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Tue, Aug. 20

Another formulaic Mission Impossible

Terrorist group with cool name. Check.

Kidnapped nuclear weapons expert. Check.

Three nuclear bombs hidden throughout the world. Check.

Only one team can save the world because it doesn’t play nice with MI6, FBI or CIA. Double check.

Action fans, you have seen every possible variation of this plot, its tropes and characters in this installment of Mission. But this film is not about Impossible Missions, it is about Impossible Stunts. Four high-intensity stunts perfectly executed by 56-year-old Tom Cruise, swaddled in unremitting cinematography and back-handed with a hammering musical score. These four stunts are the headliners of the Christopher McQuarrie written-and-directed movie, which are among the most thrilling in the 22-year-old franchise.

For fans of Cruise and all things Impossible, The Syndicate has re-branded itself to the The Apostles but is still under old management with Solomon Lane at the helm from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015). Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team must find three plutonium cores that power the three nuclear weapons and thwart global destruction. Plot: Trite. Stunts: Superb.

Stunt one: Cruise completes a dangerous HALO jump (high altitude/low open) at 25,000 feet with a specially outfitted oxygen mask. Cruise is the first actor to complete the jump on-screen and made the jump 106 times to practice. Kudos to Cruise and a medal to the camera person.

Stunt two: Cruise’s signature motorcycle chase through remarkably sparse streets in a major European city sans helmet.

Stunt three: Cruise just felt like running after suddenly ignoring the ample motorcycles and cars at his disposal. He runs and runs and leaps from building to building ultimately fracturing his ankle in real life. He then tried to run off the injury.

Stunt four: Cruise not only pilots a careening helicopter but he spent two years earning his pilot’s license for the close range, low altitude pursuit scene. Oh and he climbs a 40-foot “long-line” rope dangling precariously from the helicopter at 2000 feet. ‘Cause how else do you get in the chopper?

While most action-thriller films have a few stunts and a few impressive shots, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” sews this stunt-hungry film together with cinematography that grabs you like a shy kid at the school dance and do-si-dos you through bass-charged musical scores. The views are up-close and personal –perfect for 3D rendering.

Now let’s talk about Henry Cavill, who portrays August Walker, the brute you would put money on to pummel “Man of Steel” (2013). Cavil does away with his goody-two-shoes and adds a dashing moustache to the role of Walker under which he sprinkles street-wise grit on his beefy biceps and staunch stature. Walker is far more formidable than Cavil’s characteristic Superman musculature. A deftly choreographed bathroom fight-scene proves that Cavil doesn’t need CGI to get his physical point across. Though Walker is supposed to be a villain, his dry-wit and attentive – yet jaded – demeanor speak more to a guy who is just doing his job and doing it damn well. The moustache proves it.

Cruise Fans will not be disappointed in their cherub-cheeked legend. Never stretched, never challenged in the actual performance, Cruise knows his lane and keeps his asphalt well-maintained. His longevity is due to his discerning palate for select roles that will dazzle his fans and maintain his youth-filled charm. Cruise goes the extra mile (pun intended) to prove to his fans that he’s more than actor. He’s a performer.

Hard-core Action and Thriller fans, you may suffer under the weight of lengthy dialogue that is sandwiched between each of the four stunt sequences. The droning dialogue is like a tour guide that explains the rationale and basis for each stunt without actually showing the sequences that lead to each situation. Award-winning McQuarrie and producer, J.J. Abrams, have delivered innovation in imagination-extending film and television with the likes of “The Usual Suspects” and “Westworld”. It is hard to believe that these masters shoved every lazy action-thriller trope into the 2-hour-plus runtime. From the 15-minutes-until-they-blow-bombs, confused wire cutting, the ballsy dame who calls the shots and is smitten with the hero, to fighting over the detonator. Feel free to make a drinking game of the number of double-crossings that occur which are not interesting or astonishing for connoisseurs of the genre.

Dedicated Cruise Fans – 4 out of 4 Missions

Folks who like great action and a good-enough plot – 3 out of 4 Missions

Hard Core Action/Thriller Fans who pick movies apart with real-world sensibility – 1 out of 4 Missions


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