Paramount           131 Minutes           PG-13

Tom Cruise doesn’t pretend to be a superhero. He’s not superhuman, but he does some pretty superhuman things in this movie with the help of some very cool gadgets.

Cruise, who has produced all the films in this franchise for 20 years, worked closely with Director/co-writer, Chrisopher McQuarrie (Oscar winning The Usual Suspects), and put the star in some of the most challenging situations yet. Want an easy job? Be Cruise’s stunt double. It’s been called the easiest yet because Cruise likes to do them himself!

Interestingly, hanging off the side of plane is what you see in all the trailers. That raised some safety issues, but he’s a pilot himself, and they took extraordinary precautions, including a single harness and special contact lenses to completely cover his eye to protect against particles and wind. They were most afraid of a bird strike, but none happened in 8 takes! Still he exclaimed, “Holy Sh*t! The wind! And it was freezing cold.”  

But he says the underwater scenes were the most grueling. He actually held his breath for more than 3 minutes for multiple takes in some scenes that would give anybody the bends.

Cruise says the reason he started producing this whole series was because he wanted to travel and shoot movies in beautiful locations and bring them to people all over the world. This time he chose Vienna, Morocco and London to show the culture and architecture in each locale.

There have been backstage action sequences in many films, but the Vienna Opera House is an extraordinary setting, especially up in the rigging during a full-scale opera performance. It was just different enough. McQuarrie originally wrote for Ilse, played by Rebecca Ferguson, and Ethan to just walk out the Opera House door, but that wasn’t enough for Tom. He had to make a grander escape.  

Cruise says the car chases in Morocco were dangerous even by his standards and training. He doesn’t think Simon Pegg, in the car with him at the time, realized how much peril they were in hammering down stairs full speed ahead. Cruise couldn’t believe how trusting he was. they spend a lot of time in the car together.  Pegg says they had a blast and they even started playing pranks on each other. They’d turn each other’s seat heater on randomly in sweltering conditions. Then there’s the motorcycle chase which is even more daring weaving in and out of traffic on mountainous hairpin turns. His expertise on a bike is legendary.

But Cruise is emphatic. The story is always most important and he didn’t want to do what had already been done in the previous installments. Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate, which is as highly skilled as the IM. The Syndicate is an evil cabal trying to disrupt the world order at any cost. There seem to be some convenient coincidences to wrap up the tale. Maybe they were thrown in to keep the movie running less than 2 1/2 hours.

Brad Bird, who directed the last film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, turned down doing this one to do Disney’s Tomorrowland. McQuarrie and Cruise collaborated a lot on this one. The director says Cruise would tell him how he would want the audience to react or feel seeing some of the dynamic scenes, and McQuarrie, who says he’s more analytical, would figure out how to execute them. They have great respect for each other and weren’t afraid to try anything more than once.

Their choice for the strong female who could hold her own and an equal in skills as an agent got the part on a 3 minute audition. Rebecca Ferguson, of Swedish/British background, trained for 2 months to do the physically demanding role. She says she like playing Ethan’s match, vulnerable yet kick-ass. Cruise describes her as incredibly charismatic, elegant, powerful and an amazing athlete.

Both she and cruise loved working with the funny Simon Pegg. Both said they only had to look at him and he made them laugh. He’s so funny and witty.

Jeremy Renner is back again and he’s kind of lost in the beginning of the film, but comes back stronger later. Ving Rhame has been in every one of the Mission Impossible films. He’s a dependable member of the team.

Alec Baldwin plays the CIA chief trying to get rid of IMF. Normally good guys turn out to be bad guys, and vice versa, but this has a lot of twists. Cruise says he was also excited to see what Baldwin would bring to this part and he wasn’t disappointed.

Sean Harris is super creepy as the heavy handed head of the Syndicate. Ferguson says she was sort of scared of him, but thinks he’s intensely creative. She never knew what he was going to do which made her feel like a more interesting actress.

Is this worth your bucks? No need for 3D or IMAX to make this action flick any more exciting. We white knuckled more than a few scenes. There is tension throughout and just when you think you have it figured out, look out! And the signature music theme with blaring horns is still there. The score supports the actions well and the theme comes blasting through at just the right times.

No one knows more about this franchise than Tom Cruise. Pegg says Tom is everywhere at all times and that he’s got  this art-form down and says he’s hardworking, focused, dedicated (maybe to a fault when it comes to safety). But Pegg says he’s also a lot of fun! He’s like the American James  Bond. There’s another one in the works. After 20 years, it’s still impossible to stop this mission.