If you saw that painful YouTube footage of Tom Cruise breaking his ankle on the set of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, you may have wondered if this will be his last outing as Ethan Hunt. Could this 56-year-old super-spy, who seldom troubles the stuntmen, be finally feeling his age? It doesn’t take long for the sixth film in the series to provide an answer.
In the first big action sequence, Cruise leaps out of a C-17 transport plane at 25,000ft, skydives through a lightning storm and lands on the glass roof of a Paris club. Sequences as complex as this are never completed in one take.
And according to director Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise made the jump 106 times. Minutes later, we see him engaged in a bruising three-way fist fight in the toilets with Superman star Henry Cavill and martial arts master Liang Yang.
McQuarrie uses long takes and shoots without music to let us see and feel every blow. The breathtaking action scenes begin to pile up.
In Paris, Cruise hops on a motorbike to take part in one of the most stunning and reckless chases since The French Connection. He isn’t wearing a helmet.
In London we see him jump off the roof of St Paul’s Cathedral and make a series of death-defying (and in reality, ankle-breaking) rooftop leaps to reach the Tate Modern gallery. By the final reel he is hanging on to
the landing rail of a helicopter weaving among the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. After climbing into the cockpit we see Cruise, who as far as I’m aware isn’t an experienced pilot, take the controls for another chase scene.
There are no signs of CGI and you can’t imagine where they could have placed a safety net.
For some Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, will be this summer’s feel good movie, but campy song and dance routines aren’t the only form of escapism. For me, a thrill seeking matinee idol dangling off one of the world’s highest mountains knocks the Cher/Andy Garcia duet into a cocked hat.
It’s not just the action scenes that make this the blockbuster of the year. You don’t need to have seen the previous instalment Rogue Nation to enjoy it, but fans should love how McQuarrie’s clever script forges little links with earlier instalments.
The face-switching masks return and are entrusted to Hunt’s comedy sidekick Benji (Simon Pegg).
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hawke in the new film Mission Impossible Fallout
While Michelle Monaghan’s Julia, who Hunt married in Mission: Impossible III, is also brought back into play.
That film began with Philip Seymour Hoffman putting a gun to Julia’s head and asking Ethan to choose between her and the rest of the human race. Here, a similar moral dilemma instigates the plot.
Ethan must decide whether to save Luther (Ving Rhames) or prevent three spheres filled with nuclear material getting into the hands of The Apostles, the terrorist group headed up by the previous film’s arch-criminal Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).
Ethan plumps for his old mucker, leaving the world facing annihilation (again). To get the nukes back he must work with Cavill’s hulking CIA agent August Walker, team up with a femme fatale called the White Widow (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby) and track down shadowy figure John Lark.
The mission, which he chooses to accept, also piques the interest of MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who has unfinished business with Ethan from the previous film.
And these are just the strands I could follow. McQuarrie’s plot could be even more convoluted than the one Brian De Palma baffled us with in the 1996 original, a film that was deservedly branded Mission: Impenetrable by critics. My advice is to simply let the fog roll over you.
In the end, it will all boil down to a ticking clock, a pair of wire-cutters and one of the most outrageous finales in action movie history.
Six films and 22 years in, and this franchise is just getting into its stride.
Apostasy isn’t anyone’s idea of a feel-good movie. Writer-director Daniel Kokotajlo’s debut film is a gritty tragedy about three women whose lives are ruined by a religious cult.
Yet somehow I left the film feeling elated. I’ve suffered some long nights of the soul over the past few years, but my faith in British film had just been restored.
The cult in question, and I don’t use this c-word lightly, is one that will be familiar to anyone with a doorbell.
Kokotajlo is a former Jehovah’s Witness and his astonishingly authentic debut takes us inside Oldham’s Kingdom Hall. He shows us a closed community with a radical, apocalyptic agenda that sets out to divide families and places dogma far ahead of human life.
But he clearly cares for the church’s members. It’s a hard-hitting film but also a sympathetic one.
Siobhan Finneran plays Ivanna, a devout Witness from Oldham with two teenage daughters – Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright). Both will test her faith.
Siobhán Finneran, Sacha Parkinson and Molly Wright star in the emotional film Apostasy
Alex, 18, has a blood condition but in compliance with the rulings of the “elders” is risking her life by refusing transfusions. Luisa falls pregnant, is “disfellowshipped” and must fend for herself. The performances are all excellent, the plot is full of surprises and the characters aAre complicated and believable.
At three movies in, it feels like Hotel Translyvania is overdue a refurbishment.
Taking a leaf out of the book of the British sitcom spin- off, the Gothic guests and their proprietor Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) all head off on holiday in Summer Vacation. S
oon after joining a wacky cruise to the lost city of Atlantis, Dracula quickly falls for the ship’s captain (Kathryn Hahn) unaware she is the revenge-seeking grand-daughter of his arch-nemesis Abraham Van Helsing.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky uses the plot as a platform to deliver non-stop puns, visual gags, slapstick, musical numbers and fart jokes.
Little ones should enjoy the comedy and colourful animation.
Grown-ups may find themselves sympathising a little too readily with Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon’s exhausted werewolf parents.