Film Review: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” features some of the series’ and Tom Cruise’s best moments, and proves that neither are willing to throw in the towel just yet.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves some of the best death-defying scenes to grace the silver screen in recent memory. From fighting at the edge of a Norwegian cliff, to HALO-jumping at 25,000 feet, “Fallout” takes the “Mission: Impossible” franchise to staggering new heights — literally. After five movies, one would think that previous feats, like scaling the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, couldn’t be topped. But “Fallout” proves, to audiences’ delight, that these expectations couldn’t be more wrong. The stunts and stakes are higher than ever before, as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, and his team fight old and new enemies against an impending nuclear disaster.

In signature Tom Cruise-style, the daredevil himself performed his own scene-stealing stunts. Both he and a cameraman jumped out of a plane over a hundred times to capture the aforementioned HALO jump. But not only is a scene like this commendable in its risk for the sake of art, but it is astonishingly breathtaking. Imagine — or, go see — Tom Cruise hurdle towards the earth at 200 mph, engulfed by howling winds and a screensaver-worthy sunset. And this moment is just one of many other expertly shot and choreographed scenes. Later on, Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt speeds through Parisian streets on motorcycle, dangles from a helicopter over mountains, and does what he does best: runs.

And all while director Christopher McQuarrie thankfully stays away from utilizing shaky-cam techniques and coloring the movie in dreary cement grays. Even if you take away the action altogether, what remains is an optical splendor of mountaintops and city life. McQuarrie’s sleek direction in the previous “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” ushered in a well-deserved 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and now it’s working even better for “Fallout.” For the series’ sixth installment, he manages to keep its frenzied, breakneck energy under just enough control. Still, as audiences stumble out of the theater, it’s likely their auditory and visual senses will be overloaded from the borderline numbing action. I even thought the movie was about to conclude two-thirds in because of the intensity of what I thought was its climax, yet the plot continued to show that it still had much, much in store.

But this feast for the eyes may just be all there is to it. Anyone looking for a method behind the heart-pounding madness will be disappointed by the movie’s surface-level, predictable “ragtag group versus a guy who wants to bring order to the world by basically destroying it” central conflict. All the sucker-punches and jumping off of buildings are purely smoke and mirrors covering its simple story. “Fallout” also incorporates past characters from “Rogue Nation” and “Mission: Impossible: III,” and the results are varied. For those who saw the earlier movies, it’s nice to get some resolution and continuation of a past that even Ethan Hunt can’t run away from. But for others less acquainted with the M:I movies, certain aspects may seem confusing, weak, or unnecessary. Who are these characters? How do they know each other? Despite my familiarity with the series, it was hard to invest in its underdeveloped relationships and characters. The movie would’ve emotionally benefitted from a few more edits to this retrospective narrative, and it would have also balanced out the relentless action.

No one seems to care, though; neither critics nor moviegoers, who sprung this movie into its number-one spot at the box office during its opening weekend. Like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” it shows that elaborate CGI and plots aren’t needed to make a blockbuster hit. All you need is a charismatic cast and a dedicated crew in order to work some wonders. That’s what’s made the “Mission: Impossible” movie series a stronghold in the Hollywood industry for over 20 years, and will probably keep it there for years to come.

“MI6… Why?” asks Tom Cruise — I mean, Ethan Hunt — during an intimate conversation at one point in the movie. It is a reference to the Secret Intelligence Service, but is also a play on words. It seems like a winking challenge to those skeptical of “yet another sequel,” to which this movie simply answers, “Why the hell not?”

Don’t worry, this review won’t self-destruct in five seconds.

Grade: B+
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill
Release Date: July 27, 2018

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