CALL it testosterone-fuelled recklessness, hubris or feeling the need, the need for speed, Tom Cruise certainly puts on a show in the fifth part of the Mission Impossible franchise.
He clings to the side of an airplane as it takes off, slaloms at speed on a motorcycle and performs death-defying leaps as secret agent Ethan Hunt.
The 53-year-old performs most of these stunts himself, allowing writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to capture every pulse-quickening second in thrilling close-up with minimum digital trickery.
Cruise’s commitment to his role puts fellow action stars to shame – unlike the films of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the script is devoid of wry one-liners poking fun at his age.
McQuarrie, Oscar-winning writer of The Usual Suspects, bookmarks slam-bang action sequences with intentionally ambiguous exchanges between rival operatives, who acknowledge the futility of their efforts as pawns in the spy game.
The film opens with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) hijacking a shipment of nerve gas from Chechen separatists.
Soon after, CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) succeeds in shutting down IMF for disregard of protocol, which led to the destruction of the Kremlin in the previous film.
The hunters are then the hunted when a shadowy organisation known as the Syndicate, led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), targets IMF for extinction.
Hunt covertly reunites with colleagues William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) to bring down The Syndicate using every gadget, ruse and performance vehicle at their disposal.
The operation brings Hunt into contact with undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and her slippery handler (Simon McBurney), a sadistic henchman known as the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten) and the unsuspecting British PM (Tom Hollander).
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is slickly bolted together by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service). Turbo-charged scenes of carnage are punctuated by IMF’s existential crisis in a world that regards their methods as “outdated”.
Cruise tumbles through every frame without breaking sweat, while Pegg, comic relief in the previous instalment, takes a pivotal supporting role.
Ferguson’s femme fatale snaps several limbs and necks in impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences. Humour is sparing, leaving us hungry for another explosion of IMF antics to the pulsating rhythm of Lalo Schifrin’s iconic theme.
On this evidence, Mission: Impossible and its gung-ho leading man won’t be self-destructing any time soon.
Check your local cinema for show times.