Impossible as it sounds, Tom Cruise has done it again with THE best action/adventure blockbuster mainstream movie of the summer: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION. I would not steer you wrong–this thing works on every level, from its trademark opening action sequence, a ridiculously over the top piece of derring-do which finds Tom hanging off the side of a giant jet in flight!!! (And remember, that at age 147, Tom continues to do most if not all of his own stunts.) Then things immediately quiet down, and Tom appears done for. But of course it’s the beginning of the film and that can’t happen, so he’s clearly set up for the most impossible mission of his life.

Against all odds, IMF agent Ethan Hunt must prove that the evil Syndicate he and his team have been battling for five films now, really exists, while everyone in the known universe is out to get him: the CIA who has renounced him, the Syndicate, local law enforcement in the dozens of countries he criss crosses the globe, and a new sidekick– who may or may not BE on his side. One thing’s certain–she has some serious skills.

This friend or foe is one “Ilse Faust” played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, a lithe bundle of karate chops and choke holds who can leap tall men with a single bound and a few swift kicks. Ethan doesn’t know whose side she’s on and her impenetrable visage offers few clues. She’s tough as nails and it’s quite refreshing to see a powerful female figure who isn’t required to play both killer and sex kitten.

The plot thickens, and then thickens some more. But the film does a good job of recapping the key points so you can follow the multiple twists and turns. It keeps you interested in between the freakishly elaborate car and motorcycle chases, tight scrapes, and one fantastically suspenseful underwater sequence that literally took my breath away.

We also get a little opera with our espionage. An elaborate action sequence unfolds at the Vienna Opera House during a live performance of Puccini’s “Turandot.” At the climax of the opera while the tenor is scaling some of the highest notes in his register during the famous aria “Nessun Dorma” (“Nobody shall sleep”) we find our hero scaling the scaffolding high above the stage, trying to interrupt an assassination. The scene clearly pays homage to Hitchcock’s masterful and unequaled climactic scene in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH which takes place in London’s Albert Hall as the orchestra is about to deliver a cymbal crash that will muffle an assassin’s gunshot. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie is no Alfred Hitchcock, but he gets an A for effort.

Bravo Tom Cruise who somehow seems as fresh, feisty, fearless, and formidable as ever, and his team–the underutilized Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames, the always entertaining Alec Baldwin, and Sean Harris as the insidiously menacing villain–for once again pulling off the impossible 5th film in the franchise that just won’t quit, and in fact keeps getting harder, better, faster, stronger…! For a wildly fun, mindless night out at the movies don’t miss MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION.

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