What makes Mission: Impossible – Fallout the best of the series? It incorporates all of the best elements of the five films to make one of the most exhilarating, explosive and exciting action extravaganzas ever put on the big screen.
Crazy motorcycle action from Mission: Impossible II? Check. A personal conflict and a looming deadline like Mission: Impossible III? Yep. How about an insane action sequence that will have you clutching your seat for dear life like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol? Yeah, Fallout’s got that and more.
After Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, it seemed like some of the luster was finally wearing off of the franchise. Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter and Fast and the Furious there hasn’t been a lot of recent franchises that have cranked out five or more strong installments.
Star Tom Cruise seemed a noticeable step slower, the technology wasn’t as cutting edge and the action scenes weren’t as impressive as the latest MCU spectacle. Fallout is a decidedly different experience suggesting the theory the series was on fumes was as fake as those disposable masks.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF pals Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) botch a mission putting the world at high risk. An unknown anarchist plans to detonate three nuclear devices and the team has hours to stop him. To further complicate things, CIA head Erica Sloan dispatches her top agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) to tag along. And the team’s MI6 ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is also in the mix carrying out her own agenda. Ferguson remains a standout in the male-dominated MI franchise and it’s appreciated that Ilsa’s plans don’t always line up smoothly with Ethan and company.
I continue to find it weird how the series never addresses absent IMF agents in subsequent films. Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt isn’t mentioned despite appearing in the last two films. He must have fallen into that same abyss as Paula Patton, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and John Polson’s agents. At least Michelle Monaghan is back as Ethan’s wife, Julia.
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Christopher McQuarrie is the first director in the franchise to return for a sequel. That gives him an unexpected benefit of not having to establish his style within the framework of the franchise. And as the screenwriter of both films, McQuarrie was also able to make Fallout a direct sequel to Rogue Nation. In a lot of ways Fallout makes Rogue Nation a better film as a result thanks to various callbacks and returning characters like Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, Prometheus).
McQuarrie seems more comfortable with every aspect of the franchise now. It’s as if every rattled nerve and uncertainty is gone and replaced by a far more confident director. The action scenes are with few exceptions the best in the series, but there’s plenty of emotional beats that keep the investment level in the characters high.
Ilsa and Ethan still have that obvious sexual tension, Walker is deeper than the team heavy and Luther is carrying emotional baggage from the previous failed mission. The best Mission Impossible films are more than the Ethan Hunt show and Fallout gives all the principal characters, including Alec Baldwin’s IMF head, pivotal contributions and time to shine.
With the exception of Justice League it’s frustrating that every other film can tap into Cavill’s natural charisma and screen presence better than the DC Extended Universe. Cavill exudes big screen superstar and I don’t blame him for not shaving the mustache for JL reshoots. Vanessa Kirby has some fun scenes as The White Widow, but her character is interesting enough to warrant a larger role. Maybe in the next installment?
We expect Ethan to have a certain level of superhero to him, but Fallout finds him more vulnerable, dealing with moments of indecisiveness and showing signs of weariness. It helps to make Ethan a stronger character and Cruise is game to show new layers to his now signature role.
Whatever your opinion of the man off camera it’s impossible not to respect Cruise for doing stunts at 56 that some stars half his age wouldn’t do. Can you imagine what kind of crazy stunts he’d be pulling off if he was 36?
Now let’s talk about the stunts. No other film in the series so consistently hits the viewer with one impressive action sequence after the next. Each of the previous films had one action set piece that really stood out. With Fallout, the only thing that’s impossible is deciding on the best action scene. Is it the motorcycle chase, the James Bond homage in the VIP room, the brawl in the bathroom or that you won’t believe it even after you watch it helicopter scene.
Fallout contains an embarrassment of action scene riches that it could lose some and still be better than any traditionally shot film. The beauty of Cruise being willing to do his own stunts is McQuarrie doesn’t have to do camera tricks to hide a stuntman and the action can be shot at a realistic distance. All the better to make you white knuckle your theater seat.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout reinvigorates the franchise and the non-superhero action genre as a whole. Make sure to see this one on the theater with the best audio and widest screen possible.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures