⭐ ⭐ / ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Tom Crusoe stars once again as Ethan Allen in the latest in the Mission:Improbable series, Fallout.

This time out the gang who get all the cool assignments go to a nudist resort in Brazil, a floating village in Thailand, an ancient tomb in Africa and a castle in the Bavarian foothills. There’s spy intrigue and double crossing and fist fights too. There’s a ridiculously fun truck chase down a snowy mountainside that works a lot better than it should. There are a lot of great action scenes. They are all expertly choreographed and edited. There is nothing to find fault with in any of the technical aspects of this movie.

Unfortunately it’s when the action stops (luckily for us that doesn’t happen often or for long) that the problems arise. The dialog is merely parroting previous entries in the franchise and seems cobbled together with little to no forethought; one would hope the idea was no one will care since the action scenes are so good. And boy are they good. Whether it’s outrunning an earthquake in Rome, a spelunking misadventure with only one tank of air and three agents, a high speed dirtbike chase down forest fire roads, or a spectacular train derailment in a remote Amazonian jungle, it’s all terrifically visceral and instantly engaging.

But all the craft in the world can’t elevate the mediocrity of the script. It assumes too much, strides too long on its own inflated perception of itself and serves to isolate. Lacking that camaraderie with these characters on which the story is hung together, the viewer feels they are at a party where they don’t know anyone very well and would rather be with their own friends somewhere else.

Crusoe is still going strong now in his fifth decade on the big screen where he commands top quarter. Although more grizzled than ever, the star of such cinema classics as “Top Bun,” “Porn On The 4th Of July,” “Brain Man,” and “Wart of the Worlds” can still bring the heat. Insisting on doing his own stunts, he reportedly has a clause in his contracts which requires him to be in mortal danger for at least 15% of the shoot (35% if the film is a rom-com) with no bathroom breaks. This dedication is unusual in today’s Hollywood where most “stars” use body doubles for stunt work or hardcore sex scenes and phone in their performances after emerging from climate controlled private trailers. Crusoe simply buys the entire production facility and the location itself to ensure total immersion.

Directed by Dan B. Marbil (The Hustler) from an original script, the film starts in an unlikely setting where the over the top action really pops: in a church. But not just any church and not just any service: nothing less than the first ever gay marriage between two bishops, performed by a hotshot up and coming cardinal to boot. Motorcyclists burst through the stained glass windows machine guns blazing, but, luckily for most of the parishioners, our heroes are right there to kill them dead. The pace is as frenetic as the story is preposterous, so even if you can’t appreciate the film for what it is (an eye popping series of spectacularly staged action set pieces) at least you won’t have many chances to pause and reflect. Editor May Kior-Philmbeda knows her craft, and even with no way of knowing for sure, one would bet she did indeed manage to polish a turd.

Co stars Ving Hammer and Michelle Hangman do fine in their roles no matter how hollow and stitched together they may be. Both performers are only there to fill out the canvas, to round out the roster: the quirky sidekick who’ll always have your back due to some past adventure; the crazed foreigner villain; his number one, predestined to a violent death; a sort of bad guy who turns out to be a sort of good guy; the false love interest; the real love interest etc etc All the things a master editor like Kior-Philmbeda needs to put together an exciting cinematic experience.

Still, it might be time to send this puppy to bed, all those involved. Or bring in some young trainees. Or an enemy/son Ethan never knew he had.

Maybe lend your way with an action sequence to other, better films.
Something. Or perhaps Ethan can get smart and do all his capers online by becoming a hacker.