Tom Cruise continues to get cooler with age, and the same can be said of secret agent Ethan Hunt (the character he’s made famous now five times, soon to be for a sixth). He’s James Bond without all the puns, Jason Bourne without all of the political posturing, and Guy Smiley without all the pedantic wordsmithing. Director Christopher (Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher) McQuarrie continues the other tradition of the Mission: Impossible film series by one-upping the previous film, which after the third one (and then the fourth one) seemed to be an impossible task in itself. Somehow, he has proven the world wrong, as his predecessors before him had done in years past.
Returning to the big screen are Jeremy (the Avengers franchise, The Town) Renner, Simon (the Star Trek franchise, Shaun of the Dead) Pegg, and Ving (Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead) Rhames, all playing significantly more crucial roles than their previous incarnations, helping Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt go up against not only a shadow operation, but also the CIA. Led by screen legend Alec (The Departed, The Edge) Baldwin, Hunt must romance Rebecca (The White Queen, Hercules) Ferguson and defeat Sean (Prometheus, Harry Brown) Harris, all the while never losing his cool and trying his best not to fail and die at every turn. The action begins about five seconds into the film and doesn’t let up until the final credits roll.
The greatest strength with this film is not the non-stop action, although that is a distinct bonus. What sets it aside from the other four films (which also have that very same characteristic, as do nearly all of Cruise’s action flicks spanning the last three decades) is the inclusion of two things: a top-notch script and some well-used supporting cast members. The villain is never over-the-top in this one, which makes him believable and that much scarier. The political intrigue and implications this go-around seem to be more of an actual threat, making it seem as if the bad guys might actually plausibly win this time, which makes the stakes higher. And there aren’t an over-abundance of additional cast members, so the character development is not only well-paced, but enjoyable. There is also a nice nod to the original series, possibly setting up a shared universe for super fans, which is always a nice little Easter Egg for fans of multiple viewings. Cruise may not play a comic book superhero in any of his films, but with movies like this, he is proving that he might actually be one in real life. This is a perfect movie.