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Tom Cruise could probably smoke the competition in “American Ninja Warrior.”

Thanks to all the stunts he performs in “Mission: Impossible -- Fallout,” he could easily make it into the finals without breaking a sweat.

While the work is admirable, the film is too long, clocking in at 2½ hours – 30 minutes more than it needs to be.

Like those superheroes in “The Avengers,” he’s trying to stop bad guys from blowing up the world. A group of plutonium balls could do it and he has to assemble the team to mount the challenge.

To complicate things, his boss (Angela Bassett) has assigned her right-hand man (Henry Cavill) to protect her interests. He’s a cold calculator, too, who loves to win.

When Cruise’s Ethan Hunt jumps out of a plane, Cavill’s August Walker has to do it better. They plop in Paris and, like a couple of James Bonds, think nothing of walking on glass rooftops.

Director Christopher McQuarrie goes for broke with all his stunts, upping the ante for what can be done in real locations with vulnerable actors.

The two are looking for Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), an agent who joined the Syndicate, a terrorist group that wants to create a new world order. The three plutonium bombs he possesses could do just that. Their goal: Stop him and bring in a few equally sketchy folks like the Apostles and the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby). When the Widow gets Hunt and Walker into a private meeting, the two wind up in a men’s room where they fight off more villains than Batman on Joker Day.

That Cavill is the reigning Superman isn’t lost on this franchise. He still has that distant look and cool demeanor. But now he’s on another team and a bit sour about his secondary status. The pecking order prompts plenty of questions and twice as many action sequences.

McQuarrie makes Paris a secondary character, sending the team (including Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg) through all sorts of catacombs and landmarks.

When the no-nonsense Bassett lampoons their penchant for disguises (“a bunch of grown men in rubber masks playing trick or treat”), you know this isn’t going to be a simple mission.

Indeed, two women from Hunt’s past are here, too, and there’s one of those cliffhangers that suggests folks are digging back to Harold Lloyd for inspiration. No helicopter is left unturned, no ticking clock is out of sync.

“Mission: Impossible Fallout” is likely the best of the six films in the franchise. It finishes business and settles scores. More important, it shows even Dwayne Johnson can’t come close to Cruise when it comes to hanging off a ledge. He’s the master; this is, at least, his David.

‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’

Rated: PG-13 for violence, profanity

Stars: HHHH

Bruce’s Take: Even though it’s TOO LONG, it moves like few films today. Enjoy the ride.



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