For a re­view of “Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble — Fallout,

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Is it even sum­mer with­out a “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” movie? Hardly. Thankfully, an­other in­stall­ment of the Tom Cruise-star­ring ac­tion fran­chise, “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble — Fallout,” drops this week­end, as sturdy and re­li­able as ever.

Un­der the swift and ef­fi­cient su­per­vi­sion of writer/ di­rec­tor Christo­pher McQuar­rie, this is the kind of ac­tion film­mak­ing that proves to be an ef­fec­tive an­ti­dote for su­per­hero fa­tigue, with a sense of re­al­ism baked into ev­ery shot. There’s no messy dig­i­tal CGI here as our he­roes try to stop ex­plo­sions from hap­pen­ing with their fists and bod­ies. But there comes a point where we must ask: What does it all mean?

Of all the “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” in­stall­ments, “Fallout” may be the sparest and most ef­fi­cient — not count­ing the truly wild and gasp-wor­thy stunts. It’s taut and un­adorned; there’s very lit­tle flash or dis­trac­tion in the form of eye-popping cos­tumes or ex­otic lo­ca­tions or gad­getry. There is no cin­e­matic sleight of hand per­formed as a di­gres­sion. It’s pure ac­tion wrapped around a twisty tale of ter­ror­ism, covert ops and the one man who stands be­tween the world and nu­clear de­struc­tion, Ethan Hunt (Cruise).

The films have be­come less about es­pi­onage and in­trigue, and more about Cruise and his death-de­fy­ing acts of cin­e­matic phys­i­cal­ity, so McQuar­rie strips away ev­ery­thing that might stand be­tween Cruise and his stunt. He shoots in long shots with min­i­mal cuts, and he keeps Cruise in and out of close-up to prove to the au­di­ence that it’s him.

It’s an ac­tion movie that em­bod­ies the ethos of “pics or it didn’t hap­pen.” There’s no quick edit­ing, stunt dou­bles or face-swap­ping. That’s Cruise, glanc­ing over his shoul­der on a mo­tor­cy­cle be­fore he T-bones a car in Paris traf­fic. That’s Cruise, dash­ing across a rooftop and tak­ing a fly­ing leap, scrab­bling to cling to the edge of a Lon­don of­fice build­ing. And yes, that’s most def­i­nitely Cruise, wrestling him­self onto the un­der­car­riage of a he­li­copter over the snowy Kash­mir moun­tains in a se­quence that will leave au­di­ences laugh­ing, gasp­ing and cheer­ing in dis­be­lief.

The film’s theme is choice, draw­ing from the well­known in­struc­tion: “Your mis­sion, should you choose to ac­cept it…” That choice has never been drawn out be­fore, but the ques­tion is posed as Hunt and his team se­cure Solomon Lane (Sean Har­ris), a for­mer Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence agent-turned-terrorist. Has Ethan ever not cho­sen a mis­sion? For whom is he choos­ing to act? But the ques­tion is al­ways “how?” rather than “why?”

“Fallout” quickly drops the ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis for the fun and thrills of ac­tion, twists and iden­tity swaps, for the added ex­cite­ment of lethal CIA agent Henry Cav­ill and his bi­ceps and mus­tache. But for a film os­ten­si­bly about po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence, it’s strangely apo­lit­i­cal, and it doesn’t have much to say on that topic at all. Ethan is mo­ti­vated to ex­treme acts of adren­a­line-pump­ing bod­ily peril sim­ply be­cause he loves his loved ones and wants to save them. But frankly, the lack of any sort of so­cial or cul­tural rel­e­vancy is ob­vi­ous. At a cer­tain point you yearn for the film to say some­thing — any­thing.

Nev­er­the­less, here’s hop­ing they never stop mak­ing “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” movies. For as long as Cruise can defy death, age and the nor­mal laws of physics, they should keep mak­ing them. For as long as McQuar­rie or Brad Bird is avail­able to di­rect his in­sane stunts, they should keep mak­ing them. Tom Cruise is a heck of a movie star who never stops push­ing his own lim­its, and that is al­ways worth the watch.

“Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble — Fallout,” a Para­mount Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG-13 for vi­o­lence and in­tense se­quences of ac­tion, and for brief strong lan­guage. Run­ning time: 147 min­utes.


“Teen Ti­tans Go! To The Movies”

Com­pared to their dark and dour live-ac­tion brethren, the Warner Brothers/ DC Comics an­i­mated fea­tures are a breath of fresh air. Much like “The LEGO Bat­man Movie” (which one could ar­gue is the best Bat­man movie — full stop), the wild, wacky and self-aware “Teen Ti­tans Go! To the Movies” bursts onto the screen like an at­ten­tion-ad­dled su­gar rush. It ab­so­lutely nails the hu­mor and self-ref­er­en­tial ma­te­rial that is so sorely lack­ing from the likes of “Bat­man Vs. Su­per­man.” So yeah, it is pos­si­ble to make a funny DC Comics movie.

Based on the wildly pop­u­lar and long-run­ning Car­toon Net­work se­ries “Teen Ti­tans Go!,” the fea­ture film adap­ta­tion is di­rected by Aaron Hor­vath and Peter Rida Michail, writ­ten by Hor­vath and Michael Je­lenic. “Teen Ti­tans Go! To the Movies” is a deliri­ously de­mented and glee­ful skew­er­ing of DC Comics char­ac­ters, su­per­hero movies and Hol­ly­wood in gen­eral that’s one long in­side joke — with mu­si­cal num­bers!

It’s a clas­sic story of big Hol­ly­wood dreams, wherein Robin (Scott Menville) goes on a quest to at­tain what seems im­pos­si­ble — a meet­ing with a big-time movie di­rec­tor, Jade Wil­son (Kristen Bell). He wants to be a real su­per­hero, along with his crew, the Teen Ti­tans: Cy­borg (Khary Pay­ton), Starfire (Hyn­den Walch), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and Raven (Tara Strong). Based on anec­do­tal ev­i­dence, Robin de­duces the way to be taken se­ri­ously as a real su­per­hero is to have a movie made about you. And to be a real su­per­hero and have a movie made about him, he needs an arch­neme­sis — en­ter Slade (Will Ar­nett).

One of the great things about “Teen Ti­tans Go! To the Movies” is the team be­hind the tele­vi­sion show, in­clud­ing the film­mak­ers and voice ac­tors, have been trans­planted to the big screen and given a big­ger plat­form, rather than re­plac­ing the cre­ators with higher pro­file names. That deep knowl­edge and com­fort with the char­ac­ters shows, as it’s the rapid­fire chem­istry within the group that keeps the film mov­ing at a break­neck pace.

There are cheeky body­hu­mor jokes and rous­ing mu­si­cal num­bers, in­clud­ing an ab­so­lutely epic ’80s jam called “Up­beat,” com­plete with a Lisa Frank-in­spired aes­thetic. There’s a hi­lar­i­ous re­cur­ring Stan Lee cameo (voiced by Lee), roast­ing the Marvel pub­lisher’s thirst for screen time. Most im­por­tantly, there’s a will­ing­ness to poke fun at some of DC’s most iconic char­ac­ters, like Bat­man, Su­per­man and Won­der Woman. It may blow your mind that Nico­las Cage voices Su­per­man, con­sid­er­ing his ob­ses­sion with the char­ac­ter and his failed Su­per­man movie, “Su­per­man Lives.” His son, Kal-El Cage (yes, named af­ter Su­per­man), even voices young Bruce Wayne. This is the kind of mind-bog­gling depth of ref­er­ence go­ing on.

But af­ter such a promis­ing start, it be­comes clear that when stretched to an hour and 33 min­utes, the re­lent­less, fran­tic en­ergy of the Teen Ti­tans can be rather ex­haust­ing. The film be­comes busy, loud and har­ried, never let­ting up on the pace or mak­ing room for lines or jokes to land. The Teen Ti­tans over­stay their wel­come just a hair, as they most likely shine bright­est in a half-hour for­mat. But the film is in­cred­i­bly smart, and funny, and a re­fresh­ingly light­hearted take on these char­ac­ters and cin­e­matic uni­verse. Here’s hop­ing their at­ti­tude is in­fec­tious.

“Teen Ti­tans Go! To The Movies,” a Warner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG for ac­tion and rude hu­mor. Run­ning time: 93 min­utes.



Based on the Car­toon Net­work show, “Teen Ti­tans Go! to the Movies” fea­tures the voices of, from left, Greg Cipes as Beast Boy, Khary Pay­ton as Cy­borg, Scott Menville as Robin, Hyn­den Walch as Starfire and Tara Strong as Raven.

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