Anyone who thought that at 56, Tom Cruise should consider hanging up his straps, needs to see Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
Say what you want about sofas and Scientology, there is simply no denying that Cruise knows what his fans want and his mission every single time is to deliver that to them. With Fallout, he does exactly that.
- Newshub attends the MI: Fallout premiere in Paris
- New Zealand shines in incredible MI: Fallout footage
Ethan Hunt and his mysterious IMF crew have been entertaining us for two decades. The last film Rogue Nation is one of Cruise's biggest career hits taking over a NZ$1 billion at the global box office. While I preferred the pace, the story and the nuances of that film, what Fallout does is up the action ante to an unprecedentedly epic level.
The last half of this film could be one of the most breathtakingly exhilarating, continuously flowing action set-pieces I've ever seen on the big screen.
Here is a simple universal truth: there's no substitute for the real thing. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan showed us that in his Dark Knight trilogy, Cruise and his director Chris McQuarrie show us with their Mission: Impossibles.
Cruise is Halo jumping from a plane over Paris, he's the sole pilot of that helicopter as he plunges into a craggy canyon in the Southern Alps, he's tearing around the Arc de Triomphe on a motorbike sans helmet and he's running, running, running and jumping from rooftops before actually shattering his leg, like, for real.
We know it, he knows it, and by the end of Fallout, we love him for risking life and limb, just for us.
Ably assisting him in the action stakes is newbie Henry Cavill, who gets to deliver and receive some intensely brutal beat-downs for our viewing pleasure. The much-lauded bathroom brawl is worth the ticket-price alone.
There's also Luther and Benji doing everything they can to keep Hunt alive while all those about him are trying to do the opposite, and happily Rebecca Fergusen reprises her role as MI6 agent Ilsa Faust and while I needed more of her (she was the highlight of Rogue Nation for me) she was still a welcome sight at every turn.
The story itself isn't entirely a bolter for me. There is a sidebar story which could very easily have been left on the cutting room floor and the formulaic familiarity of the narrative, while I know is part and parcel of this franchise, kind of took the edge off a little for me.
But along with the extraordinary big screen action draw card of this, Fallout feels like a coming of age for Tom Cruise and Ethan Hunt, as both men fictionally and factually embrace the good and the bad of their advancing years, acknowledging their strengths, their weaknesses and their limits for what they are.
And as far as big budget blockbuster entertainment goes, we are indeed entertained.
* Mission: Impossible - Fallout opens in New Zealand on July 30, 2018.