After director John Woo’s laughable Mission: Impossible II, I would have never guessed the series would rebound with two fantastic
entries. The decision to entrust the series to rising star directors paid off, as J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird delivered thrills, character and
humor with Mission: Impossible III and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

The fifth entry in the series, Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation, can’t reach the heights of its two predecessors, but it is a fun action film
with a great sense of humor.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Who presumably earned the gig after directing producer/star Tom Cruise in 2012’s Jack
Reacher), Rogue Nation is very much a follow-up to Ghost Protocol in style. It takes itself less seriously than any of the previous films and
McQuarrie seems to take great delight in straddling the line between escapist fun and cheesy comedy.

Rogue Nation works because of its excellent cast, frequent laughs and a few thrilling setpieces.

After being introduced in a fairly minor (but hilarious) role in the third installment, Simon Pegg has increasingly been leaned upon. With his
largest role yet as tech genius Benji Dunn, he delivers an outstanding performance. His comic sensibilities are beyond question, but he
also plays Dunn as an incredibly likeable, sympathetic character. His value to the film is nearly immeasurable.

Cruise is good as always as IMF point man Ethan Hunt, while Ving Rhames returns after only appearing in a small cameo in Ghost Protocol.
It's great to have him back, and he gets to share a few hilarious sequences with Jeremy Renner, who returns as IMF director Brandt.

It’s hard not to feel a sense of nostalgia seeing all these characters together again, and unlike most franchises entering their fourth sequel,
Rogue Nation is as energetic as ever.

This installment works because McQuarrie invests in developing this team of agents, instead of crafting a star vehicle for Cruise. The
interplay between the team is the highlight of the film; elevating it above its obvious flaws.

Rogue Nation’s plot is borderline nonsensical, with endless double crosses, an overreliance on dull exposition and featuring an evil,
shadowy organization and villain that lacks any development beyond being evil and shadowy.

Sean Harris gives a great performance as the merciless, frightening Solomon Lane, but his character lacks any real motivation or direction.

Rebecca Ferguson is also a great addition as the mysterious Ilsa Faust, bringing both charm and physicality to the role. It has been an M:I
tradition to feature a new actress every film, but it would be nice to see her return for the inevitable sixth entry.

It wouldn’t be Mission: Impossible without a daring centerpiece operation, and Rogue Nation features a very good one when the team
infiltrates a facility containing an underwater server system. Hunt’s breathless attempt to switch out a data card within the underwater torus
is a thrilling and suspenseful sequence; well-directed by McQuarrie. It’s not quite as good as the very best in the series (Langley in the
original film, the Vatican in III and the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol), but it’s a gripping sequence nonetheless.

It’s also followed by an adrenaline-pumping motorcycle chase, which is unfortunately marred by a few unsightly CG shots. A few moments
legitimately look like a video game.

The film also receives an outstanding score from composer Joe Kraemer.  Despite the tall task of following in the footsteps of Danny Elfman
and Michael Giacchino, Kraemer may actually deliver the finest score in the series. It’s an orchestral powerhouse that makes exceptional
use of Lalo Schifrin’s classic theme, integrating it seamlessly into his thrilling, sweeping score.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is a flawed film, but one that succeeds thanks to the sheer enthusiasm of McQuarrie and his excellent

Even if it isn’t the franchise’s best installment, Rogue Nation is a fun popcorn thriller, and a worthy addition to the long-running series.

* * *
(out of four)

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg,
Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris

Cinematography by: Robert Elswit

Music by: Joe Kraemer

Released: July 31, 2015; 131 Minutes