“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE” DELIVERS BIG TIME; “BRIT BOX” ON TV
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (Rated PG-13) Over the past two decades, the now middle-aged Tom Cruise has performed in the most mind-blowing stunts in the “Mission: Impossible” films, and the sixth installment of the franchise in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” proves he’s only getting better. By now, the storyline is familiar for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, team leader of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) with his cohorts Benji (Simon Pegg), the source of comic relief, and the sturdy Luther (Ving Rhames), as they take on the most difficult and sensitive assignments. Though a standalone film, “Fallout” picks up with the villain, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), not only seeking revenge for what Ethan did to him in “Rogue Nation” but still working in cahoots with a terrorist group.
“Fallout” is all about a convoluted espionage mission that is full of misdirection, double-crosses, and shocking revelations. Nevertheless, it is easier to follow in the movie rather than writing about it at the risk of giving away too many surprises. Going back to the series’ television roots, “Fallout,” though it relies heavily on Ethan’s uncommon feats, finds the IMF as a true team with Benji and Luther in pivotal roles, while former CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) helps push back on bureaucratic intransigence.
The central mission is to retrieve three metal spheres of plutonium that mad scientist Nils Debruuk (Kristoffer Joner) wants put to use to wipe out three holy sites, including the Vatican, as the start to a new world order. A clever set-piece involves the IMF team staging a clever impersonation of a recognizable personality to obtain vital information. This puts them on the trail of going after Solomon Lane during a daring heist of a police transport on the streets of Paris. Life is made more difficult for Ethan and his team when new CIA director Erika Sloane (Angela Bassett) proves hostile to the IMF’s tactics and assigns ruthless CIA agent Walker (Henry Cavill) to join the mission to locate the terror group known as the Apostles.
Rebecca Ferguson’s MI6 agent Ilsa Faust is back with her own agenda, and Ethan’s former wife shows up in the Himalayan mountains on a medical mission in the crosshairs of a terror plot. A much physical action is demanded of Ethan, and it is all very exciting and suspenseful. He sprints across rooftops in London, races a motorcycle against traffic in Paris, dangles by a rope from a helicopter and then pilots the craft through dangerous ravines in Kashmir.
“Fallout” is plausibly the most exciting of all “Mission: Impossible” films, and the best action picture of summer.
BRIT BOX: NEW STREAMING BRITISH TV OUTLET
To state the obvious, television viewing is now far removed from the old days of three major networks before the proliferation of cable channels and now streaming services. Netflix and Hulu have their turf in streaming programs, and now the relative newcomer BritBox, a streaming service formed by the British channels BBC and ITV, has enough of a presence to warrant inclusion into the Television Critics Association press tours.
BritBox is for the devoted Anglophiles who just can’t get enough of British TV in classic programming such as “Doctor Who” and “Fawlty Towers,” along with Agatha Christie variations. During the summer press tour, Soumya Sriraman, president of BritBox, announced that its service has “found its center of gravity” by being “uniquely poised to blend the immediacy of broadcast with the swagger of a digital streamer, a broad streamer if you will.”
That swagger served to bring John Cleese to his first BBC sitcom since “Fawlty Towers” in a role tailor-made for his natural inclination to delivering amusing and sarcastic comments.“Hold the Sunset” showcases Cleese’s comedic talent in the role of Phil, a tender soul in love with his old flame, Edith (Alison Steadman), who happens to live across the road from him. While she’s been a widow for a few years, her children live locally and drop by regularly. She enjoys daily visits from Phil, who persists in his desire for marriage until she one day agrees.
Meanwhile, complications arise when her 50-year-old son Roger (Jason Watkins) shows up on her doorstep with a large suitcase. He’s left his wife and kids, and a good job, in an attempt to find his lost happiness. A period piece set ten years after World War II, “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco” tells the story of two women who served as code-breakers during the war who are drawn to the Pacific Coast by a string of murders that share grisly similarities with a British cold-case.
With Jean (Julie Graham) and Millie (Rachel Stirling) grappling with post-war domesticity and unfulfilling jobs, “Bletchley Circle” thrusts them into the midst of thrilling social change and the ability to discover their own potential at solving murders and other high-stakes crimes. “BritBox” will provide access to a wide assortment of British TV as limitless as a Las Vegas buffet. As an example, you can get as much David Suchet as Hercule Poirot that anyone could want.