REVIEW: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

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What started as a successful but slightly schizophrenic pet project has evolved into one of my very favorite movie franchises. Aside from the common thread of their high-profile star, the first three “Mission Impossible” installments couldn’t feel more different. It was mainly due to having three very different directors, each with their own unique stamp. While I enjoyed each of them to varying degrees, it was still tough to put a finger on what the series wanted to be.

That started to change with “Ghost Protocol” from director #4 Brad Bird. It put pieces in place and set the table for director #5 Christopher McQuarrie and what would be the best “MI” movie to date. “Rogue Nation” not only felt connected to its predecessor beyond Tom Cruise’s presence, but it was incredibly well made and left audiences with a much clearer vision of what the franchise is shooting for.

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Fans of “Rogue Nation” rejoice. Christopher McQuarrie breaks the revolving director trend and returns for “Fallout”, a movie that ups the ante in terms of breathtaking action yet still tells a thrilling story that well serves its fabulous band of characters.

McQuarrie has been working towards “Fallout”, building its framework for several films now. He did uncredited rewrites for “Ghost Protocol”, co-wrote “Rogue Nation”, and handles the entire script for “Fallout”. This is his baby and he knocks it out of the park. Of course Cruise returns along with mainstays Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg. Also back is Rebecca Ferguson who debuted and stole the show in “Rogue Nation”.

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In a prologue 56-year-old (but far from looking it) Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is informed that three plutonium cores have been stolen by a terrorist group calling themselves The Apostles. They are an offshoot of the Syndicate (see “Rogue Nation”) ran by a mystery man named John Lark. Ethan calls in his IMF cohorts, the neurotic Benji (Pegg) and easy-going Luther (Rhames), to help regain the cores, but the mission goes awry and the plutonium heads to the black market.

Ethan is able to track the plutonium to Paris where a transaction is set to take place near the Grand Palais. Before he can head that way freshly christened CIA Director Sloane (Angela Bassett) orders him to take along Agent Walker (Henry Cavill), a CIA ‘observer’ and Sloane’s own personal “hammer”. Basically he’s sent to make sure the mission succeeds whatever the cost. As Cavill says in his wriest and driest voice “That’s the job.”

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If you follow the series you know the story can’t possible stay in one location. In addition to Paris we make stops in Belfast, London, even Kashmir (played by Norway). Along the way we get a white-knuckled motorcycle chase around the Arc de Triomphe, a foot race across London rooftops (which actually resulted in Cruise breaking his ankle), a mind-blowing helicopter duel through the snow-capped mountains of Kashmir, just to name a few. The action sequences are nothing short of exhilarating, mostly done through traditional stunt work and practical effects. The touches of CGI make a handful of scenes even more breathtaking. And what’s best is McQuarrie shoots them with visual coherence. No indecipherable shaky cams and quick cuts. It’s something to behold.

But “Fallout” is more that credits-to-credits action. McQuarrie threads these sequences together with a classic-style spy story full of twists, double-crosses, intersecting plotlines and of course one big nuclear threat. In the middle of it all is returning “Rogue Nation” baddie Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), an anarchist with a personal axe to grind with the current world order and with Ethan Hunt. His two-headed mantra “The greater the suffering, the greater the peace” is just as much directed at Ethan as to the world system. Adding another kink is the resurfacing of Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), once out of the game but now back in and with her own mysterious agenda.

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McQuarrie moves us through his wonderfully knotty plot at a crackling pace, tossing us enough twists and turns to ensure there is no downtime for measuring if every piece lines up perfectly. But it’s smart enough to keep us locked in and constantly guessing. And Cruise remains the heart of the franchise. His insane physicality and daredevil willingness to risk life and limb for every shot has never been more evident. But it’s the character-centric moments that speak volumes. He’s still a vulnerable hero, even a bit naïve. And more than any other “M:I” installment, “Fallout” centralizes his unshakable moral code as key component of not just this film but the entire series.

“Mission: Impossible” continues to be the rare film franchise that actually gets better with age. “Fallout” makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead it takes the best elements of its predecessors and then cranks the dial past 10. Cruise and company’s ability to consistently up their game has culminated in this action movie masterclass that earns every ounce of acclaim it’s getting. Knowing their history I’m definitely onboard for more. But if the next movie’s mission, should they choose to accept it, is to top “Fallout” it could truly prove to be impossible.

VERDICT – 5 STARS

5-starss

5star

30 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

  1. You have me really pumped to see this . I have really liked the last 2 and wondered after the last one how they could surpass that one . One the best movie franchises ever.

    • As you know I was pretty excited for this but over the last few days I dialed back my expectations a bit. It ended up exceeding them. Do you know when you’ll get to see it?

  2. These pictures have done got old and they do the same thing over and over. They always cuss at them meddling kids for pulling their false face off, and That Tom Cruiser lady can’t act. All she does is show them white teeth and then frown with her serious face.

  3. I have to say this film is easily the best one in the series. This film along with the last two, as you pointed out earlier, have finally given Mission Impossible its identity, and it works on multiple levels. While there were some predictable twists, the rate at which they kept coming had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film.

    • Wasn’t it great? I’m with you – edge of your seat stuff. I’m hoping McQuarrie sticks around because he has something really special here. How was the crowd at your showing? I’m really hoping it does well.

      • Since I went in the morning, there really wasn’t much of a crowd. I have no doubt in my mind that Fallout is going to make money. I’ll have to check out Box Office Mojo in a day or so, but I think it’s definitely going to make back its budget by the time Monday comes around. I’m probably going to go see it again. Tom Cruise is like 57, but to see him do all his own stunts is mind-boggling. I’m hoping he can keep it up for at least two more Mission Impossible films.

      • Planning on seeing again too. Just love this thing. I don’t give many 5 star scores (this is my first this year), but this one deserves it. So I definitely want to see it again before it leaves the big screen.

  4. Honestly cannot see how the next movie in the series can top this one.

    I had a big grin on my face in most of this movie, but none bigger than when Cruise is just BOOKING it through London and McQuarrie’s got the wide shots. Legendary stuff, dare I say.

    • Dude me too! I ate it all up. And Cruise’s stunt work is icing on the tension-filled cake (did that even make sense?). For me it’s more than a gimmick. Subconsciously knowing that him out there adds to the intensity for me.

      And I don’t think I talked enough about how good this cast is.

  5. Great review! Glad you liked it! To me, while it doesn’t beat out the original film or Ghost Protocol, Fallout is definitely a great and solid action flick. Loved it.

    • Thanks man. For me I think it just beats out Rogue Nation as my favorite. I really liked the more somber tone yet without losing its sense of humor. And the cast is so good. What did you think of Cavill. I was a little unsure about his performance at first, but as the story unfolded it made more sense to me.

  6. Great review Keith! Funny you should mention the overused quick-cut/shaky-cam method of action filmmaking, I was watching J.J. Abrams’ ‘M:I III’ and whilst it’s certainly enjoyable that’s always my main gripe when rewatching it. It was cooland inventive when Bourne did it but it’s really become nauseous and lazy.

    Fallout was hugely entertaining, incredible action and fantastic performances and an intelligent plot that kept me engaged and intrigued.

    What I especially appreciate is that although we have a returning director, McQuarrie brings a slightly different style and feel to the film in comparison with Rogue Nation that sort of respects the original mission (ahem) statement for the franchise of having a new director come in with each new instalment and make it their own.

    • Thanks so much. That jerky cam stuff drives me bonkers especially on a large screen. I always think back to the last two “Taken” films and how choppy their action sequences are. I always wondered if it was a way to compensate for Liam Neeson (who I love) not being the prototypical athletic action hero.

      Fallout definitely has a slightly different style. I felt it was a touch darker than the last film while still hanging onto its fun sense of humor. It’s a delicate balance and McQuarrie handles it REALLY well.

  7. Haven’t seen this yet but I’m eager to now. They keep hitting this one out of the ballpark. A series that has got stronger and is now making its best entries in the franchise.

    • Oh man, this is a must watch on the big screen. Definitely see it before it leaves the theater. I’m still amazed at how they up the ante without dumbing down their movies. LOVE IT.

  8. Loving the review. Spot on! I think Fallout is the best MI movie so far. I’m not the biggest fan of Tom Cruise on a personal level but what he does as an actor is incredible!

    • I think I’m with you. I love the franchise especially Rogue Nation (thank you Rebecca Fergusson), but I do think this tops them all. Did you happen to see it in IMAX. I hoping to before it leaves my area.

  9. I’m amazed at how they manage to consistently bring the quality with the MI movies… how have they not jumped the shark yet? It must be the same magic Tom Cruise uses to keep himself from aging.

    • It’s pretty amazing. And not only bring the quality, but make the movies steadily better. I’m really impressed and can’t wait to finally see it again.

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