Bone-rattling fun

New Mission Impossible never lets up

Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Tom Cruise is his maniac self in Mission: Impossible Fallout, the sixth installment in his steady franchise and further proof that the actor is certifiable, spectacularly so. The movie stacks thrill after thrill with Cruise as his own stuntman doing everything from jumping out of airplanes to scaling cliffs to piloting a helicopter. It also features Cruise leaping from one rooftop to another and breaking his ankle against a building; an accident that shut down production for weeks but remains in the film in all its bone-crunching glory.

So, should anyone really care about a plot when some of the best stunts and action scenes ever put to film are in play? Thankfully, if you do, the film features the sort of fun, twisted story that has become a hallmark of this series, so you’ll be interested even when Cruise isn’t risking his life. Yes, there are a lot of, “Hey, haven’t I seen that before?” moments (more masks being ripped off), but the labyrinthine hijinks feel fresh overall.

I won’t give away much, other than to say that superspy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Missions Force crew find themselves on yet another assignment to save the world, this time from nuclear terrorists headed by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the baddie from the franchise’s prior installment making a welcome return. This time, Hunt is saddled with an “observer” in CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill), tasked by CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) with making sure Ethan and the IMF complete their mission with minimal funny stuff.

Christopher McQuarrie (the only director to have helmed two Mission: Impossibles) has directed and/or written for Cruise on many films (Jack Reacher, The Mummy, etc.) and the two collaborate here on some of their most spectacular cinematic feats yet. The skydive sequence—where Hunt must work to save an unconscious co-jumper before they go splat—is a thousand strains of unbelievable. And there’s a motorcycle chase through Paris streets that demands you see this thing on an IMAX or XD screen.

Cavill, whose facial hair has gotten a lot of attention this past year, gets a chance to stretch out and play someone far more interesting than his Kryptonian dud (with CGI-removed mustache) in the Justice League. Cavill shares in the glory of some of the film’s craziest stunts, and the guy is a multidimensional badass here, especially in a bathroom brawl where Walker and Hunt try to take out a worthy opponent.

Alec Baldwin takes a break from hosting Match Game and shows that he can still throw some big-screen punches as Hunt’s new IMF commander. Vanessa Kirby is sinister and terrific as White Widow, a sly arms dealer Hunt must confront. In her second go round as Ilsa Faust, Rebecca Ferguson adds many elements of surprise, as do fellow IMF teammates Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, who deliver their usual competent support. Additionally, Lorne Balfe’s score deserves a big round of applause for its adrenaline-inducing contributions to the action.

In some ways, Mission: Impossible – Fallout feels like it could be the franchise capper. It’s hard to imagine Cruise, now 56, can top the onscreen action here. Then again, I probably started saying stuff like that when a mid-30s Cruise starred in the franchise’s first installment, so it’s not like it’s impossible.