There always comes a time when a franchise becomes tired. It is the turn of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), employee of the IMF (the Impossible Mission Force), to make the weight of the quarterly contributions felt on his shoulders.

This temporary weakness that affects a series of films can be a blessing in disguise, paving the way for fantasy, driving away the spirit of seriousness. This is what is happening for this fourth Mission: Impossible. If the scenario is banally effective, the production was entrusted to an unexpected candidate: Brad Bird, who has become, from Iron Giant (1999) to Ratatouille (2007), one of the best directors of animated films . Here he makes his debut in live action – to the extent that the term “real” can be appropriate in this universe where most of the laws of physics have been overturned with digital special effects.

Without quite subverting the rules of the genre, it twists them vigorously enough to produce comic situations, so that M:I 4 becomes a kind of cartoon performed by actors. Ultimately, Tom Cruise, who gets rolled over, falls from dizzying heights, walks through windows without opening them, has more in common with Vile Coyote than with Agent 007.

Recurring gag

It all begins in Budapest, where one of the IMF collaborators is shot dead by a blonde killer named Moreau (Léa Seydoux). She shot him when he was distracted by a beep on his phone alerting him to the approach of a blonde killer. This will be a recurring gag throughout the film. The sophisticated gadgets that allow Ethan Hunt and his comrades to penetrate the most enclosed spaces, to neutralize the toughest enemies, have a propensity to intervene at the wrong time, to glitch at the decisive moment.

After the assassination of Agent Hanaway, Ethan Hunt must be extracted from a Russian prison, where he is serving a sentence. The diet and exercise regime of the Russian prison administration can be cited as a model. At 49, Tom Cruise leaves his cell in dazzling form, which allows him to infiltrate the Kremlin basement a few hours after his release.

As usual, it’s about stopping a mad scientist from blowing up the planet, while overcoming the Russians’ spontaneous distrust of IMF agents. As the operation in the Kremlin ended with the destruction of a good part of the buildings, this distrust is even more acute than usual, to the point that the President of the United States disavows our heroes, now condemned to live under the terms of the “shadow protocol”.

The obligatory tricks (the transfer from one capital to another, the car chases, the sophisticated break-ins, the nuclear countdown) are accomplished without an ounce of conviction, but with a geometric rigor that definitively places the film on the side comedy.