“Mission: Impossible - Fallout” Movie Review


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     The “Mission: Impossible” film franchise, having launched in 1996, has now spanned over two decades and six films, which in most cases means some sort of reinvention in order to keep the story fresh and ultimately consumable by today’s audiences.  Somehow, the “M:I” films have maintained a similar tone and story structure, while also keeping the core actors intact from film to film, and simply introducing a different foil in the form of a villain, or at least someone whose loyalties to one side or the other remains in question throughout.  With the formula remaining consistent, the filmmakers behind the “M:I” franchise have taken a page out of the uber successful “Fast and Furious” film franchise by upping the ante each time out with death defying stunt work and action sequences that seem to get even more heart stopping and outrageous from film to film.  

     Returning to his writing and directing duties, of which he proved incredibility skilled the last time out with “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation”, is Christopher McQuarrie with “Mission: Impossible - Fallout”, an all out action fan’s dream of a film whose two and half hour running time seems to go by as fast as a two minute roller coaster ride.  To say the least, what McQuarrie and his talented actors and crew have accomplished here is something often not seen when a franchise reaches its sixth film and hasn’t rebooted with new lead characters.  “Fallout” rocks you to the core with a series of breathtaking set pieces that continue the franchise’s ability to deliver the kind of creative and jaw dropping excitement which clearly outpaces the last installment and sets the bar high enough that one can’t imagine how they’ll top themselves in the next one.  Put simply, this is first class work by all involved.

     Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt, and his IMF team, yet again, has their hands full with a terrorist organization hell bent on setting off a nuclear bomb and creating, as they say throughout, the kind of suffering necessary to essentially reset human kind and change the world permanently with one swift blow.  During the film’s first act, as we see Hunt and his team, including Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), attempt to recover a suitcase full of plutonium that has fallen into the wrong hands, I began to think about how often filmmakers use nuclear weapons and the necessary ingredients needed to construct them as the McGuffin which sends our globetrotting heroes from location to location in an effort to keep these dangerous materials from falling into the wrong hands.  The filmmakers certainly could’ve gone that direction, but fortunately, the twists, turns, and double-crosses this series is famous for go well beyond the standard “terrorists in possession of nukes” formula.

     Given the past exploits of the IMF, as well as the uncertainty of their most recent operation, the CIA inserts an agent named August Walker (Henry Cavill) on Hunt’s team, as they embark on a mission to contact a broker who can lead them to the plutonium.  Cavill provides a tremendous presence, injecting a notable brute force in the manner his character prefers to handle situations which meshes well with Cruise’s Hunt and proves to be a worthy partner when muscle is needed to dispatch the henchmen they inevitable come into contact with as they move closer to their target.  Cavill's work far exceeds his turn as Superman in “Man of Steel” and “Justice League”, as well as his role as a CIA operative in 2015’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, and is clearly the best performance of his young career. We also welcome the return of MI6 Agent Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who runs an operation parallel to Hunt’s, but whose interests might differ.  Hunt’s “Rogue Nation” nemesis, Soloman Lane (Sean Harris), also makes a haunting return.  McQuarrie’s script expertly puts these characters in positions where their intentions remain in question as the third act leads them into a multitude of scenarios you won’t see coming, leading to an appreciation for the craft on display here.

     Cruise, who at 56 years old still remains an astonishing physical presence, pushes his character to the physical extreme, showcasing the ability to not only complete dangerous stunt work, but also the fitness to sprint long distances, scale buildings and rock walls, and jump from roof top to roof top in a manner which shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.  His work in this film will amaze you, and will certainly be enough to adequately remove the thought of his most recent misfire, “The Mummy”, from your mind and replace it with his portrayal of the character he was clearly born to play.  By the time the next installment arrives, Cruise himself may be pushing 60, but I wouldn’t bet on any sort of evolution in the character where he slows down and uses brains instead of braun.  It’s just not how Cruise and his character are wired.

     As for the “M:I” franchise, “Fallout” is as satisfying an entry as we’ve seen in any long running film series, and stands as one of the best films of 2018 thus far.  It’s entirely unlikely we will see another film this year that will pack this kind of adrenaline fueled punch, while also maintaining the smarts and intelligence we often note when viewing the other films in the series.   “Fallout” is the sort of film that will leave you shaken as you walk out of the theater attempting to process and piece together everything you’ve just witnessed and experienced.  Rather than allowing the film to delve into the category of disposable and forgettable entertainment, McQuarrie and Cruise ensure “Fallout” will imprint itself within your psyche and stay awhile.  GRADE: A