Mission Accomplished

Tom Cruise once again delivers a stunt-filled, pulse-pounding extravaganza like no other

Tom Cruise is his maniac self in Mission Impossible: Fallout, the sixth installment in his steady franchise and proof that the actor is spectacularly certifiable. The movie is one "Wow!" moment after another, with Cruise showing no signs of slowing down, more than halfway through his fifth decade.

The movie stacks stunt after stunt featuring Cruise doing everything from jumping out of airplanes, to scaling cliffs, to piloting his own helicopter. It also features Cruise leaping from one rooftop to another and breaking his ankle against a building; that stunt shut down production for weeks but remains in the film in all its bone-breaking glory.

Do we really care about the plot when some of the best stunts and action scenes ever put to film are in play? Thankfully, the plot is the sort of fun, twisted story that has become the hallmark of this series, so you'll be interested even when Cruise isn't risking his life. Yes, there's a lot of "Hey, haven't I seen that before?" moments (lots of masks being ripped off), but the labyrinthian hijinks still feel fresh overall. No, I'm not going to do much to explain it. That wouldn't really do you any good.

OK, I'll tell you a little. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) finds himself on yet another mission 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 welcomed return. This time, Hunt is saddled with an "observer" in August Walker (Henry Cavill), tasked by CIA director Erica Sloan (a so-so Angela Bassett) with making sure Ethan and the IMF complete their mission with minimal funny stuff.

Cruise is sick in the head for a myriad of reasons. Thankfully, one part of his sickness provides for movie stunts like the ones mentioned above. Cruise, in reteaming with frequent Cruise director Christopher McQuarrie (now the only director to have helmed two MI films), manages to pull off his 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. There's a motorcycle chase through Paris streets that demands you see this thing on an IMAX 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. The guy is a multi-dimensional badass here, especially in a bathroom brawl where Walker and Hunt try to take out a worthy opponent. Cavill shares in the glory of some of the film's craziest stunts. That's not him skydiving, though. Cruise, also a producer on the film, forced Cavill to watch that sequence from the ground in favor of a stunt double.

Alec Baldwin, the original Jack Ryan, takes a break from hosting Match Game to show that he can still throw some big screen punches as Hunt's new IMF commander. Vanessa Kirby is sinisterly terrific as White Widow, a sly arms dealer Hunt must confront. In her second go round, Rebecca Fergusson's Ilsa Faust adds many elements of surprise. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames deliver their usual, competent support. And while it's not technically a cast member, Lorne Balfe's score deserves a big round of applause for its adrenaline-inducing contributions.

No matter how many dollars this movie makes, Cruise is going to have to slow down at some point. In some ways, Mission Impossible: Fallout feels like it could be the franchise capper. It's hard to think of any way Cruise can top what he puts on screen, action wise, in Fallout. Then again, I probably started saying stuff like that when the original Mission Impossible came out. Never underestimate the chance of Cruise topping himself, yet again, in the future.

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