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Film review: Tom Cruise is all action in exhilarating Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise is back for what might just be the best instalment yet of the 20-year-old action franchise with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, in which director Christopher McQuarrie sensibly keeps things firmly focussed on his leading man, writes Damon Smith

Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill in Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Damon Smith

IN 1996, when a fresh-faced, 30-something Tom Cruise accepted his mission to revamp the classic 1960s TV series, it's unlikely he envisioned that he would still be breaking sweat as gung-ho IMF agent Ethan Hunt more than two decades later.

Life is full of surprises and few are as sweet or exhilarating as Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

The sixth and arguably best instalment of the globe-trotting franchise welcomes back writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Usual Suspects, for a suspenseful thriller that unravels tangled narrative threads from the 2015 film, Rogue Nation.

While other blockbusters rely heavily on digital trickery, Fallout places its most expensive special effect, its leading man, in almost every adrenaline-pumping shot.

Cruise performs his own death-defying stunts including riding a motorcycle without a helmet at high speed against the flow of traffic around the Arc de Triomphe, piloting a helicopter during a stomach-churning 360 degree downward spiral, and freefall jumping at 25,000 feet from an aircraft travelling at 165mph.

McQuarrie keeps the camera as close as possible to Cruise so we can appreciate every straining sinewy and split-second decision between life and horrific injury, including a leap between buildings during a climatic chase high above the streets of London, which resulted in the Hollywood star breaking his ankle.

The wince-inducing aftermath of that bone-crunching jump makes the final cut.

IMF's communications might self-destruct after five seconds but Cruise grimly and gallantly endures.

Hunt receives word from his superiors at Impossible Missions Force that the terrorist network fronted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), who is behind bars, is poised to take delivery of stolen plutonium.

The sale is being brokered by a black market arms dealer called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) and Hunt must infiltrate the exchange to prevent the payload falling into hands of Lane's disciples, who intend to detonate portable nuclear devices in Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca.

Fellow IMF operatives Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) join the mission, overseen by boss Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).

However, the team's movements are closely monitored by hulking CIA operative August Walker (Henry Cavill). He has been instructed by his boss, Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), to terminate Hunt if the plan goes sour.

A deadly game of cat and mouse is complicated when undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) resurfaces with her own agenda.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is turbo-charged by Cruise's boundless energy and a script peppered with double-crosses and shadowy ulterior motives.

"The IMF is Halloween – a team of grown men in rubber masks playing trick or treat," snarls Bassett's CIA director.

McQuarrie's film has plenty of narrative tricks up its sleeve and treats us to brilliantly choreographed action sequences that quicken the pulse.

Summer has arrived with a crash, boom, bang.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (12A, 147 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett. Director: Christopher McQuarrie

RATING: 8.5/10

Released: July 25 (UK & Ireland)

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