‘M:I — Rogue Nation’ Review

Franchise's Fifth Film Full of Action, Suspense

Your move, James Bond.

Ethan Hunt makes a triumphant return in “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” setting the bar sky-high for Bond’s fall adventure “Spectre.”

Near impossible stunts. Spy plot twists that will keep you guessing and a mite confused. Gadgets galore. And a female co-star who can hold her own against our hero … and then some.

The IMF team (that’s the Impossible Missions Force for the uninitiated) does it all while reminding us Tom Cruise is one of the last true-blue movie stars. How he never seems to age might be a worth a spinoff documentary all its own.

The fifth “M:I” finds Hunt’s crew at the mercy of the U.S. government. Sure, they keep saving the world, but they often leave a mess along the way. That won’t do for a bloviating bureaucrat played by Alec Baldwin. He’s shutting the team down, now, but not before Cruise’s Hunt goes missing.

Hunt is on the prowl of a The Syndicate, a shadowy organization with deep terrorist ties. Some think the group doesn’t exist. Hunt knows better, and he understands their activities could imperil millions.

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The first three “M:I” installments offered solid entertainment, but the notion of a fourth installment felt superfluous. The 2011 feature “Ghost Protocol” rebooted the franchise, much like “Fast 5” did by introducing us to a diverse band of anti-heroes.

Ferguson is formidable and feminine, a delicate balance that never wavers.

Hunt is still the hero – the film’s gripping opener reminds us of that fact. Cruise shrewdly doles out precious screen time to returning cast members Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner. They’re all fine foils, but the trophy for Best Series Newcomer goes to Rebecca Ferguson as the feisty spy whose allegiances change in every scene. Ferguson is formidable and feminine, a delicate balance that never wavers. Give her a spinoff film and watch the crowds line up. Yes, she’s that good.

So are the film’s action sequences, although adjectives seem perfunctory while describing the signature motorcycle chase. It’s clearly Cruise jetting by at breakneck speeds, and you’ll tug on an imaginary seat belt long before the sequence wraps.for-teens

Director and co-writer Christopher McQuarrie (“Jack Reacher”) flashes a nimble sense of what makes a spy movie tick. Our heroes must win the day, but they can look haggardly along the way. McQuarrie’s visual style is crisp, not dizzying, the visual jokes layered throughout do nothing to sap the sense of impending doom.

The slick screenplay suggests larger themes like the immorality of modern spy games and the perils of unchecked power. It never takes them, or the story, seriously enough to distract from the action afoot. And kudos to Sean Harris, who barely speaks above a whisper as the film’s nasty villain. He’s scary and sobering, a fine match for the IMF.

“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” is a near flawless popcorn movie. Yes, there are some plot holes even Hunt couldn’t leap, but audiences won’t mind. They’ll be gripping their armrests for a good two hours.

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