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"MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT"
(2018) (Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: Top secret government ops try to stop terrorists from getting their hands on plutonium they intend to use to create nuclear bombs that will destabilize the current world order.
PLOT:
Despite having previously put former government agent turned terrorist Solomon Lane (SEAN HARRIS) behind bars, Ethan Hunt's (TOM CRUISE) work is not done. Lane's followers, known as The Apostles, have become terrorists for hire and are now after plutonium they intend to use in nuclear bombs to create a new world order. With marching orders from Alan Hunley (ALEC BALDWIN), the former CIA director turned Secretary of the IMF -- the top-secret Impossible Missions Force of the U.S. government -- Ethan and his small team -- comprised of field agent Benji Dunn (SIMON PEGG) and computer hacker Luther Stickell (VING RHAMES) -- set out to stop that from happening. But by saving Luther's life, Ethan ends up losing three small containers of the radioactive element.

Accordingly, new CIA director Erica Sloan (ANGELA BASSETT) isn't happy and assigns one of her assassins, August Walker (HENRY CAVILL), to accompany Hunt to find an arms dealer known only as John Locke and thus get that plutonium back. But just when they're nearly finished getting a facial scan of the man they believe to be Locke, things quickly turn sideways and Hunt's former adversary turned ally, MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (REBECCA FERGUSON), kills that man to save Hunt's life.

Unable to complete the facial scan and thus create a lifelike mask, Ethan instead pretends to be the man to meet a dealmaker known only as the White Widow (VANESSA KIRBY). She informs him that she can arrange for the delivery of the plutonium in exchange for the release of Solomon, something that doesn't sit well with Hunt for obvious reasons. With Ilsa also after that man and Hunt worried about her safety much as he did with his former wife, Julie (MICHELLE MONAGHAN), he and his team do what they can to foil the efforts of the various villains, all while preventing the deployment and use of the nuclear bombs.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
In a recent red carpet interview for his sixth appearance playing the protagonist Ethan Hunt in the long-running "Mission: Impossible" film series, star Tom Cruise was asked whether he was ever told by the producers that he wouldn't be allowed to perform a dangerous stunt himself. With a sly smile and a twinkle in his eye, he said no that hasn't happened as he's one of the executive producers on the film and that would mean essentially telling himself no.

Of course, the reporter's question wasn't without merit. After all, the now 56-year-old actor has become known for his devil-may-care (and some may say death wish based) approach to performing his own stunts, be that dangling from a mountain precipice (in the first sequel), holding his breath for an incredibly long, single shot take (in "Rogue Nation"), running along the vertical glass walls of the Burj Khalifa one-hundred-plus stories in the sky (in "Ghost Protocol") or hanging onto the side of an Airbus A400 that lifts off from the runway (also in "Rogue Nation").

While he has final say in what he will do or otherwise leave to a professional stuntman (which doesn't seem like much), I can't even begin to imagine what the insurance premiums are for him doing such work in these films. And whatever that amount is, it's surely going to climb after such a stunt in "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" went awry.

Despite not remotely being the most outrageous bit in the film (those would be skydiving from an altitude of 25,000 feet and piloting a chopper by himself through some perilous terrain), he attempted to jump from one building rooftop to another, came up a bit short, and busted his ankle. All of which resulted in an eight-week work stoppage where the rest of the cast and crew were still paid, resulting in a just recently reported multi-million dollar addition to the already sizeable budget.

Thankfully the failed jump didn't go for naught and has been included in the final cut, all of which proves that few if any actors give it their all like Cruise. That's evident in every frame of this action-packed offering that should leave most if not all viewers completely enthralled and often at the edge of their seats with sweaty palms, especially knowing that what they're watching is the real deal.

And that's what makes this flick, like its immediate predecessors (as compared to the middle installments of this franchise), so entertaining to behold. Yes, the plot isn't anything particularly special and certainly not novel (a bunch of secret government agents tries to prevent the bad guys from making and deploying nukes), and it might be a bit unnecessarily convoluted for a pic like this.

But returning director Christopher McQuarrie -- who also wrote the script -- clearly knows his way around staging gripping and enthralling action scenes, be they a bare-knuckle fistfight in a men's restroom to a motorcycle chase through Paris and eventually the aforementioned chopper sequence.

All of those (and more) bookend the various story elements where Hunt and his team (a returning Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) end up losing three pods of plutonium and must then find those again in order to stop the main villain from the last film (Sean Harris) from creating chaos and supposedly a new world order by setting off some nukes.

Complicating matters is that the new CIA director (Angela Bassett) doesn't trust that Hunt and his team will get the job done (equating their usual tactics to Halloween style dress-up -- a reference to the masks they sometimes wear to fool others, something that thankfully still occurs here).

Accordingly, she's deployed her own hammer (Henry Cavill) to get the job done regardless of the fallout that may result. At the same time, Hunt's former nemesis turned ally (Rebecca Ferguson) is back and wants the main terrorist dead, all while a new criminal broker (Vanessa Kirby) may or may not be behind all of this.

There's clearly nothing new under the sun with that setup, but McQuarrie spins and polishes just enough of it that we don't mind traveling down the familiar path. Besides, much of it's present simply to hang the film's impressive action sequences on and thus it all works well.

While many action films resort to quick edits and other such trickery to cover their aging star's diminishing abilities, that's not the case here. While I'm sure some manipulation is present, it's otherwise pretty much what you see is what you get. And that's a performer who gives it one hundred and ten percent all of the time.

If you love action films where everything looks real (and you go in knowing most of it was during shooting) and provides edge of your seat thrills and chills, you won't be able to do much better than this. Although it gets knocked a point or two for not having a script to match the terrific action, "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" is still an entertaining ride that's near impossible to resist. It rates as a 7 out of 10.




Reviewed July 23, 2018 / Posted July 27, 2018


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