Mission: Impossible — Fallout ★★★★✩
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ★★★✩✩
Apostasy ★★★★✩ The Apostles, an anarchist group bent on destroying modern civilisation, are the targets for the IMF team in Mission: Impossible — Fallout (12A), the sixth in the franchise and the most wildly improbable and hugely entertaining of the series to date. When Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) screw up a simple cash-for-plutonium exchange, they take off on a race against time to prevent the Apostles from devastating Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca with nuclear weapons. CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) tags along to ensure Ethan doesn’t mess up twice, but can August, and the CIA, be fully trusted? Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote and directed Mission: Impossible
— Rogue Nation (2015), is back at the helm again, and establishes a ferocious pace from the off, packing in a tense Mexican stand-off and the cataclysmic destruction of major cities into the first 15 minutes or so, before pulling off an audacious sequence in which Ethan HALO-jumps out of a military airplane into a lightning storm (there’s also a high-speed motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, the obligatory Cruise fulltilt sprint, this time through London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, and a mind-boggling sequence featuring a helicopter dog-fight). Despite all the thrills and a welter of spies, assassins and double-agents, it’s rather long at almost 2½ hours, and matters aren’t helped by Henry Cavill’s pitch-perfect impersonation of a sequoia. For the most part, though, Fallout is terrific fun, with Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer all popping up in cameos, although Rebecca Ferguson again steals virtually every scene she’s in as the rogue MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. Bleh-blehbleh-bleh. Adam Sandler returns as the endearing Dracula in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (G), the latest offering from Sony Animation which opens with an amusing sequence detailing the numerous attempts the hapless Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) has made to kill Dracula over the centuries. When Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides that her father is in need of a holiday to get away from the pressure of running the Hotel Transylvania, all the monsters — including Frankenstein’s Monster (Kevin James), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) — take off on a cruise (through the Bermuda
Triangle, naturally). Co-written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who has helmed all the Hotel Transylvania movies, Summer Vacation suffers from the law of diminishing returns. Many of the jokes are minor reworkings of previous gags. That said, it’s all very fast-paced and vividly rendered, and chock-a-block with the kind of pratfalls and sight gags that tend to appeal to the very young viewer, and my 10-yearold companions were far more entertained than was their cynical old chaperone. Set in Northern England, Apostasy (12A) centres on 17-year-old Alex (Molly Wright), a devout Jehovah’s Witness who is obliged to shun her older sister Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) when Luisa abandons the faith after falling pregnant to ‘a worldly boy’. When her mother, Evanna (Siobhan Finneran), colludes with the Elders to exclude Luisa from their lives, Alex begins to question God’s love — an issue as physical as it is spiritual, as Alex is anaemic, and is forbidden from receiving blood transfusions should she require them. Written and directed by Daniel Kokotajlo, Apostasy is a gripping exploration of unquestioning faith, and a heart-breaking account of the clash between infallible creed and the human instinct to love and nurture. The subtext, of course, is that of malign patriarchal influence, even if Steven (Robert Emms), the young Elder who befriends the family, is both kindly and well-meaning — ultimately, three generations of women discover themselves at the mercy of a belief system that eschews nuance and rides roughshod over the women’s finer feelings. Molly Wright and Sacha Parkinson are terrific in the central roles, with Parkinson in particular in sparkling form as Luisa attempts to bridge the gap between the esoteric theory of religious dogmatism and the necessity of living in the real world, but Siobhan Finneran, despite her deliberately understated turn, is simply stunning as a mother who is utterly conflicted as to whether her daughters are better served by maternal love in the hereand-now or by the promise of eternal love in the hereafter. The low-key performances, natural lighting and the absence of any musical score all contribute handsomely to a film which mirrors the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ lack of affectation while simultaneously asking hard questions about the morality of blind faith to any creed or religion.