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'Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation' is Cruise-controlled fun, reviews say

'Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation' is Cruise-controlled fun, reviews say
Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation." (David James / Paramount Pictures)

Tom Cruise is the man for the job once again in "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," the fifth installment of the sporadic but long-running spy franchise.

Written and directed by Cruise's frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, "Rogue Nation" finds super-agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) on the run from his own government while trying to take down a terrorist group known as the Syndicate.

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According to movie critics, producer-star Cruise carries out his latest task with dedication, physicality and even a bit of humor, while McQuarrie orchestrates the action and intrigue with aplomb.

The Times' Kenneth Turan writes, "Cruise has been a vigilant steward of the franchise, making sure its various components (including its celebrated Lalo Schifrin theme) never fall below acceptable standards and even pushing to exceed the norm where possible. So it is with the polished and entertaining new film. … Both in front of and behind the camera, 'Rogue Nation' has been smoothly made by people who know just how to get entertainment business done."

Cruise doesn't phone in his fifth performance as super-spy Ethan Hunt, Turan says, and he "sets a new standard for himself" in terms of doing his own eye-popping stunts. Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, meanwhile, "brings a bit of unexpected maturity and substance to the role of the inscrutable Ilsa Faust," a double- or perhaps triple-crossing British agent.

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis agrees that the film "isn't just another clenched-jaw blowout. Sleek and bloated, specific and generic, 'Rogue Nation' is pretty much like most of the 'Impossible' movies in that it's an immense machine that Mr. McQuarrie, after tinkering and oiling, has cranked up again and set humming with twists and turns, global trotting and gadgets, a crack supporting cast and a hard-working star." Speaking of Cruise's cast mates, Simon Pegg brings "valuable comic timing" (as tech whiz Benji Dunn), and Ferguson "holds her own both on the ground and in midair."

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday writes, "Preposterous, playful and shamelessly entertaining, 'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation' obeys the first rule of action thrillers-cum-star vehicles: Take this all too seriously and you're dead meat. Tom Cruise, who delivers a Dorian Gray-like performance in his fifth outing as the Impossible Mission Force's Ethan Hunt, knows this in his preternaturally uncreaky bones."

With Cruise in the spotlight and McQuarrie calling the shots, Hornaday says, " 'Rogue Nation' turns out to be a fleet, well-crafted, effortlessly stylish addition to the 'Mission: Impossible' canon in which outlandish derring-do, risibly arcane stakes and a woefully overlong running time are leavened by an endearing sense of humor that at times approaches high camp."

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr adds, "We come to the 'M:I' movies for the same reasons we came to the original TV show, to see byzantine plots, baroque solutions, and rubber masks." On those counts, he says, "Rogue Nation" delivers. "You can discuss the incongruities on the drive home; while the movie's playing, you're having too much fun getting manhandled by experts."

Chief among those experts is Cruise, "the unironic yet self-aware engine of this series." In the end, Burr says, "It's a giggle and a thrill, and after all these years (and whatever you think of him), Tom Cruise still does it exceptionally well."

For all Cruise's hard work, New York magazine's David Edelstein says that Ferguson is "the best reason" to see "Rogue Nation," a sequel that, he says, "doesn't have the nonsensical lyricism of Brad Bird's stupendous 'Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,' but it's still pretty good. It works best when, like Ferguson, it plays things straight instead of (mis)using Simon Pegg's Impossible Mission Team techie for broad comic relief and Ving Rhames for Lou Grant-like grumpiness."

And if McQuarrie doesn't make the cut as "an unsung action auteur," Edelstein says, he "delivers a corker of a high-speed motorcycle chase" and a "gangbusters" knife fight at the film's climax.

In other words, mission accomplished.

Follow @ogettell for movie news.

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