Tom Cruise is back in the sixth installment of the reigning, defending heavyweight champion of action franchises

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A breathless, breakneck blast of pure summertime thrills, "Mission: Impossible-Fallout" is an action junkie's dream come true. Soak it in like a day at the beach, because big time blockbuster filmmaking is rarely this well executed or more satisfying. 

Tom Cruise is back, looking awesome (does he age?) and risking his life for your entertainment as Ethan Hunt, the Impossible Missions Force superspy who's once again trying to save the world from a dastardly terrorist plot. This one involves some plutonium and the annihilation of millions of lives; in other words, it's a normal day at the office for Mr. Hunt.

What it's really about is a smattering of masterfully executed action set pieces, and "Fallout" has some absolute stunners, meeting or exceeding the already high bar the series has set for itself. (To be fair, the dizzying Burj Khalifa sequence in "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" still stands as a series high point, but several "Fallout" sequences rival it.)

Along for the ride are series regulars Ving Rhames (on board since the first "Mission"), Simon Pegg (who joined the squad in "3") and Alec Baldwin (who debuted in "5"). New to the fold are Angela Basset, who plays CIA director Erica Sloane, and Henry Cavill, the "Superman" brick wall who looks like a bulked up Armie Hammer, as CIA muscle whom Sloane assigns to tag along with Hunt. (Jeremy Renner, who was in the last two "Missions," sits this one out, just as he was on the sidelines for "Avengers: Infinity War." Someone needs to get on the phone with his agent, just saying.)

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, a Cruise pal since he penned 2008's "Valkyrie," has become Cruise's closest creative partner in recent years, writing the scripts for "Edge of Tomorrow" and "The Mummy," and writing and directing "Jack Reacher" and 2015's "Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol."

Here, McQuarrie's script delivers some delicious double and triple crosses; remember, this is the guy who won an Oscar for "The Usual Suspects," so he knows a thing or two about pulling one over on an audience.

And his direction makes references to not only "Mission: Impossibles" past (the rock climbing sequence from "M:I-2" gets a nod) but also Christopher Nolan's "Batman" films and the bathroom brawl from James Cameron's "True Lies." 

Against the threat of nuclear Armageddon, Hunt skydives in a lightning storm, turns the streets of Paris into his personal motorcycle track, runs through most of London by foot (what would a Tom Cruise vehicle be without a heart-stopping scene of Cruise running?) and winds up in a helicopter chase through the Himalayas.

The action is so riveting it excuses a standard issue climactic device involving a ticking bomb countdown, recurring references to something called a "microwave transponder" and cheese-dipped dialogue such as, "the plutonium is still out there!"

Because with Cruise in full go-hard-or-go-home mode — the rooftop stunt where he broke several bones during production is included in the finished product — there's nothing to do but sit back in awe of a movie star going this far to please audiences. Dwayne Johnson, take note. 

Since the first "Mission," which Brian De Palma directed the living daylights out of, the "Mission: Impossible" series has been the smart moviegoers' popcorn franchise of choice. (The only dud in the series is John Woo's second installment.)

"Fallout" — the longest "Mission," at just under two and a half hours — not only lives up to its predecessors, it's one of the best action films in years, and it's still only the third best entry in the series (behind "4" and "1," respectively). Bless this franchise, we're truly not worthy. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama 

 

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'

GRADE: A

Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language

Running time: 147 minutes

 

 

 

 

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