Mission Accomplished

Rating: 4

Mission Impossible: Fallout

By Ben Felsenburg 

Most men dealing with the male midlife crisis might buy a racy new car or start sporting figure-hugging lycra fashion monstrosities. But 56-year-old Tom Cruise isn’t most men: instead, he’s embarked on his own custom-made programme to help him come to terms with aging masculinity.

Costing a mere £150m, this therapy course is also known as Mission Impossible: Fallout and happens to be the sixth instalment in the series. It’s a bombastic blockbuster of an action-thriller in which the stakes are positively apocalyptic. A century ago the life of the girl tied to the train tracks was enough to keep cinema-goers on the edge of their seats. Now, as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the rest of his Impossible Mission Force (or IMF, but certainly not to be confused with the International Monetary Fund and Christine Lagarde) desperately try to track down missing nuclear bombs, the very fate of the world is at stake – although, ho-hum, isn’t that a plot device we’ve seen countless times before? But not to worry, for the story is largely a peg for half a dozen stunt action sequences so astonishing your dropping jaw will wear out a hole in the cinema carpet.

There’s Tom Cruise plummeting out of a plane in a nerve-shredding freefall jump; Tom Cruise on a motorbike careering around the streets of Paris in a high-speed chase filmed with inventive aplomb; Tom Cruise shimmying up a rope hanging from below a helicopter as it climbs high into the sky; Tom Cruise… Well, you get the idea.

The star’s preternaturally youthful features loom large in long, continuous scenes filmed with hardly any cuts, so that you know it’s Cruise and not a stuntman carrying out these seemingly death-defying feats, and there are few if any moments in which you can spot the tell-tale signs of computerised special effects. They’ve even kept in footage of Cruise running off a London rooftop and breaking his ankle in real life, after which filming had to be shut down for months while he recovered. Real men don’t do outtakes.

A double dose of glamour makes it worth staying awake in between the action. the strikingly beautiful Anglo-Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson returns as M16 agent Ilsa Faust, who is the simmering love interest but also in a professional secret agent capacity every bit as formidable an operator as Hunt, and repeatedly proves that when it comes to the crunch the female is at least as deadly as the male. Meanwhile, Vanessa Kirby leaves her portrayal of Princess Margaret in the Crown far behind as the White Widow, who will happily sell weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder. Being wicked is a whole barrel of fun, thanks to Kirby’s delighted relish for a liberatingly amoral part. On the downside, Henry Cavill – the British actor best known as Superman – is as wooden as a lumbering oak tree, playing a CIA agent foisted onto the IMF team, but at least he comes with a wondrously lustrous moustache that should get star billing all its own.

Look no further if you’re searching for stylishly filmed and entirely escapist entertainment to suit all generations. Just don’t expect tom to be swapping the adrenaline for Ovaltine quite yet.