Mission: Impossible - Fallout is directed, produced, and written by Christopher McQuarrie and stars Tom Cruise in his 6th appearance as Ethan Hunt. Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin all return to reprise their respective roles from earlier in the franchise. Newcomers to the cast include Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Veronica Kirby, and Wes Bentley. This is the second time that Christopher McQuarrie has directed a Mission: Impossible film (his first being Rogue Nation), making him the first director to do so.
It's not every day that you hear a film be considered one of the best of all time in its respective genre, but that's the word going around about Mission: Impossible - Fallout. By all means, Fallout didn't need to try too hard to be the best summer blockbuster of 2018, boasting an asset that no other summer blockbuster this year can boast about: the charismatic, age-defying Tom Cruise. Call the man an egotistical S.O.B. if you want, but give respect where respect is due: the man is arguably the best in the business today when it comes to delivering convincing, adrenaline-pumping action, due in large part to Cruise not only performing all of his own stunts, but going out of his way time and time again to do stunts that would be the stuff of people's nightmares. Just when you've seen Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation and think "there's no way Cruise can top this!", Cruise goes out of his way to prove you incorrect, and continue to help the Mission: Impossible franchise live up to its "impossible" part.
The sixth entry of the Mission: Impossible series had, on paper, reason to generate skepticism. Christoper McQuarrie returning as director broke the franchise's long-running tradition of having a new director for each new installment. Not that there was a rationale to believe that McQuarrie would suffer from sequelitis, but with the Mission: Impossible franchise getting better with each new installment, why would the series have any reason to break its director tradition? Of course, as the saying goes: if you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. Deep in his mind somewhere, Tom Cruise probably believed that the Mission: Impossible franchise could be elevated to "all-time great action franchise" and the risk taken to get the franchise to that point was to bring McQuarrie back as director and not go after someone like John McTiernan.
I should not forget to mention that McQuarrie returned as the sole screenwriter as well. The story he puts together for Fallout takes place two years after Rogue Nation. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) has been captured, but the remains of The Syndicate now pose as a terrorist group called The Apostles. Ethan Hunt is given instructions to retrieve three plutonium cores which are to be given to members of the Apostles, who will then sell the cores to a mysterious man going by the name John Lark. The mission fails, and Ethan and his team now find themselves facing a global nuclear threat, in which the Apostles intend to use nuclear weapons to extinguish one third of the world's population and usher in a new era of peace. Ethan, Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames) set out to find the plutonium and prevent the Apostles from completing their plan, being accompanied on their mission by CIA operative August Walker (Henry Cavill), who plans on recovering the plutonium fr the CIA. The team must outrun the forces of a broker known as The White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who intends on extracting Solomon Lane in exchange for securing the plutonium. Meanwhile, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who joined Ethan's team in Rogue Nation, has her sights set on finding and killing Lane, doing so in order to redeem herself with MI6.
I have yet to officially say what my verdict is on Fallout: It's pretty awesome, but I don't think I can rank it above Ghost Protocol. The movie once again utilizes the team-based approach that Ghost Protocol introduced to the franchise, and it brings back Solomon Lane as the primary villain, whom I thought was the weakest part of Rogue Nation. Regardless, nothing should take away from where the film succeeds with its action, the final sequence involving a helicopter chase being one of the best action scenes that I've seen from a new release since the catacombs scene from John Wick: Chapter 2.
- Tom Cruise's commitment towards performing death-defying stunts and wanting to make the action look as convincing as possible does wonders for McQuarrie in this film and for the Mission: Impossible franchise as a whole, with Fallout serving up another helping of attention-grabbing set pieces that other summer blockbusters could only dream of. The seamless editing, lavish cinematography, and splendid fight choreography are everything you could hope for from an action film, and help to make the movie not feel anywhere near as long as its 147 minute run time implies.
And like before, the movie knows how to properly inject humor into the action scenes, with Simon Pegg, effortlessly funny as always, continuing to make Benji a comedic sidekick without ever turning him into an annoying, generic comedic sidekick. Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, and Rebecca Ferguson are all great too in their respective roles, each getting at least one memorable moment so as to not just blend into the background and be there because the movie insists that they be there.
- Fallout recycles story details from earlier Mission: Impossible films, so the plot isn't all that fresh. Like in Ghost Protocol, we have someone attempting to launch nuclear weapons, and like the first Mission: Impossible, the story doesn't kick into high gear until a mission goes wrong for Ethan and his team. The fact that Solomon Lane is again a crucial part of the story had me, at times, feelings like this was Rogue Nation Part 2 and not a Mission: Impossible film that was able to stand completely on its own, one that doesn't require viewing all of the previous Mission: Impossible films in order to fully understand what's happening. In other words, Fallout is the first Mission: Impossible film to feel like a direct sequel to a previous one, making it devoid of that independence factor that was charming of each Mission: Impossible film. The shortcomings of the story is what mostly kept me from considering Fallout that action masterpiece that it's made out to be. Maybe another viewing or two will change my mind.
Thinking it all the way through, I would put Fallout as the second best in the franchise just slightly below Ghost Protocol. I know I'm probably in the minority on that, but the plot borrowing bits from earlier Mission: Impossible films kept me from leaving the theater feeling like I just watched the best action film of the 21st century (a title I would probably give to Mad Max: Fury Road) But what I will say is that Fallout will easily win the title for best action film of 2018, as Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie combine forces once again to deliver more insane thrills and ensure that the Mission: Impossible franchise is like a fine wine, getting better and better with age. As long as Tom Cruise can keep doing what he's doing, why should anyone want this franchise to end? A lot of crappy summer blockbusters come out basically every year, but as long as Mission: Impossible keeps up its hot streak, it'll be that summer action jewel we can always look forward to.
Recommend? Heck yes. Be sure you've seen Rogue Nation beforehand, though.
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