Film review: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout ” (2018)



Running Time: 147 minutes

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Featuring:  Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett

August Walker: “How many times has Hunt’s government betrayed him, disavowed him, cast him aside? How long before a man like that has had enough?”

Say what you want about Tom Cruise especially as a public persona with his associations to Scientology as well as marriages that have come and gone, but there has rarely been a more popular as well as bigger movie star in all of Hollywood history. Sure there have been box office disappointments but even when his star was seemingly falling in the US it was picking up elsewhere in the world to carry his popularity, enabling him to make not only big budget movies but more modest fare as well, such as last years “American Made” (2017), which was an above average action/drama but also a modest hit with a great cast, including some fantastic production talent. The only real box office dud in recent memory was the musical “Rock of Ages” (2012) where he only had a minor role but showed no fear in his performance, which coincidentally is what he has become known for since “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011) with its huge (mostly) non CGI stunts, with Cruise front and centre in those performances. Now against all odds when at one point this franchise seemed dead after a listless third entry we now have the sixth, arguably its biggest entry with almost everything supersized as well as a push towards the future with not only some familiar faces but new blood injected to keep things fresh, although with the sheer number of set pieces this never seems an issue.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) as the sixth entry arrives twenty two years after the first installment revisited the East as a post cold war adaption of a television series best known for the continuous face swapping that occurred almost every episode to ensure the IMF always came out on top. The first movie had two major set pieces that have been not only parodied endlessly but served as a taster for what was to come. Until this new movie each installment had a different director that was supposed to offer something different for fans but it was not until Brad Bird directed the great “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” that it was clear the type of story, as well as feel that these movies should strive for. They became more cinematic, a lot more tongue in cheek, they took the stories global, introduced new actors to the world and of course the stunts got more practical as well as much bigger. In fact the entire franchise became more like a Chris Nolan movie than a James Bond movie, it is no wonder people would love Nolan to direct the Bond franchise.

Returning writer/director Christopher McQuarrie shows onscreen that he has not only learnt from his previous mission but illustrates how to make a movie that isn’t a comic book movie, differentiating it as much as possible through the use of excellent actors as well as crafted set pieces, including a story that while not completely original does something that few blockbusters do, make the action a part of the narrative in doing so it slims the plot down to a double dip, that is a road movie of sorts as well as a conspiracy thriller set around the all too familiar ‘loose nukes’ storyline seen in many other spy thrillers. The fact that the plot of this movie may seem overly familiar is not necessarily a negative as it serves a purpose cutting through with ease to the audience about what is actually occurring onscreen. Where “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is original is that separate from the action it introduces many new people to the franchise that could return or not, it also, while being based around one character, Ethan Hunt, does let many of its other characters shine in very specific ways as to really make this new movie original in a Summer full of reboots, sequels, prequels and remakes. McQuarrie has been given free reign like no other ‘Mission’ director, in that he after the success of his previous movie, as well as his close relationship with Cruise he has crafted the movie he wanted to produce with the highest stakes going, the future of the franchise is in his hands and to his credit he succeeds far higher than many other writer/directors have in the past with any equivalent franchise – this could be the franchises “Skyfall” (2012). As mentioned McQuarrie has become a fine director and this movie has many nods to previous installments as well as many other movies reflective of the genre that this movie apes in some great ways, using noise, silence as well as music to highlight moments that other directors may rely on tropes to get by.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is set two years after the capture of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the remains of his organization ‘The Syndicate’ have reformed into a terrorist group known as ‘The Apostles. At a safehouse in Belfast, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) receives details of a mission to intercept the sale of three plutonium cores to members of the group. The mission takes him to Berlin where he meets up with Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), but the mission fails when Hunt makes the choice to save Luther’s life and the plutonium is taken by the Apostles. Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), Director of the CIA, instructs Special Activities operative August Walker (Henry Cavill) to shadow Hunt as he attempts to retrieve the plutonium. So the movie moves at a brisk pace from here towards a goal that has a complicated plot which is as stated surrounded by amazing action set pieces.

As with any ‘Mission’ movie the central figure is always Tom Cruise as not only Ethan Hunt but also as one of the uncredited writers and as main producer. These movies have always been Cruise’s baby with him taking centre stage at almost every turn, for the most part succeeding both critically as well as financially even when his personal stock has been low these movies have soared high. Everything about Cruise has already been written, he is dedicated to action movies like no other actor ever, maybe except Steve McQueen, but Cruise does so much more physically than he ever did. Not only that but Cruise is an underrated actor both dramatically as well as comedically what is great about the ‘Mission’ movies is that he gets to exercise those muscles throughout sometimes in the same scene. Lastly Cruise is not afraid to share the screen with anyone which has been a hallmark of his entire career, here he invites the entire cast to do their best work, and within the medium they all deliver some of their best work.

Returning to the franchise are Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin all playing their parts like old pros, they have all made appearances before so know their jobs with all shining in their own individual ways which compliment the main star. New to the fold are great character actor Angela Bassett who is always fantastic to see onscreen especially in high profile projects such as this and the huge success that was “Black Panther” (2018). Also newly arriving is the unofficial co-lead of the movie Henry Cavill, who has been searching for a successful high profile movie after the success of “Man of Steel” (2013), which it appears he has found after two disastrous DCEU movies as well as the underrated “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (2015), it appears playing this part may have stretched him showing that he has a viable career after playing Superman. Cavill is a physically gifted actor who here gets to not only play strong action scenes, but gets to really invent a character playing high drama, comedy as well as being duplicitous throughout his arc in a very good bordering on great action movie, one of the best of the year.

The road movie narrative fits very well with this new movie, it starts in Belfast and doesn’t give up until the climax of the movie, like all great movies of its ilk, it is not so much the end goal that is important or even satisfying, it is the trip it takes to get there, unlike many movies this attempts to not only up the ante from previous movies but seeks to do that from scene to scene. The fact that this movie succeeds as a spectacle speaks highly of not only the director as well as the actors but of the stunt people, the cinematographer and everyone else involved in the production. Unlike many similar movies there is definitely something that will be lost not seeing this on the big screen, it is that much of a unique event, it has to be the best ‘Mission’ movie yet which speaks directly to how great it is, anything that the previous movie missed in terms of quality, story, narrative or action or more than made up for here, not only that it sets a firm direction for the future without offering any kind of bait for a sequel.

This movie does so many things right with not only the stunts but the overall way this sequel fits into the overarching narrative started with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” which hinted at some rival group of terrorists as well as the fate of Ethan’s wife. What is unusual to almost all blockbusters especially the patriarchal themed movies is this one does actually have a very real emotional core that has only increased with each subsequent sequel. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” does what possibly only the middle two ‘Bourne’ sequels did, that is explain why character shifts occur as well as how the last three movies fit in to this universe which is now free to really ramp up to a new story yet leaning on the past in a very substantive way, I cannot wait for more of these movies.

If you want a movie that is entertaining as well as action packed with moments of comedy then this is for you. It is that rare franchise sequel that is worth the price of entry; it begs to be watched multiple times, this movie is a winner on all levels and a great way to end the summer blockbuster season.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is out now only in cinemas.

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