Almost "impossible" to believe this is Tom Cruise's fifth installment in this "Mission" series --- and they keep getting better. Ethan Hunt (Cruise), an IMF agent who seemingly can't be stopped, is at it once again, even though the organization has been disbanded by the CIA.


Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the current CIA director, is not happy with Hunt and his rogue ways. He wants Hunt brought in, but Ethan has other plans --- like finding the head of The Syndicate, a group of former spies from various countries who are responsible for tragedies worldwide. Hunley doesn't believe The Syndicate exists, but Hunt has witnessed their work first hand.


From the opening sequence we've all seen on TV --- unless you've been living under a rock --- showcasing Cruise's immense prowess for his own stunts while hanging onto the side of an airplane while it's taking off, to the final minutes, "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" is one exhilarating thrill ride. Cruise is in top form and has never looked better.


Though he may be a little more crinkled around the eyes, which, on men, is attractive --- on women, not so much --- physically he appears as fit as he has in the past. He's just a fun guy to watch --- and he's funny. The entire film has a great deal of humor, which is a monumental asset to this series.


Cruise is once again joined by Simon Pegg as Benji, Jeremy Renner as William Brandt and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell. These actors work extremely well together and make us believe they're having a blast --- unless they are in dire peril, which is usually Benji's fate.


The femme fatale in "Rogue Nation" is Rebecca Ferguson, playing Ilsa Faust. She's a gorgeous dynamo with slick moves who appears out of nowhere to save Ethan --- more than once. And the uber villain is Solomon Lane played with total eeriness by Sean Harris. Harris possesses one of those creepy and annoying voices --- he's particularly chilling and reserved. Great casting ---


The screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, who also directs and co-wrote the story with Drew Pearce based on the original TV series by Bruce Geller, is taut and full of suspense. Even though the subject is Ethan

Hunt --- and we know nothing untoward can/must happen to him --- McQuarrie has loaded his script with incredible feats of danger and bravado which literally keep you on the edge of your seat.


One of my favorites is the high-speed motorcycle chase around hairpin turns --- yikes! Ethan is chasing Ilsa while the bad guys are after both of them. It's quite a pulse quickener.


Films such as "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" require the ultimate crew, and "Rogue Nation" has four very key returning members: director of photography Robert Elswit, production designer Jim Bissell, editor Eddie Hamilton and visual effects supervisor David Vickery. These artists are paramount to the success of this movie, because without even one of them we wouldn't be treated to the total experience of watching Cruise practically kill himself.


It's a rare anomaly for certain when sequels outperform, but "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" is every bit as exciting and mind-boggling as its predecessors. Summer movie fun at its best.


Opinion: Strong See It Now!




It doesn't seem to matter who directs the "Mission Impossible" films, they always prove to be wildly entertaining. Could it be because the common denominator is Tom Cruise, who at 53 still performs his own stunts, and still has that dazzling smile? Oh, and he can act a bit, too.


It also helps to have a supporting cast with veterans like Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and Alec Baldwin. Relative newcomer Rebecca Ferguson, a Swedish beauty who can handle herself in any action sequence, reportedly did most of her own stunts, as well. She constantly has the audience guessing where her loyalties lie.


"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" has a dynamic opening, as usual. You may know from the trailers that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is desperately hanging onto the side of a cargo plane, as it takes off containing a vital "package" which the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) must secure. Yes, Mr. Cruise actually was tethered to the plane's side, but that's not the only remarkable escapade in his daredevil repertoire.


His motorcycle riding is legendary, and there's a doozy of a chase in this film. He also dives into a veritable abyss of water and must hold his breath for an incredible six minutes. These are very intense scenes, expertly staged and filmed by Oscar winning cinematographer Robert Elswit ("There Will Be Blood").


"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" reunites Cruise with Christopher McQuarrie, who directs, and who also won an Oscar for Best Screenplay ("The Usual Suspects"). Cruise starred in three films written by McQuarrie: "Valkyrie", "Jack Reacher" and "Edge of Tomorrow".


This latest "Mission" is a wild ride --- exciting, thrilling, tense, filled with practically non-stop seamless action, and laced with enough humor to lighten the mood when necessary. There are still a couple of flaws which action films can't seem to get past. First, the villains almost always manage to miss our heroes, even when firing automatic weapons at close range. Secondly, when Hunt leaps through glass windows, at least twice, he walks away with only a slight limp and a few scratches. Oh well, he is Tom Cruise, so we'll let those slide.


"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" is a must see on the big screen. Jeanne and I may revisit it on IMAX. I'll say this: it is vastly superior to all the bloated superhero movies with their extended, tedious fight scenes and unnecessary, overused 3-D effects.


Opinion: Strong See It Now!