Someday, when Tom Cruise is using a walker or in a wheelchair thanks to the running, leaping motorcycle-crashing stunts he’s hurled himself into in these “Mission: Impossible” movies, you’re going to regret not giving the man his props when he was laying it all out there for your movie-going thrills.
Someday, just not today. Because “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” is, right now, everything a summer action pic should be — a delirious procession of stunning stunts, epic brawls, state-of-the-art car chases and ticking clock countdowns.
Throw a bunch of top drawer actors at a plot that’s as topical as the latest meltdowns in Washington, London and a world going mad and this is what you get — high tension, higher stakes, witty banter, pathos, pulse-pounding action beats and more “How in the HELL did they do THAT?” moments than you can count. It’s a robust blast of bullet-and-bloody-fisted machismo, delivered with a healthy dose of lens flare.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is summoned to retrieve missing plutonium and trade it for a nemesis (Sean Harris) he captured, but who still haunts his dreams. He and his team (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg) dash from Paris to London and BFE Pakistan, keeping a testy CIA chief (Angela Bassett) at bay, their Impossible Mission Force boss (Alec Baldwin) on tenterhooks, an arms dealer named White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) on the line and assorted Apostles — anarchists bent on global destruction — on their heels.
Or so one would hope.
There’s a CIA sidekick (Henry Cavill) who might be a great ally or a deadly foe, an MI6 black widow (Rebecca Ferguson) who has “history” with Hunt, and some of the tastiest action film one-liners and exchanges you will ever hear.
Sure, we get lots of “I’m WORKing on it,” and “Just so I’ve got this clear,” “We’re going to have to go it alone” and “I need you to TRUST me.”
But how many movies give us a terrorist manifesto?
“There can never be peace without great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace.”
A favorite exchange — “HOPE is not a strategy.”
“You must be new here.”
Hitchcock always said “Great villains make great thrillers,” and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie of the last “Impossible” mission movie and “Jack Reacher,” found a lulu in Sean Harris. A ginger-haired staple of British films like “’71,” “24 Hour Party People” and “Harry Brown,” he makes a brooding monster of your nightmares.
His Solomon Lane is a messianic fanatic, sparing with his words, hissing his apocalyptic threats and pronouncements. Hunt isn’t the only one whose dreams he’ll haunt.
And Cavill, two-fisted, droll and revealing a sadistic side that his “Man of Steel” never shows, remakes his career with this turn. He’s one bad mutha-hushyourmouth.
I never cease to be amazed by how consistently amazing these movies and their durable star are. Directors change, storylines bend, and yet the dazzle shows up again, every couple of years. James Bond doesn’t have an M:I batting average.
McQuarrie re-connects the films with the action-packed, gadget-riddled 1960s-and-70s TV series this all came from, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” the works.
Hell’s bells, we were going to Paris this fall, but we may have to change our plans. Tom Cruise and McQuarrie have gone and torn the place apart.
And seriously, who could have guessed that Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy, Latin-flavored heart-thumping theme song would endure and delight in a movie 45 years after the TV show was canceled?
“Fallout” earns its pathos from the female leads and its stakes from the sense of mortality Cruise & Co. give it. They –he — let us know they can’t keep doing this forever.
But before he gets too expensive to ensure and too crippled to late-middle-age sprint as if his life — and the world — depends on him, you’d better show some love to Cruise.
The man puts on an action hero clinic every time he dons Ethan Hunt’s shades of black, and you can only hope everybody else who takes a shot at the genre is taking notes.
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language
Cast: Tom Cruise, Angela Bassett, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Sean Harris, Michelle Williams
Credits:Written and directed by Simon McQuarrie. A Paramount release.
Running time: 2:27