Fresh from a hugely inventive Russian jail break (director Brad Bird, formerly of Pixar and the brains behind The Incredibles, knows a thing or two about wit and invention), and aware that a known terrorist is hell-bent on detonating a nuclear device, Ethan Hunt and his latest crack squad of Impossible Mission Force members set about breaking into the Kremlin to stop the threat of nuclear armageddon.
That mission goes up in smoke, leaving Hunt and company to figure out how to save the world from nuclear holocaust, without the help of their own government, who have since initiated Ghost Protocol (they've disowned the entire IMF department).
This leaves Hunt with just Paula Patton's leggy agent Jane, Jeremy Renner's shady analyst-cum-secret agent Brandt, and SImon Pegg's Archie, the gadget geek, for company.
(After his stint as the comic relief in M:I3, Pegg is good value as Archie, although his promotion to second billing means delivering lots more one liners and, almost perversely, holding a gun like a real action star.)
The Hurt Locker star Renner, meanwhile, steps up to blockbuster territory quite capably as Brandt, the man who knows a thing or two about Hunt's past in a neat plot twist that, rare for an MI film, connects this instalment to the previous one.
The continuing adventure takes the group from Russia to Mumbai via Dubai, includes multiple car wrecks, a breathtaking sandstorm chase and one of the most astonishing high-rise sequences ever committed to (IMAX) celluloid…
Dubai's Burj Khalifa is around a mile tall, obviously the perfect setting for Cruise (still performing his own stunts) to do something completely nuts - like climb the outside of it.
With Hollywood producers putting their faith in 3D, Bird and Cruise, like Christopher Nolan before them, have realised true awe doesn't require glasses, just a screen the size of a football pitch. Even if that does mean seeing a 30-foot Tom Cruise do THAT run.
As the heroes close in on the villain, the final reel slips a little into the humdrum - almost inevitable, after the mile high club sequence - and the intricacies of the plot become a little confusing by the very end.
Still, it all seems in keeping with the various motifs of the MI series (crazy stunts, computer hacking while hanging from mid-air) and criticisms are in the minority.
Cruise is a filmmaker capable of delivering the kind of action few others would dare to imagine. And Ghost Protocol delivers. And then some. After the stripped-down, core approach of JJ Abrams' previous sequel, Tom Cruise has delivered a movie one might not have thought possible.