Here’s Exactly What You Missed in ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” the sixth (and best) entry in Tom Cruise’s action franchise, is 147 minutes of relentless action, convoluted and shocking twists and lots of Tom Cruise running.

Between the stunning fights, chases and helicopter shootouts, you can be forgiven for losing track of the plot, which doesn’t really matter anyway. That’s because “Fallout” opens with a giant exposition dump that encourages you to just sit back and have fun; don’t bother trying to make sense of it all.

So that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, we’re here to help fill in the blanks.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!)

Also Read: ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’ Film Review: Cruise-ing for Bruising Action in This Jam-Packed Six-Quel

Two years after Ethan Hunt (Cruise) captured Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the baddie from “Rogue Nation,” Lane’s agents, now known as The Apostles, are running rampant. They’re in pursuit of three plutonium cores to use within portable nuclear devices. Already these stakes are delightfully absurd.

Ethan plans to purchase and intercept the plutonium himself, but he loses it when he’s forced to choose between it and the life of his friend and teammate Luther (Ving Rhames).

The terrorists are working with an agent known only by the alias John Lark, who will rendezvous with a broker called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) to obtain the plutonium and arm the nuclear bombs. Fun Easter Egg: When we first meet the White Widow, she refers to her mom “Max,” who was the arms dealer played by Vanessa Redgrave in the very first “Mission: Impossible” film.

Also Read: Can ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Ride Critical Acclaim to Box Office Success?

If there’s one thread that’s been common among all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, it’s that Ethan and the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) are always in need of supervision and oversight from the CIA. In this case, CIA chief Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) blames Ethan and the IMF for losing the plutonium in the first place, and assigns agent August Walker (a mustachioed Henry Cavill) to tag along with Ethan.

The two of them HALO jump out of a plane to sneak into a rave in Paris where Lark and the White Widow plan to meet. Ethan and Walker get in a wall-busting fist fight with the person they suspect could be Lark, leading Ethan to pose as Lark and meet with the White Widow himself. She informs him that in exchange for the plutonium, they need to break Lane out of holding as he’s being moved through Paris.

But after Ethan meets with the Widow, Walker and Sloan have a private meeting in which Walker accuses Ethan of truly being Lark. The man they killed in Paris was actually a decoy, and Ethan, burned by his government one too many times, might be secretly operating under the IMF’s nose.

Also Read: Tom Cruise Can’t Keep Straight Face After First Line of Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Mad Lib Theater’ (Video)

Here’s where things get really complicated, resulting in one of the franchise’s best exchanges of double-crossing and face mask trickery yet.

After capturing Lane, IMF chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) shares with Ethan the CIA’s accusation against him and that the White Widow has been an undercover CIA agent the whole time. And Walker is no babysitter, but an assassin tasked with killing Ethan should he go rogue.

With Ethan now under the microscope, he subdues Hunley and then proceeds to disguise Benji (Simon Pegg) as Lane, planning to hand him over to the terrorists in exchange for the plutonium, leaving Walker alone with the real Lane. It’s here where we learn that Walker, not Ethan, is the real John Lark. (gasp!)

Also Read: ‘Mission: Impossible’ – 10 Stunts That Make Us Think Tom Cruise Has a Death Wish (Photos)

Walker starts conspiring with Lane, saying Lane is more interested in getting revenge on Ethan than in setting their plan in motion. But in a bizarre double switch, Walker realizes he’s been duped and realizes it was Benji in a Lane mask the whole time. Rather than just bring in Walker, Sloan double-crosses Hunley and the IMF, and sicks a CIA SWAT team to bring the whole lot of them in. Walker escapes with Lane — and soon the plutonium — in the mayhem, and Hunley is killed.

After a lengthy foot chase in which Cruise broke his foot performing a stunt, Walker lays a photo of his ex-wife Julia in front of Ethan and explains that he’s her “guardian angel.” “If I see you again, she’s dead.” Ethan and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) then manage to trace Lane and Walker to a medical camp in a remote part of Kashmir where they plan to set off the bombs, only to find that Julia and her new husband (Wes Bentley, weirdly) are stationed there.

A helicopter chase, a cliff-side brawl and 14 minutes and 59 seconds later, the IMF manage to defuse the bombs, Earth is saved, and everything is right in the world again.

Got all that? Now let’s talk about that bananas skydiving sequence, shall we?

Related stories from TheWrap:

All 43 Tom Cruise Movies Ranked, From So-So to Phenomenal (Photos)

Tom Cruise Can’t Keep Straight Face After First Line of Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Mad Lib Theater’ (Video)

Every ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movie Ranked, From ‘Choose to Accept It’ to Impossibly Good (Photos)

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” the sixth (and best) entry in Tom Cruise’s action franchise, is 147 minutes of relentless action, convoluted and shocking twists and lots of Tom Cruise running.

Between the stunning fights, chases and helicopter shootouts, you can be forgiven for losing track of the plot, which doesn’t really matter anyway. That’s because “Fallout” opens with a giant exposition dump that encourages you to just sit back and have fun; don’t bother trying to make sense of it all.

So that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, we’re here to help fill in the blanks.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!)

Two years after Ethan Hunt (Cruise) captured Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the baddie from “Rogue Nation,” Lane’s agents, now known as The Apostles, are running rampant. They’re in pursuit of three plutonium cores to use within portable nuclear devices. Already these stakes are delightfully absurd.

Ethan plans to purchase and intercept the plutonium himself, but he loses it when he’s forced to choose between it and the life of his friend and teammate Luther (Ving Rhames).

The terrorists are working with an agent known only by the alias John Lark, who will rendezvous with a broker called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) to obtain the plutonium and arm the nuclear bombs. Fun Easter Egg: When we first meet the White Widow, she refers to her mom “Max,” who was the arms dealer played by Vanessa Redgrave in the very first “Mission: Impossible” film.

If there’s one thread that’s been common among all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, it’s that Ethan and the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) are always in need of supervision and oversight from the CIA. In this case, CIA chief Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) blames Ethan and the IMF for losing the plutonium in the first place, and assigns agent August Walker (a mustachioed Henry Cavill) to tag along with Ethan.

The two of them HALO jump out of a plane to sneak into a rave in Paris where Lark and the White Widow plan to meet. Ethan and Walker get in a wall-busting fist fight with the person they suspect could be Lark, leading Ethan to pose as Lark and meet with the White Widow himself. She informs him that in exchange for the plutonium, they need to break Lane out of holding as he’s being moved through Paris.

But after Ethan meets with the Widow, Walker and Sloan have a private meeting in which Walker accuses Ethan of truly being Lark. The man they killed in Paris was actually a decoy, and Ethan, burned by his government one too many times, might be secretly operating under the IMF’s nose.

Here’s where things get really complicated, resulting in one of the franchise’s best exchanges of double-crossing and face mask trickery yet.

After capturing Lane, IMF chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) shares with Ethan the CIA’s accusation against him and that the White Widow has been an undercover CIA agent the whole time. And Walker is no babysitter, but an assassin tasked with killing Ethan should he go rogue.

With Ethan now under the microscope, he subdues Hunley and then proceeds to disguise Benji (Simon Pegg) as Lane, planning to hand him over to the terrorists in exchange for the plutonium, leaving Walker alone with the real Lane. It’s here where we learn that Walker, not Ethan, is the real John Lark. (gasp!)

Walker starts conspiring with Lane, saying Lane is more interested in getting revenge on Ethan than in setting their plan in motion. But in a bizarre double switch, Walker realizes he’s been duped and realizes it was Benji in a Lane mask the whole time. Rather than just bring in Walker, Sloan double-crosses Hunley and the IMF, and sicks a CIA SWAT team to bring the whole lot of them in. Walker escapes with Lane — and soon the plutonium — in the mayhem, and Hunley is killed.

After a lengthy foot chase in which Cruise broke his foot performing a stunt, Walker lays a photo of his ex-wife Julia in front of Ethan and explains that he’s her “guardian angel.” “If I see you again, she’s dead.” Ethan and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) then manage to trace Lane and Walker to a medical camp in a remote part of Kashmir where they plan to set off the bombs, only to find that Julia and her new husband (Wes Bentley, weirdly) are stationed there.

A helicopter chase, a cliff-side brawl and 14 minutes and 59 seconds later, the IMF manage to defuse the bombs, Earth is saved, and everything is right in the world again.

Got all that? Now let’s talk about that bananas skydiving sequence, shall we?

Related stories from TheWrap:

All 43 Tom Cruise Movies Ranked, From So-So to Phenomenal (Photos)

Tom Cruise Can't Keep Straight Face After First Line of Jimmy Fallon's 'Mad Lib Theater' (Video)

Every 'Mission: Impossible' Movie Ranked, From 'Choose to Accept It' to Impossibly Good (Photos)

Ving Rhames Was Held at Gunpoint by Cops in His Own Home After a Neighbor Reported a ‘Large Black Man’ Breaking In

The neighbor later denied making the 911 call.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is enjoying highly favorable reviews on its way to what looks to be a strong weekend at the box office, but not all is well among the cast. Ving Rhames revealed during an appearance on the Clay Clane Show yesterday that he was held at gunpoint by the police in his own home earlier this year after a neighbor reported a “large black man” breaking into the house.

Rhames, who lives in Santa Monica, California, told the story after being asked about his own experiences with racism. “This happened this year. I am in my home, it was around 2:15 p.m. in the afternoon,” he said.

“I have a screen door and then I have a wooden door…I’m in my house, I’m in a pair of basketball shorts only. I have two English bulldog puppies. I hear a noise in my backyard, but I’m thinking the puppies are just running around, and then I get a knock on the front door.”

“I open the door and there is a red dot pointed at my face from a 9mm. They say put up your hands, literally. I just walked and opened up the door…then they said, ‘Open the front screen door.’ They say do it with one hand so then I have to do it with one hand. My hands are up and they have me outside,” Rhames continued.

The confrontation ended when the main officer recognized Rhames, who then walked to the house of the neighbor who called the police in the first place; that person denied making the call.

“My problem is, and I said this to them, what if it was my son and he had a video-game remote or something and you thought it was a gun?” Rhames asked. Listen to the full conversation below:

Ving Rhames Says Police Held Him at Gunpoint in His Own Home

Ving Rhames is no stranger to racism. The “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” star said on a radio show that he was held at gunpoint by police in his home after a neighbor called saying that a “large black man” broke into the house.

Rhames shared a story on Sirius XM’s Clay Cane show Friday in response to a question about his experience with racism. He said that while in his home one afternoon in Santa Monica, California, police knocked on his door and pointed a gun at him until the chief of police recognized Rhames and told officers to stand down.

Santa Monica p0lice did not respond to a request for comment at time of writing.

Also Read: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Shoots to $6 Million at Thursday Box Office

“This is the God’s honest truth. This happened this year,” Rhames said. “I open the door and there is a red dot pointed at my face from a 9-mm, and they say ‘put up your hands,’ literally.” Rhames said.

Rhames said he was wearing nothing but basketball shorts when he stepped outside and was surrounded by several officers and a police dog. Thankfully, Rhames said the chief of police recognized him, not because of his fame, but because their children both play on the same sports team.

He then said he spoke with the officers, who informed him that a neighbor had called reporting a break-in by a “large black man.” They provided him with the address of the neighbor, and Rhames went over to the house with an officer, but he said that when he confronted the neighbor, they denied it.

Also Read: Charlize Theron Says ‘Racism’ May Drive Her and Her Black Children Out of the Country

Rhames was also concerned what would’ve happened if his young son had answered the door instead of him.

“What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something and you thought it was a gun. I don’t know, just like Trayvon [Martin] had a bag of Skittles,” Rhames said.

Listen to the full audio clip below:

Related stories from TheWrap:

Every ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movie Ranked, From ‘Choose to Accept It’ to Impossibly Good (Photos)

‘Mission: Impossible’ – 10 Stunts That Make Us Think Tom Cruise Has a Death Wish (Photos)

Can ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Ride Critical Acclaim to Box Office Success?

Ving Rhames is no stranger to racism. The “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” star said on a radio show that he was held at gunpoint by police in his home after a neighbor called saying that a “large black man” broke into the house.

Rhames shared a story on Sirius XM’s Clay Cane show Friday in response to a question about his experience with racism. He said that while in his home one afternoon in Santa Monica, California, police knocked on his door and pointed a gun at him until the chief of police recognized Rhames and told officers to stand down.

Santa Monica p0lice did not respond to a request for comment at time of writing.

“This is the God’s honest truth. This happened this year,” Rhames said. “I open the door and there is a red dot pointed at my face from a 9-mm, and they say ‘put up your hands,’ literally.” Rhames said.

Rhames said he was wearing nothing but basketball shorts when he stepped outside and was surrounded by several officers and a police dog. Thankfully, Rhames said the chief of police recognized him, not because of his fame, but because their children both play on the same sports team.

He then said he spoke with the officers, who informed him that a neighbor had called reporting a break-in by a “large black man.” They provided him with the address of the neighbor, and Rhames went over to the house with an officer, but he said that when he confronted the neighbor, they denied it.

Rhames was also concerned what would’ve happened if his young son had answered the door instead of him.

“What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something and you thought it was a gun. I don’t know, just like Trayvon [Martin] had a bag of Skittles,” Rhames said.

Listen to the full audio clip below:

Related stories from TheWrap:

Every 'Mission: Impossible' Movie Ranked, From 'Choose to Accept It' to Impossibly Good (Photos)

'Mission: Impossible' – 10 Stunts That Make Us Think Tom Cruise Has a Death Wish (Photos)

Can 'Mission: Impossible – Fallout' Ride Critical Acclaim to Box Office Success?

Every ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movie Ranked, From ‘Choose to Accept It’ to Impossibly Good (Photos)

Did anyone ever expect the “Mission: Impossible” franchise to have this much longevity? In every movie, Tom Cruise dons a ridiculous prosthetic mask, pulls off an impossible heist and even ends up forking over the thing he just stole to the…

Did anyone ever expect the “Mission: Impossible” franchise to have this much longevity? In every movie, Tom Cruise dons a ridiculous prosthetic mask, pulls off an impossible heist and even ends up forking over the thing he just stole to the very person he’s trying to keep it from in the first place. But across 22 years, six films and five directors, each “Mission: Impossible” movie has varied wildly in tone, style and cast while pushing the limits of wacky, action set pieces and preserving the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the original TV series. With “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” the sixth film in Cruise and Paramount’s franchise hitting theaters Friday, we chose to accept this nearly impossible mission of trying to decide which ones we like best. This list will self destruct in five seconds.

“Mission: Impossible” (1996)

The first “M:I” film is strange. Up until the ending’s absurd helicopter chase with Cruise clinging for life on the back of a high speeding train, “Mission: Impossible” is not an action movie and miles away from the franchise it would become. But Brian De Palma’s film is still a fascinating story of espionage and suspense. De Palma loads it with foggy, noir-lit alleyways, imposing low-angle close-ups and lots of exposition. Weirdly, one of its most gripping set pieces is literally Tom Cruise sending out hundreds of emails on an ancient computer. But the pin-drop quiet heist sequence holds up beautifully. Cruise’s svelte, acrobatic display is still incredibly engrossing and tense.

“Mission: Impossible II” (2000)

At times watching John Woo’s “Mission: Impossible” sequel is like watching an ad for sunglasses or cologne. The hyper-stylized action, everything from massive and unnecessary explosions, bullet-time slow motion, an endless supply of bullets and bodies, and God help us, doves circling Tom Cruise, feel like an awful relic of the late ’90s. What’s more, Woo’s Ethan Hunt is somewhere between “The Matrix’s Neo” and a smarmy, lothario James Bond. And the film wastes the talents of Thandie Newton and turns her character into a prop. Woo helped transition this franchise what it is today, but “M:I II” has aged horribly.

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006)

If Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the best part of most movies, it’s certainly true of this one. He’s the “M:I” franchise’s best villain; unflinching, ruthless and so emotionally detached that he’s truly scary. Beyond that, there’s a lot to like about “M:I III,” but it lacks one truly memorable, gangbusters set piece. J.J. Abrams goes out of his way to take this franchise much more seriously, bringing along with him his gritty shaky cam, lens flares and turning Ethan Hunt into both a family man and a marine (how is there both a wedding and a funeral in this movie?) rather than a cocky, rogue, super spy. It might be the most polished entry, but also the least fun.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011)

Brad Bird was a natural to direct a “Mission: Impossible” movie. His “Incredibles” films owe quite a bit to the original TV series, and with “Ghost Protocol,” Bird gets to play with campy, even cartoonish gadgets on a big scale. When he levitates Jeremy Renner with a magnetic suit or materializes a giant cushion, landing pad out of thin air, it looks like it should be straight out of a cartoon. Hunt and company are at their dopiest in this movie, but the breezy humor mixed with pathos hits just the right note. And the film’s crown jewel is still seeing the camera creep out the window of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa hotel to see Cruise (yes, that was literally him on the side of the tallest building in the world) make a daring climb and running descent down the side, arguably one of the best action sequences of this decade.

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)

Everything started to click with “Rogue Nation.” From the opening scene of Cruise dangling off the side of a plane, to the elegant, lush assassination scene inside a Vienna opera, to a daring, hyper-kinetic motorcycle chase, the action set pieces are nonstop and each improve upon the last. “Rogue Nation” is popcorn movie fun with some playful dialogue, an often absurd premise and the same campy, prosthetic masks, but it also has genuine stakes and a sense of urgency. Rebecca Ferguson and Sean Harris are terrific standouts, and Cruise’s chemistry with his cast was never better.

“Mission: Impossible” – Fallout” (2018)

Save the best for last. Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie and company dare to do so much with “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” A car chase through Paris continues far after you think it’s about to let up, relentlessly accelerating and quite literally fighting traffic and momentum. An early fight scene in a bathroom is as punishing and hits with as much blunt force as something out of “John Wick.” And one hilariously suspenseful exchange has more twists and double-crosses than you can count. But combine that with a story that grapples with Ethan Hunt’s sense of guilt and morality, and “Fallout” isn’t just the best “Mission: Impossible” movie but one of the best action movies in recent memory. It’s astonishing.

‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’ Film Review: Cruise-ing for Bruising Action in This Jam-Packed Six-Quel

Why does the handsome man with the twinkle in his eye run so hard? (Was that all of London’s rooftops?) Is he chasing, or being chased?

In Tom Cruise’s case, it’s both, as this evergreen movie star with the daredevil heart of a stuntman puts every ounce of effort he can into the long, hard work of maintaining a blockbuster franchise. For the creative minds behind these endeavors, it’s forever a case of keeping ahead of audience expectations, but also running down fans quick to throw their love behind the ever-increasing army of the masked and super-powered.

In the shootout phase of international action franchise competition, then, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” has decidedly zinged one past all caped defenders with a rousing, silly-serious, old-fashioned humdinger that could make a whole audience of veteran action stars nod slowly, wide-eyed, and say, “I remember those days, but I never worked that hard.”

Also Read: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Trailer Goes to New Heights With Tom Cruise (Video)

At nearly two and a half hours, it’s designed to test your patience for the things that matter in these movies — violent confrontation, deception, jokey camaraderie, and over-the-top action — but it does so with a remarkably re-engaged fluidity of purpose.

The only filmmaker to return to the franchise for a second go-round, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (“M:I — Rogue Nation”) may not have the cloak-and-dagger artfulness of Brian DePalma (“Mission: Impossible”) or the giggle-while-you-gasp rollercoaster sensibility of Brad Bird (the series-reviving “Ghost Protocol” entry). But he’s proven to be a sharp and dedicated keeper of the flame, from first drawn gun to last cliffside stunt.

Also Read: Watch Tom Cruise Break His Ankle in Slo-Mo Doing ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Stunt (Video)

Case in point: even the climactic rehash-the-plot/re-examine-the-loyalties dialogue confrontation between the good guys and bad guys has that pinging sense of stakes-raising excitement. Then again, those crazy pull-off disguise masks are involved, and after six movies, the fact that this latex flavoring can still be surprising, funny, and well-timed for plot-shifting effect is all the proof one needs that this may be the sturdiest, most enjoyable popcorn franchise out there.

McQuarrie and gang must have high-fived themselves over that “Fallout” title, with its tripled resonance to the story. It starts with a flubbed mission for Ethan Hunt (Cruise), in which his loyalty to his team — returning players Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, always welcome — is tested in an undercover deal gone sour. The fallout for the IMF gang’s mistake is, well, fallout, since a mysterious anarchist in cahoots with a terrorist sect known as The Apostles plans to detonate nuclear bombs around the world.

Thirdly, though, there’s the definition of the title that action fans care most about: literally tumbling out of a plane at 25,000 feet (which Cruise does for a mission with new franchise member Henry Cavill as a churlish CIA agent) and later from a helicopter in a gonzo climactic setpiece against the Kashmir mountains.

Also Read: Tom Cruise Injury Shuts Down ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ for Up to 8 Weeks

Much of the movie, which sees Hunt re-engaging with Rebecca Ferguson’s principled assassin Ilsa and Sean Harris’ bearded psycho Solomon from the last film, takes place in those espionage stalwarts Paris and London. The former offers its narrow streets, roundabouts, and colonnades for thrillingly conceived high-speed vehicle pursuits, and the latter its rooftops for the on-foot kind.

These sequences – thrillingly conceived and only mildly digital in execution — give this particular installment the semi-nostalgic feel of a Frankenheimer-esque, Friedkin-tinged European spy thriller from the genre’s heyday.

There’s also an effort to enrich the personal story of Ethan Hunt, most notably in the return of Michelle Monaghan as the love that got away, and whose appearance adds the right amount of extra concern – and not in some outmoded damsel way — to the conclusion’s escalating peril. A suitably officious Alec Baldwin is also back as newly committed IMF head Hunley, but the addition of Angela Bassett as a scheming CIA head isn’t as fizzily fun as it should be.

Cavill, meanwhile, as Bassett’s charge, does his best to make his performance distract from his physical stature and mustache, but that isn’t always possible. As for the absence of Jeremy Renner, there’s simply too much going on to notice, which is another indication of the series’ durability.

Also Read: Henry Cavill Apologizes for ‘Insensitive’ #MeToo Comments

And Cruise? Whose faith in extending “M:I” beyond its laughable second and ho-hum third entries has paid massive dividends? As one of the world’s last remaining old-school action stars, he’s obviously loath to show his middle-agedness, as the sheer amount of derring-do suggests. (The building-hopping stunt in which Cruise broke his ankle is there in all its ouch-y glory, which would be when the ghost of Burt Lancaster winks in appreciation.)

And yet, as a solidly dependable actor, he also knows the comic value of an exasperated reaction in a fantastically bruising bathroom brawl, and the importance of grounding a globetrotting adventure brand in the occasional nod to heroic integrity. When Hunt stops to apologize to a bystander caught in crossfire, it’s both ludicrous and appealing, the right touch of humanity in the middle of the chaos we love.

Then Cruise is back to the chase, a star on a mission, and summer suddenly feels fun again.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Iceman Returneth: Val Kilmer Back for ‘Top Gun’ Sequel With Tom Cruise (Exclusive)

Tom Cruise Feels the Need for Speed in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Production Start Tease (Photo)

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Trailer Goes to New Heights With Tom Cruise (Video)

Why does the handsome man with the twinkle in his eye run so hard? (Was that all of London’s rooftops?) Is he chasing, or being chased?

In Tom Cruise’s case, it’s both, as this evergreen movie star with the daredevil heart of a stuntman puts every ounce of effort he can into the long, hard work of maintaining a blockbuster franchise. For the creative minds behind these endeavors, it’s forever a case of keeping ahead of audience expectations, but also running down fans quick to throw their love behind the ever-increasing army of the masked and super-powered.

In the shootout phase of international action franchise competition, then, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” has decidedly zinged one past all caped defenders with a rousing, silly-serious, old-fashioned humdinger that could make a whole audience of veteran action stars nod slowly, wide-eyed, and say, “I remember those days, but I never worked that hard.”

At nearly two and a half hours, it’s designed to test your patience for the things that matter in these movies — violent confrontation, deception, jokey camaraderie, and over-the-top action — but it does so with a remarkably re-engaged fluidity of purpose.

The only filmmaker to return to the franchise for a second go-round, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (“M:I — Rogue Nation”) may not have the cloak-and-dagger artfulness of Brian DePalma (“Mission: Impossible”) or the giggle-while-you-gasp rollercoaster sensibility of Brad Bird (the series-reviving “Ghost Protocol” entry). But he’s proven to be a sharp and dedicated keeper of the flame, from first drawn gun to last cliffside stunt.

Case in point: even the climactic rehash-the-plot/re-examine-the-loyalties dialogue confrontation between the good guys and bad guys has that pinging sense of stakes-raising excitement. Then again, those crazy pull-off disguise masks are involved, and after six movies, the fact that this latex flavoring can still be surprising, funny, and well-timed for plot-shifting effect is all the proof one needs that this may be the sturdiest, most enjoyable popcorn franchise out there.

McQuarrie and gang must have high-fived themselves over that “Fallout” title, with its tripled resonance to the story. It starts with a flubbed mission for Ethan Hunt (Cruise), in which his loyalty to his team — returning players Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, always welcome — is tested in an undercover deal gone sour. The fallout for the IMF gang’s mistake is, well, fallout, since a mysterious anarchist in cahoots with a terrorist sect known as The Apostles plans to detonate nuclear bombs around the world.

Thirdly, though, there’s the definition of the title that action fans care most about: literally tumbling out of a plane at 25,000 feet (which Cruise does for a mission with new franchise member Henry Cavill as a churlish CIA agent) and later from a helicopter in a gonzo climactic setpiece against the Kashmir mountains.

Much of the movie, which sees Hunt re-engaging with Rebecca Ferguson’s principled assassin Ilsa and Sean Harris’ bearded psycho Solomon from the last film, takes place in those espionage stalwarts Paris and London. The former offers its narrow streets, roundabouts, and colonnades for thrillingly conceived high-speed vehicle pursuits, and the latter its rooftops for the on-foot kind.

These sequences – thrillingly conceived and only mildly digital in execution — give this particular installment the semi-nostalgic feel of a Frankenheimer-esque, Friedkin-tinged European spy thriller from the genre’s heyday.

There’s also an effort to enrich the personal story of Ethan Hunt, most notably in the return of Michelle Monaghan as the love that got away, and whose appearance adds the right amount of extra concern – and not in some outmoded damsel way — to the conclusion’s escalating peril. A suitably officious Alec Baldwin is also back as newly committed IMF head Hunley, but the addition of Angela Bassett as a scheming CIA head isn’t as fizzily fun as it should be.

Cavill, meanwhile, as Bassett’s charge, does his best to make his performance distract from his physical stature and mustache, but that isn’t always possible. As for the absence of Jeremy Renner, there’s simply too much going on to notice, which is another indication of the series’ durability.

And Cruise? Whose faith in extending “M:I” beyond its laughable second and ho-hum third entries has paid massive dividends? As one of the world’s last remaining old-school action stars, he’s obviously loath to show his middle-agedness, as the sheer amount of derring-do suggests. (The building-hopping stunt in which Cruise broke his ankle is there in all its ouch-y glory, which would be when the ghost of Burt Lancaster winks in appreciation.)

And yet, as a solidly dependable actor, he also knows the comic value of an exasperated reaction in a fantastically bruising bathroom brawl, and the importance of grounding a globetrotting adventure brand in the occasional nod to heroic integrity. When Hunt stops to apologize to a bystander caught in crossfire, it’s both ludicrous and appealing, the right touch of humanity in the middle of the chaos we love.

Then Cruise is back to the chase, a star on a mission, and summer suddenly feels fun again.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Iceman Returneth: Val Kilmer Back for 'Top Gun' Sequel With Tom Cruise (Exclusive)

Tom Cruise Feels the Need for Speed in 'Top Gun: Maverick' Production Start Tease (Photo)

'Mission: Impossible – Fallout' Trailer Goes to New Heights With Tom Cruise (Video)

‘Cagney & Lacey’ Reboot: Ving Rhames Joins Cast

Ving Rhames has been cast in CBS’ “Cagney & Lacey” reboot pilot. Rhames will play oolice Capt. Stark, the LAPD homicide coordinator who is described as unflappable and a leader who inspires loyalty in everyone around him. His feature film credits include “Father Figures,” “Pulp Fiction.” “Con Air,” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. He joins […]

Ving Rhames has been cast in CBS’ “Cagney & Lacey” reboot pilot. Rhames will play oolice Capt. Stark, the LAPD homicide coordinator who is described as unflappable and a leader who inspires loyalty in everyone around him. His feature film credits include “Father Figures,” “Pulp Fiction.” “Con Air,” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. He joins […]

‘Cagney & Lacey’: Ving Rhames To Co-Star In CBS’ Reboot Pilot

Ving Rhames has been tapped to co-star opposite Sarah Drew and Michelle Hurd in CBS’ drama pilot Cagney & Lacey, a reboot of the iconic 1980s police procedural.

CBS

Written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez, the new Cagney & Lacey will follow the two female police detectives, Cagney (Drew) and Lacey (Hurd), and friends who keep the streets of Los Angeles safe.
Rhames will play Police Capt. Stark, the LAPD Homicide Coordinator who is unflappable and…

Ving Rhames has been tapped to co-star opposite Sarah Drew and Michelle Hurd in CBS’ drama pilot Cagney & Lacey, a reboot of the iconic 1980s police procedural. CBS Written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez, the new Cagney & Lacey will follow the two female police detectives, Cagney (Drew) and Lacey (Hurd), and friends who keep the streets of Los Angeles safe. Rhames will play Police Capt. Stark, the LAPD Homicide Coordinator who is unflappable and…

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’: Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt Is Back in New Trailer (Video)

Paramount released the first trailer for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” which will see Tom Cruise return as Ethan Hunt as he and his IMF team scramble to save the world from chaos (again) after a mission gone wrong (again).

The trailer comes after the film’s poster was unveiled earlier this week, featuring Ethan dangling from a helicopter flying over mountains. The trailer shows Ethan getting into the sort of gunfights and hand-to-hand scraps that “M:I” fans are used too, but most notably it shows the London rooftop jump that cost Cruise a broken ankle during filming.

Along with Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, and Sean Harris are returning to the series. New additions to the cast include Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Sian Brooke, and Henry Cavill, who is sporting the mustache that had to be edited out in “Justice League.”

Also Read: Watch Tom Cruise Break His Ankle in Slo-Mo Doing ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Stunt (Video)

The film is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who worked on the previous film in the series, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” hits theaters July 27. Watch the full trailer above.

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Angela Bassett Set to Play CIA Director in ‘Mission: Impossible 6’

Paramount released the first trailer for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” which will see Tom Cruise return as Ethan Hunt as he and his IMF team scramble to save the world from chaos (again) after a mission gone wrong (again).

The trailer comes after the film’s poster was unveiled earlier this week, featuring Ethan dangling from a helicopter flying over mountains. The trailer shows Ethan getting into the sort of gunfights and hand-to-hand scraps that “M:I” fans are used too, but most notably it shows the London rooftop jump that cost Cruise a broken ankle during filming.

Along with Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, and Sean Harris are returning to the series. New additions to the cast include Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Sian Brooke, and Henry Cavill, who is sporting the mustache that had to be edited out in “Justice League.”

The film is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who worked on the previous film in the series, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” hits theaters July 27. Watch the full trailer above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch Tom Cruise Break His Ankle in Slo-Mo Doing 'Mission: Impossible – Fallout' Stunt (Video)

Tom Cruise Reveals New 'Mission: Impossible' Title, Teases High-Flying Stunt

Angela Bassett Set to Play CIA Director in 'Mission: Impossible 6'

‘Father Figures’ Movie Review: Owen Wilson and Ed Helms Find No Laughs in Their Daddy Hunt

Watching “Father Figures” is like finding a piece of food in the back of your fridge that you barely recognize, but know right away it’s not worth eating. Ostensibly a comedy in which Ed Helms and Owen Wilson try to find the dad they never knew, it unfurls its stale scenarios of familial grievance, R-rated gags and white male anxiety with a breathtaking level of laziness.

The weird thing is, a couple of smart, funny dudes this year have done well mining the neurotic Caucasian dad world for prickly, insightful entertainment: Noah Baumbach with “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” and Mike White with “Brad’s Status.” But “Father Figures,” which marks the directorial debut of “Hangover” cinematographer Lawrence Sher, and was written by Justin Malen (“Office Christmas Party”), exhibits the faint aura of a fill-in-the-blanks Hollywood assignment (for example, “plug up a hole in Owen Wilson’s schedule”), after which someone drew dirty pictures in the margins.

Helms plays Peter, an embittered, divorced father of a teenage boy (Zachary Haven) who hates him, and twin brother to a chill layabout named Kyle (Wilson) whose moneyed life in Hawaii with a sexy young bride (Jessica Gomes) is the exact opposite of Pete’s: charmed and carefree. Reunited at the wedding of their mother Helen (Glenn Close), the brothers learn that their dad wasn’t a husband who died when they were young, but an unknown out of many possible sexual assignations their mother had in the swinging ’70s.

Also Read: Sony Pictures Classics Acquires North American Rights to Glenn Close’s ‘The Wife’

The revelation is enough to send Peter and Kyle on a road trip together to find their father, and because they don’t get along — well, it’s really Pete’s churlish negativity versus Kyle’s untroubled positivity — the movie practically guarantees a certain amount of bickering and infantilized behavior. As Yoda might say to the screen, “The jinks are high with this one.”

In Miami, the pair scope out Terry Bradshaw (playing himself, which he’s good at) as a potential parent, and then must endure highly graphic depictions of their mother’s sexual prowess from the ex-Steeler and a fellow NFL retiree (Ving Rhames) before the brothers’ quest is known to the footballers. (That this requires you to imagine Glenn Close in these pornographic reveries is more like a joke played on a great actress than an actual joke.)

Tipped off that their dad might have been a Wall Street wunderkind who once partied at Studio 54 with their mom, the brothers then head off to find Roland Hunt (an expectedly committed J.K. Simmons), who turns out to be a dragon-tattooed, gun-wielding hermit whose antics nearly get them killed.

Also Read: Comedy Central Sets ‘Fake News With Ted Nelms’ Special Starring Ed Helms

Certain scenes are simply headscratchers: a rest area stop that leads to Kyle urinating on a boy, and the picking up of a hitchhiker (Katt Williams, valiantly playing along) that involves tying him up because the brothers think he’s a serial killer. (Um, Peter’s the one with serial killer eyes, no?) On their way to Wooster, Massachusetts, to explore the possibility that their dad was a decorated cop, Peter successfully flirts with a woman at a hotel bar, and when I jotted down, guessing, a certain sexual taboo in my notes, I was right.

A movie that makes Peter a proctologist partly for the rectum humor, that is race-queasy and glibly sexist, isn’t too hard to figure out in other ways. Sher shows no special affinity for comic pacing or enlivening dialogue scenes, either, so the movie just plods from scene to scene, building no momentum.

Also Read: TBS Greenlights Daniel Radcliffe-Owen Wilson Sitcom, Snoop Dogg-Hosted ‘Joker’s Wild’ Reboot

The autopilot vibe extends to the stars, too. Helms is running on fumes here with his humiliated-dweeb shtick, the movies he’s making a far cry from the sad sack promise he showed in “Cedar Rapids” and “The Office.” Wilson is Wilson — he always at least tries to have chemistry with his buddy vehicles — and it’s safe to wonder if he’ll still be trying to pull off the same beach-kissed, holistic groove when the movies are about retirees pulling off heists. (Grandpa Owen has a free autumn: sign him up!)

At the end, after Christopher Walken and a terribly used Ali Wong share scene time with a cat’s enlarged testicles in a veterinarian’s office, “Father Figures” makes a hard swerve into emotionality for the big reveal about the brothers’ origins. What you’re left with isn’t a warm feeling about mothers and sacrifice; you’ll just wonder why this had to be a big secret in the first place.

Neither committed to forging new comic ground with its wackiness, or savvy enough to make us care about a family journey, “Father Figures” is its own dad stereotype: it’s never there for you.



Related stories from TheWrap:

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Billy Joel, J.K. Simmons, Jimmy Fallon Belt Out Doo-Wop Version of ‘The Longest Time’ (Video)

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Beer and Boasting in Las Vegas: the Story of a Fox Comedy Premiere at 30,000 Feet

Watching “Father Figures” is like finding a piece of food in the back of your fridge that you barely recognize, but know right away it’s not worth eating. Ostensibly a comedy in which Ed Helms and Owen Wilson try to find the dad they never knew, it unfurls its stale scenarios of familial grievance, R-rated gags and white male anxiety with a breathtaking level of laziness.

The weird thing is, a couple of smart, funny dudes this year have done well mining the neurotic Caucasian dad world for prickly, insightful entertainment: Noah Baumbach with “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” and Mike White with “Brad’s Status.” But “Father Figures,” which marks the directorial debut of “Hangover” cinematographer Lawrence Sher, and was written by Justin Malen (“Office Christmas Party”), exhibits the faint aura of a fill-in-the-blanks Hollywood assignment (for example, “plug up a hole in Owen Wilson’s schedule”), after which someone drew dirty pictures in the margins.

Helms plays Peter, an embittered, divorced father of a teenage boy (Zachary Haven) who hates him, and twin brother to a chill layabout named Kyle (Wilson) whose moneyed life in Hawaii with a sexy young bride (Jessica Gomes) is the exact opposite of Pete’s: charmed and carefree. Reunited at the wedding of their mother Helen (Glenn Close), the brothers learn that their dad wasn’t a husband who died when they were young, but an unknown out of many possible sexual assignations their mother had in the swinging ’70s.

The revelation is enough to send Peter and Kyle on a road trip together to find their father, and because they don’t get along — well, it’s really Pete’s churlish negativity versus Kyle’s untroubled positivity — the movie practically guarantees a certain amount of bickering and infantilized behavior. As Yoda might say to the screen, “The jinks are high with this one.”

In Miami, the pair scope out Terry Bradshaw (playing himself, which he’s good at) as a potential parent, and then must endure highly graphic depictions of their mother’s sexual prowess from the ex-Steeler and a fellow NFL retiree (Ving Rhames) before the brothers’ quest is known to the footballers. (That this requires you to imagine Glenn Close in these pornographic reveries is more like a joke played on a great actress than an actual joke.)

Tipped off that their dad might have been a Wall Street wunderkind who once partied at Studio 54 with their mom, the brothers then head off to find Roland Hunt (an expectedly committed J.K. Simmons), who turns out to be a dragon-tattooed, gun-wielding hermit whose antics nearly get them killed.

Certain scenes are simply headscratchers: a rest area stop that leads to Kyle urinating on a boy, and the picking up of a hitchhiker (Katt Williams, valiantly playing along) that involves tying him up because the brothers think he’s a serial killer. (Um, Peter’s the one with serial killer eyes, no?) On their way to Wooster, Massachusetts, to explore the possibility that their dad was a decorated cop, Peter successfully flirts with a woman at a hotel bar, and when I jotted down, guessing, a certain sexual taboo in my notes, I was right.

A movie that makes Peter a proctologist partly for the rectum humor, that is race-queasy and glibly sexist, isn’t too hard to figure out in other ways. Sher shows no special affinity for comic pacing or enlivening dialogue scenes, either, so the movie just plods from scene to scene, building no momentum.

The autopilot vibe extends to the stars, too. Helms is running on fumes here with his humiliated-dweeb shtick, the movies he’s making a far cry from the sad sack promise he showed in “Cedar Rapids” and “The Office.” Wilson is Wilson — he always at least tries to have chemistry with his buddy vehicles — and it’s safe to wonder if he’ll still be trying to pull off the same beach-kissed, holistic groove when the movies are about retirees pulling off heists. (Grandpa Owen has a free autumn: sign him up!)

At the end, after Christopher Walken and a terribly used Ali Wong share scene time with a cat’s enlarged testicles in a veterinarian’s office, “Father Figures” makes a hard swerve into emotionality for the big reveal about the brothers’ origins. What you’re left with isn’t a warm feeling about mothers and sacrifice; you’ll just wonder why this had to be a big secret in the first place.

Neither committed to forging new comic ground with its wackiness, or savvy enough to make us care about a family journey, “Father Figures” is its own dad stereotype: it’s never there for you.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Christmas Box Office Preview: Can New Movies Survive in 'Star Wars' Shadow?

Billy Joel, J.K. Simmons, Jimmy Fallon Belt Out Doo-Wop Version of 'The Longest Time' (Video)

Tina Fey, Robert Carlock to Receive Honorary Comedy Prize From WGA East

Beer and Boasting in Las Vegas: the Story of a Fox Comedy Premiere at 30,000 Feet

‘The Star’ Film Review: Fail, Mary

The first Christmas has always been something of a challenge for big-screen treatments. Treated too reverently, there’s not enough drama to make the birth of Jesus all that interesting. (I’m zero-for-two at staying awake through the well-intentioned “The Nativity Story.”) Filmmakers who tweak the material, on the other hand, can expect the kind of placard-waving protestors that greeted the U.S. premieres of “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian” or Jean-Luc Godard’s “Hail, Mary.”

So now we get “The Star,” which attempts to retell the Nativity story through the eyes of some sassy talking barnyard animals, and the results are an uncomfortable mixture of sanctimony and silliness. One senses director Timothy Reckart and screenwriter Carlos Kotkin (“Rio 2”) trying to split the difference between Sunday school and the Cartoon Network, but the results meet the standards of neither.

The youngest of viewers won’t mind the transitions from poop jokes to angelic visitations, but their parents will be forgiven for finding the proceedings erratic when they’re not just plain dull. Even at 86 minutes, “The Star” often feels like it’s taking the long way around to its destination of the Bethlehem stable.

Also Read: Pixar’s ‘Coco,’ 2 Lego Movies Top List of 26 Oscars Animation Contenders

We open (the film’s most solid gag is the title card that tells us its “Nine Months B.C.”) on a wide-eyed mouse (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) bounding into the home of young Mary (Gina Rodriguez), who shares a scrap of her bread with the rodent. Before either can eat, however, the shiny outline of Gabriel appears to tell Mary that she’s going to bear the Messiah, news that the teen takes relatively in stride.

Meanwhile, in a barn across town, a donkey (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead”) walks in a circle grinding down grain but dreams of one day marching among kings with his best pal, Dave the dove (Keegan-Michael Key), flying overhead.

The donkey injures himself while escaping from the miller who owns him, and it’s newlywed Mary who tends to the ass (and names him “Bo”) over the objections of her husband, Joseph (Zachary Levi). Joseph, for his part, is a bit gobsmacked to discover that his new wife is not only pregnant but also carrying the son of God, but the Lord quickly talks him off the ledge.

Also Read: Disney Cancels ‘Jack in the Beanstalk’ Animated Film ‘Gigantic’

When the Magi show up early with gifts and tip off Herod (Christopher Plummer) that there’s a new king in town, he sends out an assassin (leading vicious dogs voiced by Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias) to find and kill the baby. So it’s up to Bo and Dave and their sheep pal Ruth (Aidy Bryant) to save the day as Mary and Joseph travel to Nazareth to participate in Herod’s census.

If the jokes were smarter or the spirituality subtler, there’s no reason why this amalgam couldn’t work. The various animals are, after all, baked into the story, and the notion of them communicating with each other was already the basis of a 1970 TV special, “The Night the Animals Talked.”

But “The Star” puts us through the basic plot beats of most kid’s movies (believing in yourself and dreaming big are major themes here) while throwing in Biblical messages with an ungainly thump. (When all seems lost, Bo looks skyward with his big eyes and says, “I guess I could try…praying?” A better spin on the line might have been, “Are you there, God? It’s me, donkey.”)

Also Read: Mariah Carey Cancels Christmas Shows Due to ‘Lovely Upper Respiratory Infection’

The all-star vocal cast is a very mixed bag, with Bryant’s sincere eccentricity making the most impact. The bad guys are bad, the wise-crackers are snappy, and Oprah Winfrey (as a camel) gets assigned the most unctuous lines about the impending birth of the Christ child.

And as if the dialogue weren’t heavy-handed enough, the song choices tend to be quite on the nose — you can pretty much guess where “Mary, Did You Know?” is going to turn up.

As an animated feature, “The Star” isn’t much to look at; the character design is fairly personality-free and the Biblical locations don’t pop with specificity or artistry. Linus Van Pelt tells this same story with far more heart in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and he wraps it up in less than two minutes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ Review: Scrooge’s Origin Story Ends Up a Bit of a Humbug

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‘Bob’s Burgers’ Headed to the Big Screen in Animated Feature Film

The first Christmas has always been something of a challenge for big-screen treatments. Treated too reverently, there’s not enough drama to make the birth of Jesus all that interesting. (I’m zero-for-two at staying awake through the well-intentioned “The Nativity Story.”) Filmmakers who tweak the material, on the other hand, can expect the kind of placard-waving protestors that greeted the U.S. premieres of “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian” or Jean-Luc Godard’s “Hail, Mary.”

So now we get “The Star,” which attempts to retell the Nativity story through the eyes of some sassy talking barnyard animals, and the results are an uncomfortable mixture of sanctimony and silliness. One senses director Timothy Reckart and screenwriter Carlos Kotkin (“Rio 2”) trying to split the difference between Sunday school and the Cartoon Network, but the results meet the standards of neither.

The youngest of viewers won’t mind the transitions from poop jokes to angelic visitations, but their parents will be forgiven for finding the proceedings erratic when they’re not just plain dull. Even at 86 minutes, “The Star” often feels like it’s taking the long way around to its destination of the Bethlehem stable.

We open (the film’s most solid gag is the title card that tells us its “Nine Months B.C.”) on a wide-eyed mouse (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) bounding into the home of young Mary (Gina Rodriguez), who shares a scrap of her bread with the rodent. Before either can eat, however, the shiny outline of Gabriel appears to tell Mary that she’s going to bear the Messiah, news that the teen takes relatively in stride.

Meanwhile, in a barn across town, a donkey (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead”) walks in a circle grinding down grain but dreams of one day marching among kings with his best pal, Dave the dove (Keegan-Michael Key), flying overhead.

The donkey injures himself while escaping from the miller who owns him, and it’s newlywed Mary who tends to the ass (and names him “Bo”) over the objections of her husband, Joseph (Zachary Levi). Joseph, for his part, is a bit gobsmacked to discover that his new wife is not only pregnant but also carrying the son of God, but the Lord quickly talks him off the ledge.

When the Magi show up early with gifts and tip off Herod (Christopher Plummer) that there’s a new king in town, he sends out an assassin (leading vicious dogs voiced by Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias) to find and kill the baby. So it’s up to Bo and Dave and their sheep pal Ruth (Aidy Bryant) to save the day as Mary and Joseph travel to Nazareth to participate in Herod’s census.

If the jokes were smarter or the spirituality subtler, there’s no reason why this amalgam couldn’t work. The various animals are, after all, baked into the story, and the notion of them communicating with each other was already the basis of a 1970 TV special, “The Night the Animals Talked.”

But “The Star” puts us through the basic plot beats of most kid’s movies (believing in yourself and dreaming big are major themes here) while throwing in Biblical messages with an ungainly thump. (When all seems lost, Bo looks skyward with his big eyes and says, “I guess I could try…praying?” A better spin on the line might have been, “Are you there, God? It’s me, donkey.”)

The all-star vocal cast is a very mixed bag, with Bryant’s sincere eccentricity making the most impact. The bad guys are bad, the wise-crackers are snappy, and Oprah Winfrey (as a camel) gets assigned the most unctuous lines about the impending birth of the Christ child.

And as if the dialogue weren’t heavy-handed enough, the song choices tend to be quite on the nose — you can pretty much guess where “Mary, Did You Know?” is going to turn up.

As an animated feature, “The Star” isn’t much to look at; the character design is fairly personality-free and the Biblical locations don’t pop with specificity or artistry. Linus Van Pelt tells this same story with far more heart in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and he wraps it up in less than two minutes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Holiday Season Overload? '25 Days of Christmas' Expands to ABC, Disney Channel

'The Man Who Invented Christmas' Review: Scrooge's Origin Story Ends Up a Bit of a Humbug

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Does ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ Have a Post-Credits Scene?

The movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are well-known for their post-credits stinger scenes, often teasing future movies and ties to the greater web of movies.

It’s been a pretty meaningful part of Marvel’s attempts at building out its shared movie universe — all the seemingly unrelated events taking place in the various subfranchises are incessantly being tied together with these small bits and pieces that Marvel without fail includes after the credits run at the end of its movies.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” to no one’s surprise, is not an exception to the MCU rule of post-credits clues and teases — in fact, it probably sets a record for post-credits scenes.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” packs not one or two, but five coda scenes once the movie has officially ended. Most of them are just additional jokes, but a few tease the state of the greater Marvel universe, and one is an Easter egg that all but confirms a fun fan theory about Stan Lee‘s cameos in the MCU films.

Also Read: All 46 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2’ (Photos)

The post-credits scene that’s probably most important to the continued story of the Guardians is the one that features the gold-skinned Sovereign. Burned by the Guardians during the movie, the Sovereign high priestess vows revenge against the team for the insult. She mentions her weapon for striking back: someone she calls “Adam.”

Another probably relevant scene for future Guardians entries into the MCU features the Ravager characters that show up for Yondu’s funeral at the end of the movie. Led by Stark Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), these characters are actually the original Guardians of the Galaxy from the Marvel Comics in the 1970s. The rest of the team includes Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus), and the computer-generated character Krugarr. The last person they hang out with? Yondu (Michael Rooker).

“Guardians” director James Gunn has said he hopes the newly reassembled Ravagers might head off to get into their own adventures.

Also Read: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Review: Second Album Is All Hooks, No Deep Cuts

As for the Stan Lee scene, it finds him hanging out with The Watchers, a group of all-seeing cosmic beings who observe intelligent life in the universe. Fans have speculated the secret behind Lee’s cameos in every MCU movie is that he’s a Watcher as well. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” doesn’t quite confirm that theory, but it comes close.

The other scenes extend a couple of jokes from the movie. One featured a growing Groot, now beyond the baby stage to become a tree teenager. The other found Kraglin (Sean Gunn) practicing with Yondu’s control fin and dart — ultimately accidentally stabbing Drax (Dave Bautista) with it.

The movie also made another sly reference to other MCU films, tossing in Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster from the upcoming “Thor: Ragnarok.”

With all the post-credits goodness when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” ends, it’s best not to leave your seat until every name at the end of the MCU’s latest has rolled.

Related stories from TheWrap:

All 46 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2’ (Photos)

Yes, That’s David Hasselhoff Rapping on the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ Soundtrack (Audio)

First Look at Kurt Russell as Ego in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ Trailer (Video)

The movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are well-known for their post-credits stinger scenes, often teasing future movies and ties to the greater web of movies.

It’s been a pretty meaningful part of Marvel’s attempts at building out its shared movie universe — all the seemingly unrelated events taking place in the various subfranchises are incessantly being tied together with these small bits and pieces that Marvel without fail includes after the credits run at the end of its movies.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” to no one’s surprise, is not an exception to the MCU rule of post-credits clues and teases — in fact, it probably sets a record for post-credits scenes.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” packs not one or two, but five coda scenes once the movie has officially ended. Most of them are just additional jokes, but a few tease the state of the greater Marvel universe, and one is an Easter egg that all but confirms a fun fan theory about Stan Lee‘s cameos in the MCU films.

The post-credits scene that’s probably most important to the continued story of the Guardians is the one that features the gold-skinned Sovereign. Burned by the Guardians during the movie, the Sovereign high priestess vows revenge against the team for the insult. She mentions her weapon for striking back: someone she calls “Adam.”

Another probably relevant scene for future Guardians entries into the MCU features the Ravager characters that show up for Yondu’s funeral at the end of the movie. Led by Stark Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), these characters are actually the original Guardians of the Galaxy from the Marvel Comics in the 1970s. The rest of the team includes Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus), and the computer-generated character Krugarr. The last person they hang out with? Yondu (Michael Rooker).

“Guardians” director James Gunn has said he hopes the newly reassembled Ravagers might head off to get into their own adventures.

As for the Stan Lee scene, it finds him hanging out with The Watchers, a group of all-seeing cosmic beings who observe intelligent life in the universe. Fans have speculated the secret behind Lee’s cameos in every MCU movie is that he’s a Watcher as well. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” doesn’t quite confirm that theory, but it comes close.

The other scenes extend a couple of jokes from the movie. One featured a growing Groot, now beyond the baby stage to become a tree teenager. The other found Kraglin (Sean Gunn) practicing with Yondu’s control fin and dart — ultimately accidentally stabbing Drax (Dave Bautista) with it.

The movie also made another sly reference to other MCU films, tossing in Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster from the upcoming “Thor: Ragnarok.”

With all the post-credits goodness when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” ends, it’s best not to leave your seat until every name at the end of the MCU’s latest has rolled.

Related stories from TheWrap:

All 46 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including 'Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2' (Photos)

Yes, That's David Hasselhoff Rapping on the 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2' Soundtrack (Audio)

First Look at Kurt Russell as Ego in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2' Trailer (Video)

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′: Huge Cameos Confirmed, Cool Characters Unveiled

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you don’t want to know revelations from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” before it opens on May 5)

With the premiere taking over Hollywood on Wednesday night, the Marvel press tour for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” is in full swing this week and a number of major cameos have already been leaked.

Writer and director James Gunn revealed the names of those characters at Thursday’s press conference in West Hollywood, California, and TheWrap was there to get the inside look.

Also Read: James Gunn Returns to Write and Direct ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3’

Towards the end of the sequel to the 2014 hit just before the credits roll, new ravagers Charlie-27 (played by Ving Rhames) and Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh) make their debut.

We won’t get into why they appear because that is an even bigger spoiler, however, they meet up with Stakar (a.k.a. Starhawk), played by Sylvester Stallone, and two other alien characters: Krugar and Mainframe. The five characters then vow to get back together.

For non-hardcore fanboys (who will get this reference), this is an onscreen reunion of some of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” team members from the early ’90s Marvel Comics.

Guardians of the Galaxy 1990 comic

Also Read: Chris Pratt Says ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ Is Better Than ‘Citizen Kane,’ Will Win 7 Super Bowl Rings

Stakar, Charlie-27 and Starhawk’s wife, Aleta, were all characters who, alongside Yondu Udonta (played by Michael Rooker in the film), Major Vance Astro, Martinex and Nikki Gold, formed the basis of the original Guardians team in the comics.

They were active in the 31st century in an alternative time-line of the Marvel Universe known as Earth-691 and had little in the way of major connections with the modern Guardians team brought together in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008 Guardians comic and popularized by Gunn’s first film.

Io9 spoke with Marvel president Kevin Feige about the characters at Thursday’s press junket, who said he expects them to play some role in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

“You will not see [Charlie-27 and Aleta] until [“Guardians”] 3 at the earliest,” he said. “One of the original ideas was, James [Gunn] was fleshing out the character of Yondu … and having the fun of tipping our hat to the original Guardians team. [It] just gives James another set of tools to play with as he’s piecing together future stories.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opens in theaters on May 5.

Related stories from TheWrap:

James Gunn Reveals ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ Has Five Post-Credits Scenes

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’: First Reactions Call It a ‘Tearjerker’

James Gunn Returns to Write and Direct ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3’

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you don’t want to know revelations from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” before it opens on May 5)

With the premiere taking over Hollywood on Wednesday night, the Marvel press tour for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” is in full swing this week and a number of major cameos have already been leaked.

Writer and director James Gunn revealed the names of those characters at Thursday’s press conference in West Hollywood, California, and TheWrap was there to get the inside look.

Towards the end of the sequel to the 2014 hit just before the credits roll, new ravagers Charlie-27 (played by Ving Rhames) and Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh) make their debut.

We won’t get into why they appear because that is an even bigger spoiler, however, they meet up with Stakar (a.k.a. Starhawk), played by Sylvester Stallone, and two other alien characters: Krugar and Mainframe. The five characters then vow to get back together.

For non-hardcore fanboys (who will get this reference), this is an onscreen reunion of some of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” team members from the early ’90s Marvel Comics.

Guardians of the Galaxy 1990 comic

Stakar, Charlie-27 and Starhawk’s wife, Aleta, were all characters who, alongside Yondu Udonta (played by Michael Rooker in the film), Major Vance Astro, Martinex and Nikki Gold, formed the basis of the original Guardians team in the comics.

They were active in the 31st century in an alternative time-line of the Marvel Universe known as Earth-691 and had little in the way of major connections with the modern Guardians team brought together in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008 Guardians comic and popularized by Gunn’s first film.

Io9 spoke with Marvel president Kevin Feige about the characters at Thursday’s press junket, who said he expects them to play some role in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

“You will not see [Charlie-27 and Aleta] until [“Guardians”] 3 at the earliest,” he said. “One of the original ideas was, James [Gunn] was fleshing out the character of Yondu … and having the fun of tipping our hat to the original Guardians team. [It] just gives James another set of tools to play with as he’s piecing together future stories.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opens in theaters on May 5.

Related stories from TheWrap:

James Gunn Reveals 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2' Has Five Post-Credits Scenes

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2': First Reactions Call It a 'Tearjerker'

James Gunn Returns to Write and Direct 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3'