Your mission, should you choose to accept it...is to toddle along to your local cinema, load up on popcorn and fizzy drink, and immerse yourself in the ongoing impossible exploits of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his band of merry men - and women!
Yes. It's summer. Endless hours of boredom for disaffected teens. So it likely makes sense to send those that like action films along to Mission Impossible 6: Fallout. Here, the "fall-out" is both literal, in the sense that the mcguffin, the raison d'être of this mission is a quantity of plutonium, handily carted around in a briefcase containing three chunky oversized petanque balls of the stuff. And metaphorical: this episode of the Impossible saga brings back villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) last seen being taken into custody at the end of Mission 5, as well as femme fatale Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) who clearly took Ethan's fancy at the end of ditto.
Except Hunt still carries a torch for ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) missing, presumed dead in Croatia about two films back. But as a pretty pointed flashback at the start of this episode makes clear, her death was faked for her own protection. Julia still lives and will, in the fullness of time, play a part in the action.
OK. Confession here: the pedant in me just HAD to go off and work out how much this teensy briefcase full of plutonium weighed... Yanno, the one various characters just wander around the set carrying or, on one occasion, toss into the air because otherwise someone is going to shoot them. And the answer? Somewhere in the region of 600 pounds, or 270 kilos!
I mean, honestly. Surviving a helicopter crash, two bullets at short range to the chest, and being run over. That's one thing. As are impossible advanced 3d printers capable of generating exact replica latex face masks of villains in minutes flat. Like, totally believable!
But the weight of plutonium is a fact and one that movie-makers ignore at their peril!
That and the fact that Ethan Hunt, faced with saving one of his team or completing a mission that will protect millions of lives opts for the former. 'Cause ruthless killers are like that. Sentimental.
The plot circles round the plutonium which Ethan and his team – Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) – don't quite recapture in the opening frames. Just as well, really, as otherwise it would have been an exceedingly short film. Turns out that the remnants of the Syndicate, taken down last time round have resurrected as terrorists for hire, the Apostles, and are after the metal in order to wreak global nuclear havoc .
There is the usual sub-plot. The CIA, in the shape of hard woman Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) trust Ethan. But only so far. Which is why he is awarded a shadow in the form of professional killer August Walker (Henry Cavill). Whose side is Henry on? Two guesses: though it's not long into the film before you find out. Besides, no-one sporting the villainous Oh-Sir-Jasper moustache that someone thought it would be a good idea to award Cavill can possibly be on the side of the angels.
The plot twists and twists within twists. It appears that Lane, despite being locked in prison, is behind it all. Or involved. Or something. So obviously, Ethan must pretend to be a villain he has never met in order to rescue Lane. Meanwhile Ilsa is trying to kill Ethan. Or Lane. Or both. And Ethan is trying to kill Ilsa. Which is sure fire proof that romance is in the air.
An honourable mention to Vanessa Kirby, who turns in a fine and sultry performance as arms dealer and double or maybe triple agent the White Widow. After a while it gets hard to tell. Which is either the joy, or the annoyance of these films. No-one is ever who or what they seem. If you are introduced to any one character as good, chances are they will rapidly turn out to be bad, before the final revelation that they were good all along pretending to be bad pretending to be good. Whatever: do not go to watch this film with any relative, elderly or youthful, who makes a habit of nudging you in the ribs and asking you to explain some subtle plot point. For you will leave with very sore ribs.
It's all nonsense. With bells on. And some very expensive and daring special effects. It may also be the last in the franchise. Critics are already discussing whether there will be a Mission Impossible 7. Maybe. Except youthful hero Tom Cruise is now 56 and despite best efforts is starting to look ever-so-slightly worn.
Not only: but Tom insists on doing his own stunts, to the horror of agent and insurers alike. Is he really, as the great 6-zero rises on the horizon, still going to be jumping out of planes and falling off high buildings? I mean, I have just a few years on the man – and have enough difficulty already getting on planes and walking up flights of stairs!
It's nonsense. And if you like this sort of thing, it's fun.
Three and a half stars.