MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT stuns us and wildly entertains with its non-stop action twisty plot.
By Matt Cummings
It’s clear that Actor Tom Cruise isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Now 56, Cruise continues to demonstrate that he’s more than willing to continue holding the mantle of Best Action Star, fractured ankles aside. His new movie MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT celebrates both that standing and reminds us of the awesome power which the Summer movie used to command. It’s a winner from start to finish, a whirlwind of explosions, high stunts, and smart writing that could see a couple of spin-offs if they’re not careful.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force have dealt The Syndicate a crushing blow in recent years, wrapping up assets around the world since the capture of boss Soloman Lane (Sean Harris). Unfortunately, a deal to secure three plutonium cores goes awry, leaving their location in the wind. Saddled with the CIA “observer” Walker (Henry Cavill), Hunt attempts to re-secure the plutonium via the mysterious broker White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), but soon comes face to face with his old ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She is hunting the whereabouts of Lane, who has been shepherded from country to country to answer for his crimes. But soon, Hunt is forced to realize that he might need Lane if he is to secure the cores. What he doesn’t know is that Lane is again one step ahead of him, having both inserted a Syndicate agent within the US government and pinning several crimes on Hunt. Forced to once again go rogue, Hunt, Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Raymes) must locate the cores before they’re detonated, while staying one step ahead of the CIA, the IMF, and Lane’s men.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE has now solidified itself as the best spy action franchise (sorry, James Bond) for several reasons. The return of Director Christopher McQuarrie would by itself be a reason to watch FALLOUT, as he struts his amazing technical prowess, gifting us with some of the best action sequences of the year. FALLOUT clearly is set on the stilts of high action, moving from one bike chase to a shootout to a bathroom beatdown that must be seen to be enjoyed. FALLOUT is also a very good thriller, complete with deceits, blind alleys, and the required use of masks. We get references to older films in the franchise, as the return of one specific character is both fun but also bittersweet. Some of the team pay the ultimate price here, but you’ll have to see it played out to determine whether you’re ok with the direction Team Cruise seems to be going.
FALLOUT isn’t really concerned with being as smart and gorgeous as ROGUE NATION (that one is perhaps my favorite); but FALLOUT doesn’t need the previous films to be great. It’s much more of a visceral action experience, cobbled together with that deception that’s made the series so entertaining. You need story when the action stops, and Writer McQuarrie does just enough to fill in the blanks. Hunley (Alec Baldwin) enjoys a bit more play here, even going so far as to declare one of those “I can see why you love this job so much” lines. Faust is hunting Lane because (for some reason) MI6 won’t let her back in unless she delivers the terrorist. I wish there had been slightly more plot development for her, as she was the breath of fresh air that in many ways pressed ROGUE NATION to my top film of 2015. Here, she moves in perfect sync with Cruise, once again enjoying great chemistry and looking quite dashing as she roughs up the competition with those signature climbing moves. She’s a real badass here and definitely deserves her own spinoff. Imagine an MI6 series with Cruise, Pegg, and Raynes delivering the occasional cameo. Speaking of beauty in need of a spinoff, Vanessa Kirby’s White Widow surprised everyone: she’s gorgeous to look at, but her role as broker to the spies pays off immediately as she winds her way through the IMF’s mission. Read this, Paramount: Make a White Widow movie with Faust and you’re guaranteed a $100 opening. I’ll take my cut now.
But no M:I movie would be complete without the insanity of Cruise’s high-flying stunts.
He clearly doesn’t care how difficult – or dangerous – it appears; he’ll try it as many times as needed (see his fractured ankle that delayed filming for a few months). His dedication is without equal, making him the top action film star for a reason. The brutality of FALLOUT’s action pieces – which include him falling from a helicopter, Halo skydiving, and climbing a mountain ridge – were really shot without the use of stunt doubles. Of course, no studio is going to allow this without assurances, but Cruise seems unfazed; he’s clearly enjoying himself running and riding through Paris. He’s also given a chance to wrap up an ongoing story that ends in FALLOUT. I won’t share more details, but I do think it’s handled well enough, paving the way for something that will probably work better as this franchise speeds on. There’s continually a sense that McQuarrie’s 147-minute behemoth has a lot more gas in its tank, knowing the exact time to power up the action to deliver “oh!s” and “wow!s” from the audience.
If you’re still one of those people who have trouble equating Cruise’s thoroughly entertaining films (I love the underrated OBLIVION and AMERICAN MADE) with past behaviors, I hope you will finally drop it. Sure, the guy’s a weirdo in real life, his continued membership in Scientology bordering on war crimes, but you can’t argue that he owns his work like few do. His willingness to risk life and limb is equaled in FALLOUT with some of the most emotional scenes of the series, as he’s forced to realize that his good intentions to protect family and friends might result in losing everything. That’s no mere hyperbole, as McQuarrie gives Hunt plenty to do and think about, while Lane moves all the chess pieces towards a final deadly encounter. His relationship with Walker, a physical brute as played out in the trailers, is Hunt’s most impressive adversary of the franchise. If you’re going to doubt someone, you might consider whether Cavill can ever make a movie that audiences will love. He looks great but delivering lines has never been his thing. It was the only real doubt raised as audiences reveled in the lobby about McQuarrie’s madness reborn.
THE BOTTOM LINE
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT is a wildly-entertaining movie and perfectly placed summer popcorn flick. Cruise more than delivers some of the best action set pieces of the year, propelling the film through the various plot twists that have made this franchise a go-to. There’s even the possibility of two spinoffs that I’m sure Team Cruise might not have considered, but it’s certainly in play now. But until then, enjoy the best true summer film of 2018 (remember, INFINITY WAR came out in April), as Cruise Halo skydives, races, and punches the living daylight out of things. This franchise is moving in high gear now, a gold standard that James Bond films will be hard pressed to match. Celebrate that and leave any doubts about Cruise’s lifestyle at home. You’ll love the results.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT is rated PG-13 and has runtime of 147 minutes.