Review: This Mission Impossible could be the best yet
Mission Impossible — Fallout
In 1996, when a fresh-faced, 30-something Tom Cruise accepted his mission to revamp the classic 1960s TV series, it's unlikely he envisioned that he would still be breaking sweat as gung-ho Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt more than two decades later.
But life is full of surprises and few are as sweet as Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
The sixth and arguably best instalment of the globe-trotting franchise welcomes back writer-director Christopher McQuarrie for a suspenseful thriller that unravels narrative threads from 2015's Rogue Nation.
While other blockbusters rely heavily on digital trickery, Fallout places its most expensive special effect, its leading man, in almost every adrenaline-pumping shot.
Cruise performs death-defying stunts including riding a motorcycle without a helmet at high speed against the flow of traffic around the Arc de Triomphe, piloting a helicopter during a stomach-churning 360 degree downward spiral, and freefall jumping at 25,000 feet from an aircraft travelling at 165mph.
McQuarrie keeps the camera as close as possible to Cruise so we can appreciate every split-second decision between life and horrific injury, including a leap between buildings during a chase high above the streets of London, which resulted in the star breaking his ankle.
IMF's communications might self-destruct after five seconds, but Cruise gallantly endures. Hunt receives word that the terrorist network fronted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), is poised to take delivery of stolen plutonium.
The sale is being brokered by a black market arms dealer called the White Widow, and Hunt must prevent the payload falling into hands of Lane's disciples, who intend to detonate portable nuclear devices in Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca.
Fellow operatives Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) join the mission, overseen by Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).
However, CIA operative August Walker (Henry Cavill)has been instructed to terminate Hunt if the plan goes sour. A deadly game of cat and mouse is complicated when undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) resurfaces with her own agenda.
McQuarrie's film has plenty of narrative tricks and treats us to brilliantly choreographed action sequences that quicken the pulse.
Summer has arrived with a crash, boom, bang.
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation - Monster movie running out of laughs
Towards the gently effervescent conclusion of director Genndy Tartakovsky's computer-animated sequel, a DJ attempts to break the evil spell that has enslaved a kraken by blasting out Bobby McFerrin's upbeat anthem Don't Worry, Be Happy.
The infectious hit should play throughout A Monster Vacation, which doesn't worry about character development or a coherent plot and is happy to set sail for predictable laughs in foreign climes.
Humour in the second film was decidedly long in the vampire's tooth. The same is true of this third chapter, co-written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers, which introduces Dracula (Adam Sandler) to the perilous world of right-and-left-swiping potential love matches.
"You can't be too picky. You haven't had a date in 100 years!" Invisible Man (David Spade) reminds the fanged fiend.
Dracula's daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) organises a surprise holiday for her nearest and dearest including her husband Jonathan, six-year-old son Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) and grandfather Vlad (Mel Brooks).
She surprises Dracula with a voyage to the lost city of Atlantis aboard the luxury cruise liner Legacy.
Meanwhile, Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his wife Wanda drop off their pack of cubs at the on-board creche and relax in the company of Invisible Man (Spade), Frankenstein and Murray the Mummy. En route, skeletons tumble out of one family's musty closet and Dracula affirms the importance of family unity in times of crisis.
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation is blessed with bright, colourful visuals and lightweight humour that should appeal to younger audiences including a turbulent flight aboard ramshackle Gremlin Air.
The soundtrack grooves to Bruno Mars, The Beach Boys and Jonas Blue, casting a warm summery glow over the confrontations and tearful reconciliations.
Personally, I'd politely hammer a stake through the franchise's heart before our affection for these characters festers into disdain.