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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — TOM CRUISE IS REALLY GOOD AT RUNNING

The newest Mission: Impossible movie lives up to its title with action scenes that are so spectacular—and preposterous—that it’s hard to know which ones to take seriously. Two highlights are an extended, white-knuckle car chase on the streets of Paris and much later, a helicopter pursuit. Yet Mission remains a piece of sheer escapism, even turning a lethal terrorist into just another movie bad-guy. With Tom Cruise in the lead and all the moviemaking knowhow on display, how can you go wrong?

Here’s how: you can have too much of a good thing. That’s the problem with this fast-and-furious sequel written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Tom Cruise is fierce and charming as the occasion demands; he also performs death-defying stunts. And boy, can that guy run.

His regular crew is back, with Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames filling their sidekick roles quite nicely. Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin lend solid support. Baldwin, as the U.S. Secretary of State, even has a fight scene!

These characters are built on the shorthand Mission: Impossible has established in earlier installments. There are plenty of twists, but ultimately McQuarrie relies on our familiarity with the series and its central characters to tell his far-fetched story. This is what people refer to as perfect summer entertainment: big, long, splashy, and (overall) fun. Something you should see in a movie theater with the electricity of an audience.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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December 2018
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