allister (Evan Brinkmann, who absolutely nails it as the bookish, slightly odd kid). Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park and Dave Attell all get laughs as Amy's co-workers and Tilda Swinton is awesome as Amy's utterly dreadful boss Dianna who takes lack of concern for her employees to a new level. It was also several minutes before I realised it was Tilda Swinton. I'm going to put this down to Ms Swinton being a superb, chameleon-like performer and not down to me being an idiot and not recognising her. Oh, and watch out for the movie that Schumer and Cena are watching in the cinema (Hader is also watching the same movie later on), there are a couple of reasonably well-known faces in that too, sending up pretentious black and white arthouse flicks.

For me, however, the MVP of the supporting cast is John Cena. Yes, the wrestler John Cena. That John Cena. As Steven, Amy's most "serious" boyfriend (which to Amy obviously means "not serious at all") Cena is genuinely funny, playing the sensitive lunk to a T. And he's very game in terms of participating in an absolutely cringe-making love scene with Schumer which ends on a very definite exclamation point. By that I mean you kind of see Cena's exclamation point. Showing less but still getting in on the chuckles is basketball superstar Lebron James who, as a client/friend of Aaron's, shows amusing concern for the doctor's ongoing romantic entanglements whilst needing to know exactly what's going on in the latest episode of a certain British period drama phenomenon.

As for the leads, I might as well 'fess up and admit that I'm a big fan of Amy Schumer. I love her attitude to pretty much everything and to me she's hilarously funny so going to see this wasn't too much of a hardship. Schumer's on fine form here, showing how gifted a comedy performer she is and, you know what, she ain't too bad in the more dramatic moments too. Bill Hader turns in a sweet performance as a guy who's incredibly skilled as a doctor but not so skilled when it comes to relationships and as a couple I was quick to buy in to the Schumer/Hader pairing. Of course there are bumps in the road as Amy's fear of commitment comes to the fore and an argument causes a problem with Aaron's work, which  causes a problem with Amy's work, and so on and so on.

Of course, the game-changing element has to be the end of the movie, right? Surely it doesn't throw in the usual romcom "two characters, one location, all on the line" sequence, does it? Well, I have to tell you that it does, not that it's necessarily a bad thing but if you're expecting something from completely out of leftfield you're not going to get it. Okay, so Trainwreck isn't the reinvention of the modern romcom but I chuckled through most of the movie and laughed out loud a few times which adds up to a pretty good comedy in my book. See it, enjoy it, just don't go expecting something breathtakingly original.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
Writers: Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram
Director: Guy Ritchie

In the early 1960s, CIA Agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, a Brit playing an American) is ordered by his boss Sanders (Jared Harris, a guy born in London with an Irish father, playing an American) teams up with rival KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer, an American playing a Russian) to investigate a criminal organisation which aims to proliferate nuclear weaponry. Key to their mission is Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, a Swedish woman playing a German) whose father is believed to be helping the bad guys, possibly unwillingly, to develop their world-threatening technology. Head of this organisation is the statuesque, intelligent and beautiful Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki, an Australian woman born in Paris playing...well, I don't believe it was ever established, she doesn't appear to be playing an Australian though) and it will take more than Solo and Kuryakin's somewhat grudging co-operation to take her down.

Guy Ritchie's stylish swinging Sixties spy show was never going to out-Bond the 007 franchise but to be fair it doesn't really try to, instead relying on some pithy exchanges between the leads, fabulous locations and some great period detail. For the most part it's slick and enjoyable - save for a somewhat tasteless plot wrinkle involving World War II which temporary blows the froth off the proceedings - and, if you can forgive some of the wobbly accents, chances are you'll be swept along by this breezy caper and its seemingly inexhaustible supply of double entendres. You'd think that Finbarr Saunders was a script consultant.

Henry Cavill may not possess the effortless cool of Robert Vaughn from the U.N.C.L.E. TV series but he's still on pleasingly suave form here as an agent who's not exactly an angel but rides a wave of confidence and charisma that gets him out of most scrapes. Oh, and he's a master thief too, which helps quite a bit. Hammer has a more interesting role as Kuryakin, an educated, defensive, chess-playing guy with some serious rage issues and whose cover is to be Gaby's fiancé. As Gaby, Vikander gets the odd moment to shine but more often than not she's there to do little other than look absolutely stunning in the fashions of the era. Which she does, let's be honest, but I was expecting to her to kick as much butt as fellow Swede Rebecca Ferguson does in the latest Mission: Impossible outing.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of Elizabeth Debicki's character. Yes, she's striking to look at and we're often told how dangerous she is but unfortunately she's relegated to the sidelines for quiet long stretches of the movie whilst we're treated to more Solo/Kuryakin/Teller banter which, I'll admit, is amusing and entertaining but it would have been nice for our heroes to pits their wits against a better-defined nemesis. Still, with what she has to work with, Debicki is very, very good. Elsewhere, Hugh Grant is underused/overused (dependent on your tolerance of Hugh Grant) as Waverly - if you've seen the original TV series you'll know where he fits into the scheme of things - and there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-him two-word cameo from a certain Mr David Beckham.

With the ending setting things up for a sequel, the question is this: would a second U.N.C.L.E. outing be welcome? Well, all things considered, I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to avoid it. Cavill and Hammer spark off each other nicely and, free of all those origin story trappings which are necessarily elements of the set-up here, our heroes could get straight into saving the world from the next menace. As to the here and now, these men from U.N.C.L.E. provide enough agreeable agent action to satisfy most of us until a certain Mr Craig tips up in October.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
Director: Joel Edgerton

Married couple Simon (Bateman) and Robyn look to make a fresh start by relocating to California from Chicago as a result of a stressful lifestyle which caused Robyn to miscarry. And things certainly look promising for them. They've moved into a beautful home and Simon has landed himself a great job with the chance of a fast-tracked promotion. When they're out buying supplies for their new place that they run into Gordo (Edgerton), a high school classmate of Simon's. Initially Gordo seems friendly enough if, as Robyn observes, a little "socially awkward" and he welcomes them to the area with a number of thoughtful gifts. However, the more Simon sees of Gordo, the less he believes the outsider's motives are benign...

Produced by Blumhouse it would be fair to assume that, given that company's output in general, this could very well be Fatal Attraction for the Insidious generation, leaping from a quiet beginning into outright hysteria, packed to the rafters with jump scares and with its share of gore. Although that actually doesn't sound like such a bad flick, I'm pleased to say that Joel Edgerton's directorial debut is a much more subtle and smart affair, as concerned with the gradual unveiling of its plot twists and the motivations of its characters as it is with raising the pulse rate of its audience. Not to say there's a lack of suspense - far from it. There are some terrifically tense sequences which will test the arm rests of many a cinema seat and you might find yourself temporarily airborne above said seat on more than one occasion.

The performances are all top-notch. I'm not going to say Bateman is the real surprise here because it's plain that, as an actor, he has the talent to be so much more than the frustrated comedy foil in movies like Horrible Bosses. It's just good to see him get his teeth into a character with more complexity that ventures into darker territory and you probably won't see him in quite the same way after this role. Hall is excellent as the intelligent, vulnerable Robyn, the emotional core of the movie. Edgerton is great as Gordo, playing it with just the right amount of off-beam behaviour leaving you thinking he's probably an okay guy under the awkwardness but consistently doubting exactly where he's coming from. Sure, he doesn't look like the bogeyman, he doesn't really act like the bogeyman, but does that necessarily mean he isn't? Come to think of it, does Simon know something about Gordo that he isn't telling?

It's questions like these that make this such an enjoyable watch. No one is quite what they seem at the outset and the story doesn't stick to the usual "nice guys menaced by psycho" template. Edgerton's script (yep, he wrote this as well as directing and appearing in it - oh, and he's one of the producers as well) might occasionally flirt with implausibility but for almost all of the running time his characters behave in a very believable way and where you'd expect there to be violent, bloodthirsty confrontations the film wrongfoots you, leaving you with something far more deft and disturbing. Even during the stretches of the plot where Gordo's not around there's still a pervading sense of unease because you're never quite sure how far away he really is. Or is that unease caused by something else? Do you think I'm going to tell you in this review?

A genuine delight for thriller fans, The Gift is an unexpected, er, gift. As to the talents of the quadruple threat actor/director/writer/producer (did he do the catering too? I wouldn't be surprised if he did) that is Joel Edgerton, I'm in no doubt whatsoever. This is a thoroughly impressive, satisfying piece of work and I'm looking forward to whatever writing/directing project he turns his hand to next. Don't look this Gift horse in the mouth, go see it.

Okay, I apologise for that previous sentence. You should still see the movie though.

Thursday, 6 August 2015


Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Director: Christopher McQuarrie

The latest Mission: Impossible movie begins with the Impossible Mission Force being shut down after CIA guy Alec Baldwin takes them to the intelligence community's version of an industrial tribunal. Whoa, shortest M: I movie ever, I thought as I sat there, and not really worth me taking a trip to the cinema. They could have just sent me a text along the lines of "IMF shut down. Our bad." followed by a sad face. Of course, that isn't where the movie finishes, it's only the start of the latest round of far-fetched shenanigans as Cruise's Ethan Hunt goes off the grid to bring down "an anti-IMF" called The Syndicate and to restore the good name of his impossible mission-completing team. Which means going up against bad guy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, sounding like he's in need of something for his sore throat).

It's not just Cruise returning to the fold either. Simon Pegg is back as perpetually exasperated tech geek-cum-field agent Benji Dunn, as is Jeremy Renner's stoic, serious William Brandt and Ving Rhames' cooler than cool Luther Stickell. Ghost Protocol's Paula Patton is one person who doesn't make a re-appearance so the vacancy for a smart, deadly, butt-kicking female operative is filled by Rebecca Ferguson as the mysterious Ilsa Faust who initially springs Hunt from Syndicate captivity even though she's working for them. Or is she really working for them? Is she actually working for some other agency? Or is she working for both sides? And if she is working for both, who's she double-crossing? Is she double-crossing everyone? Or is she being double-crossed? Or does she knows she's being double-crossed and so she's double-crossing those who are double-crossing her? Okay, I'm going to stop this now.

At this point I should probably be explaining the finer points of the plot but it's one of those stories where it's probably best to be swept along with the action as it hops from Vienna to Morocco to London. Which is my way of saying that I gave up on the plot early on and just revelled in its relentless action set-pieces and the amusingly smart-arsed to-and-fro between its main characters. Look, if you really need to know a bit more about the story, it's something to do with dead agents who may be anything but dead. There's a computer file, protected by insane levels of security, that needs to be acquired. The British Prime Minister is involved. The Austrian Chancellor is involved. American Intelligence is involved. British Intelligence is involved. Scooby-Doo is involved.

Hold on, I'm sure one of those doesn't belong...

Yes, Ethan Hunt still manages to mount handsomely-equipped stealth missions although his IMF credit card has been cancelled. Yes, Hunt is able to evade the best and the brightest that the forces of good and evil can muster. Yes, Hunt can die and be driving a BMW with few ill effects a couple of minutes later. And yes, the resolution of the plot relies heavily on Character A second-guessing the entire set of moves of Character B and then Character B second guessing that Character A will second guess Character B's entire set of moves and use that knowledge to trump Character A. Or something like that. And if these things bother you, Rogue Nation will drive you batshit insane.

Me? I'm happy to go with the flow in this case for a number of reasons. Firstly, Christopher McQuarrie is terrific at generating suspense, particularly in the extended sequence set in the Vienna State Opera which is mightily impressive. It's everything you want - tense, funny, exciting and all against the clock. Secondly, I have to mention The Cruiser himself. Say what you like about him but he's a bonafide action star. That's really him hanging on the outside of a plane. The bloke commits to these movies, that's a fact. Thirdly, the action is assembled beautifully. A long chase sequence between Cruise's BMW and a squad of motorbikes is a flat-out masterpiece of editing - it's so good that it probably should have been at the end of the movie rather than in the middle. All of these things make Rogue Nation worth your time. However, the reason you should be seeing this is Rebecca Ferguson.

As Ilsa, Ferguson could be Emma Peel's even more lethal cousin. She has absolutely no qualms about taking on a bloke twice her size in a knife fight. She's a crack shot with handguns and sniper rifles. Unarmed, Ilsa takes out her enemies with a variety of acrobatic moves. She could probably break someone's arms with her eyelashes. At the same time, she's intelligent, her sense of humour is deliciously dry and she's clearly not there to go gooey over Ethan Hunt and to fall into his arms. She'd probably break the aforementioned arms with the aforementioned eyelashes. Star power of Tom Cruise notwithstanding, Rebecca Ferguson is easily the best thing in a movie that possesses its own fair share of good things.

Granted, if you like your spycraft only if it's served with a Le Carré level of realism then this latest Mission: Impossible outing will almost certainly send you running for the exit. Then again, so would any of the previous outings in the franchise. For M: I and/or Cruise fans this is, in my opinion, better than Ghost Protocol (which in itself was pretty decent) and has an ace up its sleeve in the amazing Ms Ferguson. It may not draw too many new followers to the series but confirmed Mission: Impossible addicts will find plenty to enjoy.