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He’s bungee jumped, scaled dizzying rock climbing heights in Utah and hung from the world’s tallest building – Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. You’d think there’s nothing left for Tom Cruise to prove when it comes to showing his action chops.
But the acting world’s bravest 53-year-old is back in death-defying form – this time clinging onto an airborne plane – in the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Mission series.
Whereas other franchises normally run out of steam by films four and five, several smart casting and directing decisions have kept Mission motoring along very nicely indeed.
Entry five sees Cruise re-team with his Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie as Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Missions Force take on their most dangerous challenge yet: highly-skilled rogue group the Syndicate.
It’s a testament to the adrenaline-fuelled spy series that Cruise’s much-hyped Airbus A400M plane stunt actually kicks things off – for most action stars this would be the coup de grace.
But what has separated the Mission movies from other big budget blow-outs – and injected them with enough smarts to stay clear of Fast and Furious-style heightened carnage – are their espionage-flavoured plots full of twists, turns and buddy banter.
McQuarrie also co-wrote the script along with Iron Man 3’s Drew Pearce and, while the “good guys being framed as bad guys” storyline is hardly a fresh idea, the pair keep suspense levels high throughout and, perhaps more importantly, don’t overcomplicate things.
They also, wisely, keep their leading man front and centre and test Cruise’s ace agent like never before.
For all the past controversy relating to aspects of his personal life, there’s no questioning Cruise’s status as the biggest movie star on the planet. Keeping up with the times like few others, rather than coasting on his reputation, Cruise entertains the masses like no-one else.
Ethan gets more than a helping hand, though, from returning teammates William ( Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames); Pegg, in particular, is a delight, justifying the most screen time of his three series appearances.
The real surprise is Swede Rebecca Ferguson who provides the franchise’s best female performance – and the closest its had to a Bond girl – as glam-but-deadly double agent Ilsa.
Brit Sean Harris (Solomon Lane) does a fine job as the film’s psychotic antagonist, coming second only to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in the Mission movies’ rogues gallery, and Alec Baldwin (Alan) barks out devilish dialogue as the head of the CIA.
Taking in luxurious locations, scintillating set pieces and nail-biting tension, Rogue Nation maintains the Mission form guide – and leaves you wondering what other methods of neardeath risk-taking Cruise has left up his sleeve.
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