It's also part of the design by writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to let "Mission: Impossible" be "Mission: Impossible" in an old-school sense, with elaborate long cons perpetrated on clueless bad guys (with the occasional wrench in the works) and, in the new school sense, with bad guys pulling the rug out from under our heroes. "Fallout" proves deliberately dizzying, not just with its often vertiginous action, but in its outrageous plotting, its deliriously absurd entanglements of double agents, double crosses, and just plain doubles (wearing those masks that, this time, earn the Impossible Missions Force a derisive comparison to Halloween).
Because those twists drive the picture, it wouldn't be fair to spoil them. Suffice it to say that McQuarrie also wrote and directed 2015's "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," and "Fallout" follows directly from it, retaining most of that film's key characters, including Rebecca Ferguson's British spy Ilsa Faust, Sean Harris' anarchist antagonist Solomon Lane, and Alec Baldwin's IMF boss-man Alan Hunley.
McQuarrie and Cruise are obviously simpatico in planning and executing these giant-scale action films, which finally cracked the code of the hugely successful James Bond franchise. Hunt is the American Bond, a little more cocky than cool, a little more flappable than not. "Fallout" considers, once again, the risks and the costs of what Hunt does, but it also lionizes him as a man who cares as much about one life as about hundreds of millions. Hunt recklessly refuses to believe in the no-win scenario, which makes him just the man to accept "impossible" missions — while also serving as a more appealing hero than those who kill first, ask questions later.
A la the Bond films, "Fallout" travels the world, maximizing fabulous locations (this is a production with the clout to shut down major thoroughfares in Paris) and staging astonishing stunt sequences: hand-to-hand pummelings, shootouts, vehicular mayhem and the sky-high thrills that literalize the title. The whole cast commits (from core team members Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames to newcomers Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett), but none more so than Cruise, worth every penny he earns as star and producer in his audience-pleasing instincts and his willingness to push his body to its limits. It's anyone's guess if Cruise himself will know when he's beat, but when he's truly in the driver's seat, we're in no hurry to find out.
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language. Two hours, 27 minutes.
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