This has been a strange film franchise. Kicking off as long ago as 1996, the original attempt to establish a Bond-rivalling series based on the late 60s/early 70s television show was an enjoyable enough guilty pleasure, with Brian De Palma’s knack for establishing tense set-pieces making it adequately memorable. When subsequent sequels by John Woo and JJ Abrams faltered for various reasons, it looked like the law of diminishing returns would consign any further movies to being poor cousins of James Bond and Jason Bourne. However, when Brad Bird embraced the silliness and jettisoned the seriousness with the fourth film, the series seemed to establish a personality of its own. Sticking to that template, Christopher McQuarrie (who worked with star Tom Cruise on the underrated Jack Reacher film) has unexpectedly made perhaps the most enjoyable instalment so far, which is highly unusual for a franchise five films old.

The series has always delivered on its action sequences, even with the weaker instalments, and it’s no slouch this time around. Tom Cruise manages his now-traditional alarming no-stuntman set piece (this time clinging to the side of an actual plane as it takes off), and McQuarrie shows the same great sense of action geography and space establishment that he displayed in Jack Reacher with all the other sequences here. There’s also a nice balance between the film’s star and its strong supporting cast, with a particularly well-sketched role for Rebecca Ferguson that avoids pretty much all the sexist cliches women are often lumped with in this kind of genre. Cruise also brings that now-familiar sense of urgency and purpose that he does so well to the fore, which drives the film along and gives it great impetus. Ultimately, this is a franchise that now has a clear idea what it’s supposed to do and is on a roll of doing it very well, and for all its lack of real originality it’s hard not to be entertained by that.

The same espionage thriller stuff that the series has been doing for almost 20 years now6
Probably the best example of that in the whole franchise though8
Christopher McQuarrie really knows how to stage an action set piece8
Rebecca Ferguson's character is a step forward for female action roles9
I really don't mind how many more of these there are so long as they're this much fun7
Bechdel Test Passes
  • n/a
Bechdel Test Failures
  • Only features one named female character
8Overall Score

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