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Film Reviews: Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Apostasy, Hotel Transylvania 3

THE BIG RELEASE

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

12A ★★★★✩

SIX Missions in and secret agent Ethan Hunt is now so far beyond superheroic that Superman himself, in the form of Henry Cavill’s CIA spook, is reduced to playing his sidekick. Yet such is the peril that Tom Cruise, one of the last ‘big’ movie stars, publicly endures for his franchise that Hunt’s indestructible antics still have us clinging to our IMAX recliner seats.

Cruise broke his ankle attempting to leap two London rooftops in a scene for Fallout. At least it paid off — and not just in terms of publicity. Jam-packed with insane, non-computer generated stunts, Fallout is not only the best Mission yet, it is the blockbuster of the summer.

The story of this instalment picks up the threads of predecessor Rogue Nation, then weaves a plot so fiendishly full of double-crossing it would take an abbey-full of extremely patient nuns to unpick it. The basic gist is that The Apostles, a cell of religious extremist terrorist mercenaries, are trying to blow stuff up, while Hunt and his IMF chums (still including Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) are trying to stop them.

Meanwhile, everyone, including Angela Basset’s CIA boss, Alec Baldwin’s IMF boss and Vanessa Kirby’s dangerously minxy fixer, trot glamorously round the globe, trying to get their mitts on a briefcase of plutonium. A breathtaking string of action set pieces includes a daring punch-up in a men’s loo and an extended motorcycle chase through Paris featuring a non-helmeted Cruise.

And the Top Gun star may be 56 but thanks to something none of us mere mortals possess, he can still work that boyish maverick schtick opposite Baldwin’s stuffed-shirt boss with conviction. A similar suspension of disbelief is required of a screenplay that culminates in (what else?) a ticking nuclear-bomb countdown and an outrageous cliffhanger that daringly stretches credulity past any limit then pings it back so magnificently it draws spontaneous applause from delighted audiences.

Topping this will be the toughest Mission: Impossible ever.

The verdict

Impossibly thrilling Mission: Impossible instalment. The best yet.

Apostasy

PG ★★★★✩

THIS sensitive Jehovah’s Witness drama quietly steals the march on Emma Thompson’s The Children Act, which is out next month and similarly preoccupied by the thorny issue of blood transfusion — the life-saving practice outlawed by the evangelical Christian group.

Set in Oldham, it’s the devastating story of Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran), a dedicated believer, and her two now-teenaged daughters (Sacha Parkinson and Molly Wright), who she’s raised in the faith. When the older girl goes off to college she starts to question her mother’s certainties and faces ‘disfellowship’ by the group’s all-male Elders.

As well as deeply committed performances, Apostasy benefits from being told by a genuine ex-Jehovah’s Witness. Debut writer/director Daniel Kokotajlo authentically embeds you within a claustrophobic world of absolute belief.

However it’s his bold approach to narrative that marks him as a British talent to watch. A fascinating insight into the smiley Watch Tower distributors who knock on your door.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Monster Vacation

U ★★★✩✩

HOW do they get away with it? This critic-proof animated franchise about a mythical hotel for monsters run by Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) basically gussies up some of the oldest jokes in the book in colourful loony-toony dressing for a new generation.

And, judging by the family screening I went to, they love it. As did most of their parents. Continuing the fine old Chevy Chase tradition of US family comedies, this threequel sends Drac and his crew off on holiday. Here he falls for their cruise ship’s comely human captain (Kathryn Hahn), little guessing (though we know, because it’s in the trailer) that she is a descendant of Van Helsing, the legendary vampire hunter.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky’s artistry is best when at its goofiest — you wish he’d go full steam ahead on the silliness. The story is barely there, the characterisation one-dimensional but there are just enough zany visuals (eg fish with feet) to tickle the funny bone. Inevitably, though, the fart gags get the biggest laughs.

Also out: More new releases

Iceman

Inspired by the discovery of 5,300-year-old Ötzi The Iceman, the oldest known human mummy, this Neolithic-era revenge thriller (above) is told in an extinct language without subtitles. And you thought The Revenant was hardcore. (15)

Maurice

Millennials who loved Call Me By Your Name should check out this 4K restoration of Oscar-winning writer James Ivory’s 1987 landmark gay romance. A moving adaptation of EM Forster’s autobiographical novel, it features Hugh Grant and his extravagantly floppy fringe making their second film appearance. James Wilby and Rupert Graves co-star. (15)

The Giant Pear

Danish animation featuring, you guessed it, a rather large piece of fruit. (PG)