Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Ethan Hunt (Cruise, American Made) and the rest of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) get the blame for losing a target by putting the well-being of their own force over that of millions, perhaps billions, of innocent people around the world.  Their latest mission has them losing track of three spherical plutonium cores, that has been stolen and offered on the black market to, among others, an anarchist terrorist organization called the Apostles with a mysterious leader named John Lark, who are hell-bent on using them to shake up the world order in a permanent way.  The team continues to get a chance to get hold of the nuclear material by traveling to France, though on this mission, they have a new partner in CIA agent August Walker (Cavill, Justice League),  to find the major black-market broker named the White Widow (Kirby, Me Before You), an associate of the Apostles. But complete his mission for the IMF, Ethan, going undercover as Lark, must perform a dangerous mission for the White Widow, one involving vengeful nemesis Solomon Lane (Harris, the villain from Rogue Nation), and one that has him seemingly at odds with his new friend, ex-MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Ferguson, Life), and also complicates his own sense of right and wrong, forcing him to come to terms on what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to deliver a greater good.

Frequent Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, who brought a solid mix of classic Hollywood thriller elements with breathtaking modern-day action techniques in the fifth entry in the Mission: Impossible series, Rogue Nation, returns to one-up himself with Fallout, which will likely go down as one of the most viscerally stunning action films of 2018.  McQuarrie, who also is the sole credited screenwriter, substantially reduces some of the sillier elements of his prior effort, while also going a long way to making his action sequences much more realistic in their mix of practical stunts and seamless visual effects enhancements.  It’s a more assured work this time out.

While I still have a soft spot for the more emotionally engaging Mission: Impossible III as my favorite in the series, Fallout ranks a not-too-distant second for being a highly efficient and dazzling action-thriller that delivers all of the goods you expect, and then some.  The plot is engaging, is sometimes confusing, with plenty of twists, surprises and reveals to justify the talking-head segments that come in between the lengthy action sequences.  Loyalties seem layered and could shift in seconds, and the hardest part for these agents is not only in knowing who to trust, but if they are doing overall good or evil in their current mission altogether.  Though we live in a politically charged environment, Fallout seems mostly free of underlying commentary about the current world situation, only glancing at it through the act of a terrorist organization wanting to take out hallowed religious sites in order to shift the balance of the world that clings to old, traditional ways.

The new characters and their respective actors add good chemistry to the bunch, as Angela Bassett’s (Black Panther) no-nonsense CIA director merits watching, especially in dealing with her subordinate muscle in mustachioed Henry Cavill, who steals a number of scenes with a wry twinkle in an eye within a stoic face.  But the mainstays still make it worth coming back to, with Tom Cruise continuing to emote in ways that seemingly only he can, causing us to take it all very seriously, even the most absurd and over the top things seem possible for Mission: Impossible, partially due to the actor continuing to perform his own stunts whenever and wherever he can without actually killing himself.  While not everyone will publicly admit to being a Tom Cruise fan, when you watch him in an action film, it’s hard not to come away with a good deal of admiration for what he’s willing to do to entertain us, as he runs, jumps, runs again, takes on piloting a helicopter, then relentlessly runs, runs, runs — the man never phones it in.

The only downside to McQuarrie’s film lies in some of the twists and double-crosses being a bit easy to guess for anyone who is moderately seasoned in the way these sorts of movies tend to go, but it’s a minor detraction from a piece of entertainment that is hitting on all cylinders in every other regard.  Even the film’s 2.5-hour length, the longest thus far in the franchise, isn’t as cumbersome as most blockbusters that stretch far beyond what’s necessary, given that there are no prolonged lulls along the way. Bolstered by Lorne Balfe’s (Pacific Rim: Uprising) truly magnificent score, Rob Hardy’s (Annihilation) jaw-dropping cinematography amid a series of picturesque locales like London, Paris, and India’s mountainous Kashmir region, and some of the slickest editing in the business from Eddie Hamilton, Fallout emerges as a treat for the eyes and ears above and beyond just the fine cast and nifty plotting.  As with the other films in this series, Tom Cruise truly gives his all, showing appropriate fear, determination and resolve on his face at all times, far more emotive than the cool and collected counterpart in the James Bond flicks.  The only mission more impossible might be for McQuarrie to outdo himself in a third go-round as director in the franchise, should he choose to accept it.

Qwipster’s rating: A

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language
Running Time: 147 min.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley
Small role: Wolf Blitzer
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie



2 Responses

  1. Jon-Luc says:

    Good review, I mostly agree. I have a soft spot for Rogue Nation, but this one and III are really close in my mind. Tom Cruise is still the best action star around, even though he’s pushing senior citizen status at this point. Way more relevant and entertaining than most of the other action stars of his time.

    This movie was very good. For some reason, the silliness and over the top action scenes got to me a bit at times, and the plot bordered on being too convoluted for it’s own good. But I guess I hadn’t watched a Mission Impossible movie for a while and maybe had forgotten that this was the norm for the series. Either way, in terms of providing interesting, if a bit confusing, story lines with gripping action and likable characters, Mission Impossible has perhaps overtaken James Bond as my favorite spy series as of late.

    • Vincent Leo says:

      M:I is on a good roll, I agree. I noticed the difference this time out. Despite both having larger-than-life action set pieces, when Ethan Hunt is doing something dangerous, Cruise shows it on his face. James Bond seems mostly indifferent to all of the explosions going on around him, and often quips during or afterward, which makes it feel less intense. I love both series, but I prefer action heroes who are at least aware of how difficult and frightening what they are doing truly is, a la Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.