MOVIES AND BOOZE: A trip to the flicks is in order this weekend

Esther McCarthy reviews Mission: Impossible - Fallout and Mamma Mia 2

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (12A) ****

The fighting, running, chasing and diving rarely lets up in what is a thrilling and strongly made summer popcorn flick. Tom Cruise reteams with regular collaborator and Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie to up the ante here. 

There are two standouts  -  a breathtaking motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, and a mountain helicopter face-off that is as outrageous as it is audacious. You’ll have to leave your sense of disbelief in the foyer for the latter. 

Still, the movie never really justifies its running time of just under two and a half hours, built on a thinly based storyline of double crosses and twists. 

We meet the same baddie as in the last film. Sean Harris’s Solomon Lane is an endearingly slimy foe whose efforts to wipe out the Impossible Missions Force came close to fruition in Rogue Nation. 

This time, too, Ethan Hunt and his team unwillingly join forces with a CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) as they attempt to nail down a mysterious arms dealer known as John Lark, leading to the mother of all fight sequences in the men’s room of a nightclub. 

Those efforts early in the film end in disaster, leaving Hunt and his team, including Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) in a desperate race against time to track down three massive nuclear devices before they can be detonated in religiously sacred targets. 

Overlong, but one of the best MI movies so far. 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (PG) ***

MAMMA MIA - how can I resist you? This sunny, singing and dancing sequel to the mega smash hit of a decade ago is more assured, more heartfelt and funnier than its predecessor. Those who recoil at the very thought of an eccentric musical packed with ABBA songs will not be won over here, but there is much to like about this charming concept that shouldn’t work but somehow does. 

There is a refreshing lack of sequelitis about this movie, which feels far from a cash-in and commands high levels of commitment and entertainment value from everyone involved. 

That’s not to say that we’re reinventing the wheel here. The paper-thin plot sees Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie struggling with the death of her mother (Meryl Streep) as she sets out to open a hotel in her memory in the paradise she has made her home. 

In a dual story that ties up very neatly and charmingly, Lily James plays the young Donna (Meryl Streep’s character in the last film). We get an origins tale about how Donna courted three different men in one memorable and emotional summer of self discovery, and the dilemmas and decisions it left her facing. It segues into the current story in a way that is moving. 

I found it more entertaining and touching than its predecessor, though the standard of singing from some cast members is starting to grate  -  it’s painful to hear some of those great songs being mangled. Cher’s divaesque arrival on the island, and the cover of Fernando which she makes her own, is the great exception.