Whatever Scientology-grade embalming fluid theyre submerging Tom Cruise in every evening, its doing the trick. In the sixth and best entry in the Mission Impossible franchise, Hollywoods most successful stuntman once again defies his advancing years, charging headlong into some of the series most beautifully constructed and brilliant set pieces yet.
Cruise hurls himself out of aeroplanes with all the vigour of a man who mistakenly believes his bones are made of titanium alloy. He rides a motorcycle the wrong way around the infamously bonkers traffic of the Arc de Triomphe. He dangles from helicopters and leaps between London office buildings. In one shot, which made its way into the final edit, Cruise breaks an ankle on landing, before rising to his feet and tottering off as though absolutely nothing is wrong. Somewhere on set, an insurance broker is having a nervous breakdown.
Returning writer-director Christopher McQuarrie is largely responsible for the recent return to form of this exuberant, and just-self-aware-enough, action blockbuster franchise. 2015s Rogue Nation was marked by the series most ambitious stunts to date – most notably strapping Cruise to the outside of an Airbus A400M as it took off – and Fallout continues in this adrenaline-pumped vein, powered by an endearingly odd leading man who refuses to slow down, and helped along by a European-tour of a plot thats conspiratorial, twisting and characterful enough, but never once intrudes upon the action.
The story grout holding all the stunts together has Ethan Hunt assuming the guise of an international superstar terrorist in order to retrieve a cache of swindled plutonium. The kicker? The only payment the terrorists will accept is the release of the bad guy from the last movie, leading to some serviceable themes of moral bartering and the value of one life versus millions more.
The supporting cast are deployed well. Henry Cavill plays a suspicious CIA babysitter, an Action Man-shaped rival drafted in to keep an eye on Hunt. The two clashing leads are a highly effective on-screen pairing. Simon Pegg returns as the comic gadget guy, thankfully watered down from his over-egged Rogue Nation incarnation.
But as ever the Cruise-fuelled action sequences are the real star. Setting aside one too many car chases in Paris, this is a near perfect Mission Impossible film, which escalates into a final half hour that is surely the most thrilling cinematic experience in recent memory.
Stupid, bonkers, ridiculous fun. May the man never age another day.