By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Las Vegas Informer

This is how Cruise returns to Zeus-level stardom. He gives his fans no stuntmen in masks and costumes. No green screen. Its him and he’s spectacular.

Name your top car chase scene in a movie in a European city. MI: FALLOUT tops it. Name the best fight scene in a bathroom. MI: FALLOUT tops it. Two helicopters colliding? Jumping from a window to the next building? The best Asian martial arts fighter? The best co-star/assassin? Being pursued across roofs? Best parachute jump from a plane at a high altitude? Running for miles while being chased by gunfire? How about a near-drowning scene? MI: FALLOUT ranks above every action movie ever made.

Because Tom Cruise did it all himself. And he had the power to actually be on top of a profoundly majestic New Zealand mountain (filling in for Kashmir). And, intentionally missing a jump, he broke his ankle. The filming had to close for six weeks. He narrated the 3 angles of the jump on the Graham Norton Show.

“I was chasing Henry and was meant to hit the side of the wall and pull myself over but the mistake was my foot hitting the wall,” he explained. “I knew instantly my ankle was broken and I really didn’t want to do it again so just got up and carried on with the take. I said, ‘It’s broken. That’s a wrap. Take me to hospital’ and then everyone got on the phone and made their vacation arrangements.”

All I can say is, James Bond producers, with the #MeToo movement meaning James is not going to casually bed consecutive beautiful women and MI: FALLOUT setting the bar this high, what are you going to offer? You will have the money, but Daniel Craig upped his Bond quote by spitting out his rage over the last shoot:

“I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists,” he told Time Out magazine in October 2015. “No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.”

A rumored $50 million payday (plus those lucrative watch ads, etc.) for as-yet-untitled, Bond 25, seems to have changed Craig’s mind, but will the diva bother breaking a sweat? He’ll probably get a 3-day shooting week that ends each day with him back in his suite by 3p.m.

James will have to say: “Bond. James Bond” to a waiter instead of the beautiful, but disposable, cheating mistress of the villain.

With writer-director Christopher McQuarrie returning after MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, Cruise has found someone who is ready and in total agreement to push to the impossible. If you have ever been in Paris, you know how congested it is and the little streets and the curves. Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, executes a long, very long, hazardous motorcycle chase. The top speed and acceleration of a motorcycle is much higher than cars. Because no MI Team member can fly yet, Hunt finally accepts one of Newton’s Laws and surrounded by dozens of speeding cars, crashes.

MI: FALLOUT has ROGUE NATION’S villain, MI6 agent Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), still hellbent on bringing about a change in our flaccid world of sheep (or something like that) by setting off three plutonium bombs. It’s not about money, it’s about an ideology! It has a manifesto! And it’s quite Nietzschean in its simplicity:

Solomon Lane: There cannot be peace without first, a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace.

Or is it the basis of the First Nobel Truth, the basis of Buddhism as taught by the Buddha?

The First Truth is that all life is suffering, pain, and misery. The Second Truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire. The Third Truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome. The Fourth Truth is that the way to overcome this misery is through the Eightfold Path.

Also, from ROUGE NATION, Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) returns. She definitely has her eye on Hunt, while ignoring Hunt’s fabulous new tag-along.

Hunt finds the bombs but decides to save the life of MI Team member Luther (Ving Rhames) instead of getting his hands on the bombs. The bombs are captured, Lane is freed by his “apostles”, and the chase is on. The C.I.A. forces Hunt to bring along August Walker (Henry Cavill).

A flirtatious “White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby) is brokering the deal to the highest bidder. Hunt and Walker need to get to the charity gala the White Widow is having. She will meet with one of the top bidders. The way into the gala is easy. Parachute into the Grand Palais wearing tuxedos underneath their gear. Problem is, they have to jump from a dangerously high altitude wearing oxygen masks. If they do jump, they will be jumping straight into a thunderstorm.

So begins the plot. Unnecessary exposition is disregarded. If you want a simplified plot, here it is: The MI Team lost control of 3 plutonium bombs and have to get them back. They are small and come in a nice briefcase. Meanwhile, arch villain Lane has his “apostles” and the question of who really Solomon Lane is suddenly becomes an issue.

The plot might be a tad convoluted for Scholars of Logic, as well as the extreme dangers of death being near – no less touching – plutonium, but its super-encased plutonium from a deep Black Program!

All the historical MI characters still alive are brought back. With all that poor Hunt has to think about, the destruction of three populated cities of the world, he runs into his ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan). Julia has not been carrying a heavy heart for Ethan. Wasn’t she seen by Ethan happily in the company of another man in a previous MI mission? And now she’s married? Time for Ethan Hunt to stop moping around and get “back in the saddle”, so to speak.

Cavill has a stunning fight scene in the gala’s bathroom. Hunt and Walker confront a man they think is the bomb’s top bidder.

This is the sexiest scene in the movie and both stars are at their peak.

One of the best fight scenes is between Michael Fassbinder and Gina Carano in HAYWIRE.

With Cavill being younger, bigger and much more handsome than Cruise at 56, his casting shows that producer Cruise is willing to forego all the ego-driven mania of top stars and gave Cavill a strong, muscular part.

No one has told Ving Rhames that the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE franchise would go on for so long. If he knew, Rhames would have watched what he ate and took better care of himself. When he is on screen, he is so massive that there can be no co-star next to him. I can’t hear this dialogue. I’m looking at his massive features. Can Luther be a member of MI if he is unable to walk due to his weight?

As for the once comic-relief member of MI, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) has finally stepped up. He even looks a little bit sleeker and smarter. All he needs are a few carefully lit close-ups, a healthier complexion and falling for a double-agent and he’s on his way to carrying the MI Team into 2030.

The MISSION IMPOSSIBLE theme by Lalo Schifrin has been updated by Lorne Balfe and appears more than I recall from the earlier movies. It’s perfectly placed. Once again complaining over the James Bond franchise, they are intentionally stingy with their iconic theme.

Finally, all hail Tom Cruise.

Victoria Alexander

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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