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Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the sixth in the series, which itself is based on the classic - but low budget, shot-mostly-on-the-Paramount-backlot - television series from the late sixties and early seventies. When the first movie came out, back in 1996, I had a largely negative reaction - I thought the filmmakers, including director Brian De Palma, were intellectually dishonest by turning the hero character from the series, Jim Phelps (played on TV by Peter Graves, and in the movie by Jon Voight), into the bad guy. It was a cheap trick that didn’t respect the material, and as a fan of the series, I was offended.

I didn’t much like the next two follow-ups, either - the second one, directed by John Woo, was way over-directed, and the third, by JJ Abrams, just never seemed to gel in my mind.

But then, something remarkable happened. Against all odds, the series got better. A lot better. Brad Bird (The Incredibles) directed Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol with a verve and even a sense of humor that took advantage of star Tom Cruise’s sense of humor and willingness to try pretty much any stunt and let the audience see him sweat. It was terrific. Then, Christopher McQuarrie directed Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and topped him … the movie was clever, sly, well-acted and just a ton of fun, with Cruise actually getting better while being surrounded by some terrific actors, such as Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson, with a great villain in Sean Harris.

And now, go figure, almost the entire troupe is back again (Renner is out, Henry Cavill is in) for Mission: Impossible - Fallout, with McQuarrie directing and working with Cruise to do an amazing series of set pieces that defy the odds - and sometimes, gravity - as Cruise jumps out of planes, races motorcycles, and performs all sorts of outrageous stunts all as his character Ethan Hunt, tries to track down stolen plutonium.

The story is strong, and actually has some subtle nods to earlier films, with a real emotional core. It actually helps that Cruise is now in his mid-fifties, and you can see some of the mileage and feel some of the aches and pains. The fact that most of the cast has been working together for some time creates a what appears to be real affection and a narrative shorthand. Everybody is loose and comfortable and it gives a movie a great vibe.

Fallout is almost as good as Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation. I guess my only reservation is that they push the notion of a cliffhanger maybe just a little bit too far. But, I was totally involved in the story, and on the edge of my seat for pretty much the whole movie.

All is forgiven about Jim Phelps. (Not forgotten. Just forgiven.) I’m happy to heartily recommend Mission: Impossible - Fallout, which is the very definition of a fun summer movie.

It’s been pretty hot in Portland, and so I’ve enjoyed the locally produced Sesión Mexican Style Lager - a cerveza from Full Sail Brewing that has been pretty much perfect for the weather. I recommend it.

That’s it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

KC's View: