Mission: Impossible – Fallout
by George Wolf
Tom Cruise’s next mission – and he’ll most likely accept it – is to try and outdo the stunts he pulls in this latest Mission: Impossible entry. Good luck with that, because Fallout delivers the GD mail.
It’s an action film that hits on nearly every cylinder, thrilling enough to elevate the value of the other five films in the franchise.
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (a frequent Cruise collaborator) returns from 2015’s MI: Rogue Nation, leaning on that solid foundation while he ups every ante, delivering not only his most impressive work as a director, but his most complete screenplay since The Usual Suspects.
Cruise’s Ethan Hunt draws the ire of his IMF boss (Alec Baldwin) and his boss’s boss (Angela Bassett) by choosing the lives of his team (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg) over a stash of rogue plutonium. To keep that payload from the highest bidder, they have no choice but to accept help from agent August Walker (Henry Cavill and the ‘stache that ate DC), a “kill now-ask questions later” bruiser.
It can’t go unnoticed that Fallout marks the third blockbuster this year to feature a villain whose goals are more societal than financial.
Coincidence? Clearly no, but McQuarrie’s script keeps the social commentary smart, subtle and out of the way.
Familiar allies (Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa), old foes (Sean Harris as Solomon Lane) and new femme fatale “White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby) dot the landscape of double and triple crosses, with McQuarrie being careful not to overplay the genre elements.
Sly, self-aware references ground the film when it’s in danger of reveling in any Bond-ish excess, with plenty of well-placed surprises that, even when they’re not that surprising, help ease the bloat of a 2 and 1/2 hour running time.
But let’s not kid ourselves, that’s all just spy game gravy.
These stunts – from rooftop to mountaintop, crowded streets to midair and beyond – are showstoppers, with Cruise so electric a t-shirt proclaiming “movie star” would not be out of place under Hunt’s endless supply of tight black jackets.
Cruise’s insistence on doing these stunts himself got him a broken ankle, but there is plenty of gain for his pain. You cannot deny the added authenticity his stuntwork brings to these set pieces, with McQuarrie’s nimble camerawork and some luscious landscapes sealing the deal.
Say what you what about the summer movie season so far, Fallout is here to make you remember how breathlessly fun it can be.