The latest opportunity to be dazzled by big drama and high action comes barreling in with “Mission Impossible – Fallout.” With a big box office splash, this film’s opening weekend earned more than $155 million dollars, setting records and proving that Tom Cruise and the “Mission Impossible” franchise have the perfect formula for the ultimate in spy movies.

From the opening scene, be ready to be pulled in (sometimes dazed in) by an intricate plot that involves terrorism, dirty bombs, spy gadgets, dizzying stunts, and indistinguishable lines between the good guys and the bad.

Tom Cruise does many of his own stunts, and that fact alone might account for some of the film’s intensity. Be amazed that with all the digital magic available, Cruise chose to ride a motorcycle (without a helmet) the wrong way through Paris traffic. He chose to fly a helicopter; he chose to parachute at an unusually low altitude; he chose to jump breathtakingly tall buildings in the middle of London. That Tom! After Oprah’s couch, he can conquer anything.

As an IMF agent (Impossible Missions Force), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has history in both fictional and real contexts. In 1996, what began as a 1966 television show morphed into the first film in the franchise “Mission: Impossible.” You don’t have to spend a weekend binge-watching the previous four films since “Fallout” provides enough background that you can fill in the pieces of Hunt’s history.

Cruise developed Hunt’s persona with the psychological depth and finesse that comes only after years of living in that skin. Vulnerable, human, and incapable of cruelty – even the spy variety – Hunt’s major flaw is that he cares too much. He saves the members of his team from annihilation, but loses the suitcase containing plutonium to the terrorists.

IMF boss Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) thrusts Hunt into the battle to secure the plutonium, all the while balancing the process with the CIA’s intervention. Hunt’s forced to partner with August Walker (Henry Cavill), the man brought in by CIA boss Erica Stone (Angela Bassett). Walker’s wild-west style of doing business thrusts delicate undercover negotiations into chaos, and Hunt’s faced with the aftermath.

Members of Hunt’s team create a well-oiled machine, as well they should given their history. Luther Stickwell (Ving Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) have all partnered with Hunt in other spy escapades. Even arch-enemy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) becomes a prisoner pawn in custody because of Hunt’s successful capture of him in a previous encounter.

Suffice it to say that the intricate plot, laced with incredible chases, explosions, aerial scenes, madness, and mayhem, doubles back on itself and snakes through disguises, city streets, and landing platforms. Keeping up will leave your head spinning, but the circumstances are simple. Hunt must save the day, and ultimately, the world.  

Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequence of action and for brief strong language

Marilyn Robitaille writes film reviews for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter.