Most of Tom Cruise’s recent movies have sputtered at the boxoffice, but the “Mission: Impossible” franchise has remained a reliable fallback vehicle for him, and with “Rogue Nation” it proves its value in that capacity once again. Christopher McQuarrie’s film goes on too long, with at least one too many prolonged chases and fights, but is still expertly mounted, enjoyably old-fashioned, action-packed cloak-and-dagger hokum. Of course, one could say the same thing about Paramount’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which tanked, but then it lacked the “MI” brand.

McQuarrie has taken a page here from the James Bond playbook, opening with a sizzling action prologue in which Cruise’s Ethan Hawke hangs on the side of a plane that’s taking off while techno-expert Benji Dunn (Simon Page) desperately tries to break through computer encryption to open a door for him. Expertly choreographed and crisply edited, the sequence sets a high bar which, following a nifty twist on the old TV show’s patented opening and a rather conventional torture-and-escape sequence, is met by the first big set-piece, set at a Vienna opera performance of “Turandot,” where an assassination is planned. It’s clearly inspired by the Royal Albert Hall finale of Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” but one couldn’t ask for a better model, and McQuarrie, Cruise, cinematographer Robert Elswit, stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood and editor Eddie Hamilton pull it off with aplomb.

But therein lies one of the film’s major problems: it begins with its best. Hitchcock was canny enough to save his flamboyant musical sequence as his movie’s capper, but McQuarrie’s structure requires each of his succession of extravagant action scenes to top the preceding one. That doesn’t happen. It’s not as though the makers don’t try. The follow up the Vienna segment with two wild episodes in Morocco, one involving a dangerous underwater theft of a computer file and the other a protracted car-and-motorcycle chase, and then move on to a bunch of twists back in London that culminate in yet another hostage situation and a final foot chase, complete with knife fights and gunfire, that by the two-hour mark feels like a case of been-there, seen-that.

The complicated plot gyrations of the final reels are all parts of Hunt’s obsessive mission to bring down The Syndicate, the movie’s equivalent of Spectre, a group of malefactors led by a mysterious fellow (Sean Harris), whose henchmen include a brute called the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten) and a beautiful femme fatale named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Faust). But Ilsa proves s highly fickle person, sometimes serving The Syndicate’s interests but more often acting as an ally to Hunt, Pegg (who comes out of desk duty to help him), and two other members of the IMF—boss William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and all-around-expert Luther (Ving Rhames). And in the second-half British episodes, the action also involves Atlee (Simon McBurney), the head of MI5, and the PM himself (Tom Hollander).

Adding another later of complexity to the convoluted narrative is the hostility of CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) to the IMF. He convinces a Senate oversight committee that the unit is uncontrollable and succeeds in having it dissolved and the majority of its personnel folded into his agency. For most of “Rogue Nation,” he’s convinced that the Syndicate is just a figment of Hunt’s imagination and that Ethan himself has gone rogue. During virtually the whole tortured operation portrayed in the film, therefore, he and the considerable assets of the CIA are arrayed in an attempt to deal with the renegade Hunt with extreme prejudice, as the saying goes, adding yet another level to the goings-on.

Frankly all the obfuscation and double-and-triple dealing in McQuarrie’s script can get confusing at times; it’s useful to recall that he wrote “The Usual Suspects.” But it’s all worked out satisfactorily y the close, even though swallowing the story requires a heavy suspension of disbelief. Of course, it can hardly be argued that “Mission: Impossible,” in whatever medium, has ever been a model of logic or credibility, so this installment follows an established pattern in that regard.

The movie also confirms that Ethan Hunt remains Cruise’s signature role. Even in his early fifties, he’s remarkably fit, and handles the physical demands efficiently; his stern but still boyish demeanor continues to be perfect for the character, too. Pegg’s contribution is ratcheted up this time to excellent effect, and Baldwin adds welcome comic bluster to the overbearing CIA chief. Though Renner and Rhames get less opportunity to shine, both have some nice reaction shots, and Harris makes a suitably nasty villain. McBurney, meanwhile, brings a delightfully effete note to Atlee, while Ferguson, in a star-making turn, proves a formidable co-star for Cruise, alluring while keeping him—and the audience—uncertain of Ilsa’s motives. The technical side of the picture is top-flight down the line, with Elswit reveling in the Austrian, Moroccan and British locations, while Joe Kraemer’s score happily takes advantage of Lalo Schifrin’s TV theme at regular intervals.

As for McQuarrie, his direction doesn’t show the panache of Brian De Palma or John Woo, who helmed the franchise’s first two installments; it’s more direct and functional, akin to J.J. Abrams’s and Brad Bird’s work in the third and fourth installments. But the more classical approach is well suited to material that, for all its contemporary spin with tracking satellites and computer gizmos, is really old-school at heart. “Rogue Nation” proves that this is one franchise that can keep on running as long as its star can.