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‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ is all about stuntman Cruise

The Mission: Impossible franchise long ago stole the best stunts mantle from the likes of James Bond and Jason Bourne. In the sixth edition, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” it’s once again the stunts that are getting all the attention. Oh, along with Tom Cruise, of course.

In fact, the stunts and Cruise are so intertwined they’re practically synonomous. Not only is Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt involved in every important action set piece, Cruise the actor is doing most of those stunts himself.

If the press notes are to be believed, the 56-year-old Cruise is the first actor to ever undertake a HALO jump on camera. HALO stands for High Altitude, Low Opening, meaning a jump out of a C-17 at 25,000 feet, falling at a rate of 200 miles per hour, and not opening the parachute until within 2,000 feet of the ground. Cruise took over 100 jumps to get this sequence right for the movie. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the jump here.

Cruise also learned how to fly a helicopter for the movie’s most hair-raising stunt, a chopper chase in which a solo-piloting Cruise nosedives repeatedly and lives to tell the tale.

Other outstanding stunts include a high-speed motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, sans helmet of course, and a rooftop race in London involving jumping from building to building to building. (It was one of those jumps that broke Cruise’s ankle and shut down filming for a couple months.)

These stunts are indeed spectacular, but I’m not convinced they’re better because Cruise took so many risks. It does add to the lore and the lure of the film, I suppose, but it doesn’t make it a better movie. Or necessarily, a better stunt. Still, the stunts are the reason to see this film, especially in a theater.

I’m spending so much time on the stunts because that’s what distinguishes the Mission Impossible films from all the other action flicks. Otherwise, “Fallout” is just another doomsday plot about a crazy bad guy with nuclear weapons who needs to be stopped.

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it. I wonder, did you ever choose not to?

“The end you always feared is coming, and the blood will be on your hands. The fallout of all your good intentions.”

The film does benefit from the return of so many cast members from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” Not only is the MI crew of Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames back, but also their boss, Alec Baldwin, Cruise’s love interest Rebecca Ferguson, and that same crazy bad guy quote above, Sean Harris. Newcomers Henry Cavill as a CIA assassin, Angela Bassett as Cavill’s boss, and Vanessa Kirby as a deadly weapons dealer round out a uniformly excellent cast.

But nobody cares how good the supporting cast is. It’s all about Tom Cruise the stuntman, and deservedly so.

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