Most film franchises never make it to five installments; and if they do, the fifth is usually a shadow of the original, going straight to video. Luckily, Mission: Impossible has been able to carefully avoid that fate like it was an elaborate laser grid. A revitalization four years ago has breathed new life into the series of films, and the latest chapter – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – is a hit with critics and audiences. Anyone surprised by the continued success of the franchise need look no further than the phenomenal cast and crew for an explanation.

Let’s start with Director Christopher McQuarrie, who’s taking over for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’s Brad Bird. McQuarrie is one of the best co-writers in the business, having worked with Bryan Singer on The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie. Lately, he’s been getting comfortable in the director’s chair, having directed Tom Cruise in 2012’s Jack Reacher. That’s not to say that you can get McQuarrie to keep his hands off of a script, as he also wrote Rogue Nation’s screenplay. The movie’s plot, however, was conceived by Drew Pearce; the man who co-wrote Iron Man 3 and polished scripts for Pacific Rim and Godzilla.

Now let’s talk about the film’s star, Tom Cruise. Despite what you may think about his personal life, Tom Cruise is one of the greatest actors of our time. He’s 53 (although you’d never know it by looking at him), still a major movie star, and hasn’t really had a movie flop since Legend in 1985.  Even if Cruise had just been an average actor before the filming of Rogue Nation, he’d still be a legendary action star after the stunts he performed on his latest film. In addition to performing his own driving stunts in a BMW M3, Cruise also learned how to hold his breath for SIX MINUTES to film an underwater scene free of edits or cutaways. However, none of that compares to Cruise strapping himself to the outside of an Airbus A400M Atlas for scenes shot as the plane was taking off and while it was 5,000 feet in the air. He even performed fight scenes on the exterior of the plane, making for some mind-boggling stunts-within-stunts.

Of course, Ethan Hunt would be nothing without his crack team helping him to take down the shady and skilled operatives known collectively as The Syndicate. Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg return as agents William Brandt and Benji Dunn, respectively, and Ving Rhames is back for the fifth time as Luther Stickell. Once again playing a stern government employee is Alec Baldwin; this time portraying CIA Director Alan Hunley, responsible for disbanding the “disgraced” IMF. Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules, The White Queen) joins the cast as Ilsa Faust, a disavowed British agent and current Syndicate member who mysteriously/seemingly helps Ethan take down her organization. Sean Harris (Prometheus, The Borgias) stars as the head of that organization, Solomon Lane; if I said anymore, I’d have to kill you (and I’d probably ruin the movie).

Audiences will not only be thrilled to see Tom Cruise strapped to the side of an aircraft, but also to see how Ethan Hunt and his IMF team take down their most skilled enemy yet while on the outs with the U.S. Government. Find showtimes and tickets for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation here.