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Mission: Impossible Fallout ***1/2

Another spectacular entry in what is probably the best action franchise in movies today. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

No actor working today is more bold, courageous and daring than Tom Cruise. We thought it was cool when he climbed the outside of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in the fourth “Mission: Impossible.” Then he literally hung off the side of a plane at the start of the franchise’s next installment. That was mere child’s play compared to what he does in the sixth film, the supremely entertaining “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.”

Here he jumps out of an airplane at 25,000 feet and opens his parachute at 2,000 feet (called a “HALO” (high altitude, low opening) jump). Later, after a helicopter takes off, he climbs up a rope descending from the copter in order to get on board. Once on board, he pilots the copter himself, including a steep descent and 360-degree spin. Yes, he really does all these stunts himself. We take it for granted when he also rides a motorcycle against Paris traffic in an audacious chase; to him (and us viewers) it’s almost routine, and we lose sight of the fact that this sequence would be the highlight of a normal action movie.

This doesn’t happen without bumps and bruises, of course. It was widely reported in August 2017 that Cruise broke his ankle while jumping onto a rooftop in London (production shut down for two months afterward). I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: Thank you, Tom, for literally risking your life for our entertainment.

Best of all, he does these crazy stunts in pretty darn good movies. Picking up two years after the events of the last film, “Rogue Nation,” villain Solomon Lane’s (Sean Harris) disciples are planning to simultaneously detonate three nuclear weapons in heavily populated cities. It’s up to Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team (Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) to intercept the sale of plutonium before it’s too late. At least, this is what the exposition tells us. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie gives us a plot twist before the opening credits that you will not see coming, and the movie only gets better from there.

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In addition to Cruise, Rhames and Pegg, also returning are Alec Baldwin as Secretary of the IMF Alan Hunley, Rebecca Ferguson as Mi-6 agent Ilsa Faust, and Michelle Monaghan as Ethan’s ex-wife, Julia. New to the franchise are Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret on “The Crown”) as a black market broker, Henry Cavill as a CIA assassin, and Angela Bassett as his boss. Figuring out whom to trust (or not), is part of the fun, as are the worldly locations and futuristic technology.

Collectively, the “Mission: Impossible” movies represent (arguably) the best action franchise in the film industry today, and “Fallout” only strengthens that assertion. Its action scenes showcase tremendous imagination largely without the aid of visual effects trickery, and they are riveting. We’re talking palms sweating, “oh-my-goodness wow that’s awesome” riveting, and because you’re engaged with the story as well, it means something. You are wholeheartedly encouraged to see “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” on as big a screen as you can, and not miss out!

Did you know?
For more on the stunts, check out this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_aCOQi5tm4

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