As of midnight tonight, the actors in Hollywood are to be on strike. They join the writers who went out earlier and their main issue is better compensation for their work when it's shown on the streaming services. There's a lot being written about how will this affect the flow of movies coming? Some are sure to be delayed. Part 2, for instance of today's big one, Mission Impossible. It's already been named as an example and wouldn't that be ironic? Part one was interrupted twice, by COVID.

But it's here along with these …

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning part 1: 3 ½ stars

Afire: 4

The Deepest Breath: 4

The Channel: 3

The Miracle Club: 2 ½

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE DEAD RECKONING, part 1: This is what summer movies are all about. Big action, speedy pursuits in locales around the world and a big star often in danger but determined to risk it all. Tom Cruise is that guy these days. Spectacularly. With his second Maverick movie recently, and now this 7th in this series, he's single-handedly rescuing Hollywood, as well as the world (fictionally at least). The threat this time is absolutely current: artificial intelligence. An A.I. Program called “The Entity” which can enter any computer program in the world and disrupt, even shut down, power grids, financial flows or any systems that digital technology runs these days. Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, and his Impossible Mission cohorts, including Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson, have to find out who controls the Entity and defuse it.

Courtesy of Paramount

It's a promising plotline but it feels like we've only got the beginning of it. Who are the villains and what do they plan to do? Two guys seem to be working for The Entity but how? They're working hard to impede Ethan and two government agents are also after him. That gives us plenty of opportunities for action set pieces, including a car chase through Rome, a super thrill on a train which then dangles from an exploded bridge and Cruise doing his own stunts highlighted by a now-famous motorcycle jump off a mountain. The story tries to emerge around all that spectacle and comes to focus on a key that may open something or maybe even shut down The Entity. We don't know. It's in two pieces. Ethan has one half; a new character, a pickpocket played by Hayley Atwell, steals it from him and thereby gets involved in finding the other half. Maybe in Part 2. Here we get the intro. At just 15 minutes short of three hours it feels a bit bloated but with all that action and a fair amount of humor it's good fun. (In theaters everywhere) 3 ½ out of 5

AFIRE: A new one, another gem, from German director Christian Petzold. Add it to his previous films that I've praised, Undine, Transit, Phoenix and Barbara and note that it won a big prize at a major film festival in Berlin. A summer vacation at a beautiful sea shore is the setting but bigger issues provide the substance. Self-absorption for one; story telling too, along with old resentments and new jalousies. It's a vibrant amalgam.

Courtesy of Films we Like

Friends Leon (Thomas Schubert) and Felix (Langston Uibel) arrive at a waterside home and somebody they didn't expect is already there. She's Nadia (Paula Beer) who works as an ice-cream seller (but is later revealled as much more). She's got something going (noisily) with a local life-guard named Devid (an old East German misspelling) played by Enno Trebs. There's lots of possibility there for friction particularly since a distant forest fire symbolically portends danger.

The trigger is creativity. Felix is working on a photo essay about the ocean. Leon is writing a novel, his second, but as the title, Club Sandwich, suggests, it's uninspired. We hear an excerpt later. Nadia says it's bad. Devid tells a better story just spontaneously. Leon is unconnected from the world around him. Can he change? Oh, and his publisher is coming for a visit. It's a highly involving, literate and often playful film with a lot on its mind. (Theaters in seven cities now: including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa; two more next month) 4 out of 5

THE DEEPEST BREATH: It played at Hot Docs in April, will be on Netflix soon and is now in a few select theaters. Good. It looks like it belongs on a big screen as it shows us an especially-extreme sport with beautiful cinematography. It's called freediving. You take in a big breath and see how long you can stay underwater and how deep down you can go. There are competitions, and world records. One depth is compared to a 70-story skyscraper. The main character in this documentary is working her way up to try the record with 104 meters.

Courtesy of Netflix

She's a young Italian names Alessia Zecchini who says she dreamed of the sport since she was a child. The film shows her connecting with Stephen Keenan, a diver himself, who teaches her to work out the mistakes she was making in her technique. She spends a lot of time chasing records set by a Russian athlete and staying ahead of a challenger from Japan who compared herself to a dolphin. We see the competition up close in footage shot by divers or safety officers. Competitors announce what deapth they're going for, pull themselves down on a rope and bring back a disc to prove they got there. Most remarkable is the danger. You hear about “lung squeeze,” how the brain can shut off a few minutes before brain damage, how many people die at the sport. We see people rescued, some almost in convulsions. And we watch one extra dangerous dive and an unexpected result. Gripping and fascinating stuff. (In theaters: Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal) 4 out of 5

THE CHANNEL: Here's proof that you don't need huge amounts of money to put together an effective action picture. Not like Mission Impossible anyway. Just show a bank robbery that goes wrong, the perpetrators on the run and a plausible story that provides some depth. Maybe it'll overcome the film's shortcomings which here involve an overactive zeal to get shooting. In the bank, in the street, in parking lots, anywhere, with high-powered automatic weapons. Several times during this hour and a half It feels like a war going on.

Courtesy of Vortex Media

The setting is New Orleans, in an area known from its history as the Irish Channel. A small gang shoots up a bank, gets into the vault, loads up with wads of currency and then has extreme trouble getting away. They're in a gun battle with police outside; steal a car knowing the cops can't trace it to them but are hemmed in when roads and bridges out are shut down. Local black crooks and a crime boss won't help these white intruders. An FBI special agent figures out they're ex-military and pretty soon has their leaders identified and their photos on the TV news. Veteran director William Kaufman rachets up the tension nicely but gives us a story too about the two brothers who lead the gang. Mick (Max Martini) is violent, James (Clayne Crawford) is a young father just trying to help. Brotherhood, family bonds, loyalty, personal responsibility. They're all tested in their ordeal. It's a small film that rises above the usual. (VOD/digital) 3 out of 5

THE MIRACLE CLUB: It's billed as a heart-warming film. It tries, sometimes succeeds but is also quite flat much of the time. It shouldn't be so considering the cast: Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, Laura Linney, and a bright newcomer (to me anyway) Agnes O'Casey. They're characters in a small Irish town in 1967; three win a talent contest at the local church for a trip to Lourdes, the French town known for miracles. Linney's character, back from 40 years in the United States, gets to come along too.

Courtesy of Level Films

She had only returned for her mother's funeral and takes her place on the trip. Why she was away turns out to be part of a long standing bit of bitterness. There are others, assembled all too conveniently and argued about on the trip. Blame is insinuated. The youngest in the group, Dolly has a son who doesn't speak and somehow blame for that is brought out too. The actors are good, the direction by Thaddeus O'Sullivan also. The script unreal. I did enjoy the visit to Lourdes, seeing the tourist attraction it has become and its gift shop and hearing the real numbers about miracles there. (Theaters in 18 cities across Canada, like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and including Halifax, Saskatoon and Grand Forks) 2½ out of 5