DEVIN MEENAN, Arts & Life Editor — A near 25-year-old franchise producing the best film of the pack yet with its sixth installment should be a staunch enough miracle that it can only exist in fantasy. Yet, in 2018, that’s exactly what happened when Mission Impossible: Fallout debuted in theaters. Screened by DFS now slightly over a year after its theatrical run concluded, Fallout solidifies MI as the peak of modern, mainstream action filmmaking.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who previously helmed the series’ fifth entry Rogue Nation (this is the first time a director has returned to the series, and McQuarrie’s involvement is more than welcome), Fallout once again stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, premier agent of the spy agency Impossible Missions Force (IMF). I’ll spare you the details of the plot as spoiling of the story’s twist-laden intricacies would probably just dissuade you from watching the film, and settle to say that during a mission to recover stolen plutonium, Hunt’s past starts catching up to him. 

This is by far the most continuity-laden Mission Impossible film; while most directly building upon Rogue Nation, all the previous films influence the manner in which story unfolds, except MI:2 (it seems the filmmakers are just as content to forget that regrettable misstep as the audience). Comparisons of Fallout to The Dark Knight and Skyfall would be apt; all three use what’s come before to deconstruct then rebuild their franchise’s respective action hero.

The supporting cast is made up almost entirely returning players as well, from Hunt’s constant companion Luther (Ving Rhames), to tech-savvy comic relief Benji (Simon Pegg), to former MI6 agent and Hunt’s equal in the job Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), now firmly on the side of good after shifting allegiances in Rogue Nation. The only fresh face is CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill), but the reason for that quickly becomes clear. 

Moving at an absolutely breakneck pace, the film only pauses to catch its breath for the briefest of intervals, otherwise unloading a thoroughly entertaining barrage of action and narrative turns upon the audience. From an excellently staged and brutally choreographed fisticuffs in the men’s room of a French night-club to a thrilling motorcycle chase through the winding streets of Paris, your heart’s pound will be a constant sensation while you watch Fallout; the film even manages to make the most rote of all action movie climaxes, the ticking-time-bomb, genuinely exhilarating.

Of course, a good deal of the action’s excitement comes from Cruise’s famous willingness to perform these stunts himself; with how ever-increasingly absurd and odds-defying the action of these films become, it almost seems like their star has a death wish. With two more Mission Impossible sequels forthcoming, Cruise may see that wish through yet, but in the interest of them continuing to make these films, let’s hope he doesn’t.