Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Review

The latest entry in the Mission: Impossible series gives the franchise some of the best action that the motion picture industry has ever seen. It also gave audiences some of the most emotional and powerful character moments of the entire 22 year old franchise. Mission: Impossible - Fallout seamlessly manages to pay tribute to every chapter in the franchise, while still staying fresh. 

There will be slight spoilers throughout this review.

Let's start talking about Tom Cruise. It doesn't matter what you think of his personal life, or his beliefs. There is no denying: He is this generations greatest movie star, and maybe the last "movie star" in the traditional sense. He is in his mid-fifties and still does jaw dropping stunts in an era where it is very hard to impress with stunts anymore. Everything needs to bigger, better and have higher stakes. Director Christopher McQuarrie, who is the first M:I director to ever return to the franchise, out did himself this time.

Fallout is a direct sequel to Rogue Nation. There has always been a little bit of connective tissue throughout the series, but for the most part, you can just watch a random entry and be completely fine. Fallout relies on your knowledge of Rogue Nation to be a deeper and more emotionally nuanced chapter. It helps if you know the franchise as a whole too, because this is one of the most personal journeys that Ethan Hunt has been on.

“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” - Ann Richards

Cruise's stunts are impressive. They are the selling point of the movie. But let's not forget, that when the you see the shot of Cruise jumping out of the plane, it is because a camera operator jumped out of the same plane first, just backwards. Cruise may be the star, but crews make it happen. So be appreciative of both.

The story unfolded pretty seamlessly. The "big twist" I thought they were trying to sell I saw coming a mile away, but then the story revealed that the IMF was expecting it too. McQuarrie's script lets the audience know what he wants us to know, and nothing more. That is why they set up one sequence the way they did. The best part about all of the relentless action is that it enhanced the story. The story didn't stop dead for a pointless action scene to take place, it all blended together with perfection.

The supporting cast were all people we were familiar with too, which is a change. Even the IMF director - played by Alec Baldwin, returned! Usually Cruise gets a new team every time, with a couple of returning faces. Henry Cavill was the only new person, and since he technically isn't part of the IMF, it doesn't count. Cavill was great though. He showed his range as an actor here, and DC better lock him down to do more Superman soon, because if they don't, others might swoop in (like the Bond franchise) and steal him away. Oh and this is the role where the infamous mustache came from that they had to digitally remove in Justice League.

One person who didn't return is Jeremy Renner's William Brandt. He couldn't due to obligations with filming Avengers 4 for Marvel. I wish there was some sort of throwaway line or something that explained why Brandt wasn't with them. I do enjoy Renner's character and I hope he can return in a future installment. It feels like Simon Pegg's Benji did a lot of the "field" stuff that Brandt would have done if he was there. Casual fans won't even notice he is gone, or care to be frank. But I am of the mind that Renner's involvement would have made the film even better. That is no one's fault though, so it is hardly fair to hold it against the film.

Another thing worth mentioning though, is that Ving Rhames - who is the only other actor to be in every Mission: Impossible movie besides Cruise - got some much needed character depth. Luther Stickell is loyal to Hunt without fail. Hunt trusts him too, and that shows when Hunt made the decision to save Luther instead of completing the mission at the beginning. Later, when Luther is telling Ilsa about Hunt's wife, Rhames did some wonderful acting, and provided a window into who Luther is and why he cares about Hunt and Julia (Michelle Monaghan) so much.

I very much enjoyed the introducing of Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa Foust in Rogue Nation, and thought her inclusion here was very organic and natural. As a direct sequel, Fallout deals with the - um - fallout of the events of Rogue Nation. Naturally, Foust would be a part of it. She had some great fight scenes, and her reaction to Hunt's reintroduction into her life, as well as finding out about his past was quite touching. I don't know how much longer this franchise will continue, but I hope that Ferguson is a permanent staple in the future.

There is a path the franchise can take where Angela Bassett has a future too. I hope that is what happens in the future. The talent there is high, and she could play off of Cruise well.

The action in the movie barely gives you time to breathe before it is amped up again. Outside of that, they managed to tell a huge love story that has been lingering for 3 films now, and gave everyone perfect closure, while keeping the door open for more. Fallout is truly spectacular - in every sense of the word. McQuarrie really took the terms "summer blockbuster" and "event viewing" and showed what the best versions of those are.

Because I am me, and enjoy patterns, I was a bit disappointed that Cruise didn't have long hair in this. You see, before Fallout, he had short hair in the odd numbered entries, and longer hair in the even number entries. Fallout breaks that trend. But maybe it is fitting. Ethan Hunt's world was turned upside down, and he faced his biggest adversary yet - the thought of a normal domestic life. Ethan Hunt's normal is what you see on screen. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) even asks him in one part of the movie if there was ever a mission he chose not to accept. The answer is the mission of a normal domestic life with an office job, a wife and kids. He tried that once. It didn't go well, and he won't let himself get teased with it again. Hunt's normal is chaos. He has no time for hair patterns or symmetry. McQuarrie was actually asked on Twitter about it, and his answer was pretty perfect:

After the 4th Chapter, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, the franchise went from fun rentals to appointment theater viewing. It hasn't let up since. While the action and spectacle has been bigger and bigger in every entry, it still feels more grounded than say the Fast and Furious franchise. The Fast franchise does action well, but often to the detriment of the story. The action in the Mission franchise enhances the story. In fact, most of the time, the story is so good that it demands the action.

Cruise is 54. I have no idea how much longer he is going to do this. But I hope his departure from the franchise is far from now. Can we make it to Mission: Impossible 12? Ethan Hunt has to break out of the retirement community to prevent the spread of bad sleeping pills. Luther and Benji can only help on computers during their allotted leisure time after Jell-O and Bingo. 

Mission: Impossible - Fallout reminded me why I am addicted to movies. It reminded me why I truly love the medium. It reminded me why I will keep going to the movies until the I can't see, sit, hear or comprehend anything anymore. It is a marvel in movie making, a true piece of art that is worth seeing on the biggest screen humanly possible.

I hope Christopher McQuarrie is handed a superhero franchise next. Let him do Man of Steel 2 or Green Lantern Corps. Regardless of his future, Ethan Hunt might be the greatest superhero achievement of his career. 

Treat yourself and find an IMAX screen showing this. You won't regret it, if for nothing else, the helicopter sequence in the third act.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is in theaters now.  


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