By Bill Wine

By KYW Movie Critic Bill Wine

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The seemingly impossible mission facing Mission: Impossible movie number five is surpassing the entertainment quality of its spectacular predecessor.

After all, Mission: Impossible number 4, otherwise known as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, was certainly the most fully realized and dramatically satisfying of the initial quartet of offerings, a mission impossible to resist with its spirited mix of high-octane action, nosebleed-inducing high stakes, remarkably convincing set pieces of intriguing outlandishness, breathless globetrotting, and breath-catching suspense.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is another glossy, handsomely shot action-oriented espionage thriller pledged to deliver spills and thrills from opening scene to last.

(3 stars out of 4)

(3 stars out of 4)

Tom Cruise returns as the lead agent of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) – sort of a CIA within the CIA – and Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner also return as Hunt’s crew of deep-cover operatives.

Alex Baldwin jumps aboard as the CIA chief who wants to see the IMF disband and Swedish-born Brit Rebecca Ferguson plays a British agent who comes to Hunt’s rescue but with questionable ultimate loyalties.

The IMF’s fight this trip is against the Syndicate, a shadowy network of elite renegade intelligence agents with a terrorist agenda: they’re intent on destabilizing international societies by fomenting unrest and revolution.

The writer-director for this outing is Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for The Usual Suspects. He teams up with Cruise for a fourth time, having written Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow, both starring Cruise, and directed him in Jack Reacher, and even finds time to showcase a sense of humor and include playful references to such classic films as Casablanca and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

With shootouts, knife fights, and exhilarating car chases on the menu, we worry that McQuarrie will let this cerebral franchise installment devolve into a virtual shoot-em-up. But he doesn’t, instead handling the obligatory action with taste and aplomb, and keeping the adrenaline faucet fully open – perhaps to a more-is-less fault. But we stay riveted nonetheless.

And Cruise is a big part of the reason why. He remains an effective leading man, his iconic character tough yet vulnerable. And the longtime star stays committed to impressing his audience with his level of old-fashioned, no-fear commitment and disdain for stunt doubles – which he takes care of right off the bat in the film’s we-dare-ourselves-to-top-this opening action segment.

So should we choose to accept Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation? We should, to the tune of ‘3 stars’ out of 4. Is it the second-best big-screen Mission: Impossible? Possibly.