The Mission: Impossible franchise is Tom Cruise’s franchise. Not only does Cruise star in the films, but he’s produces each film in the series and handpicks the directors for each film, usually a different one each time. No actor has ever had this much power on franchise in cinematic history. What having this much power has done is allow Cruise to showcase how absolutely insane he is. Notorious for doing his own stunts, Cruise is always doing bigger, crazier stunts every movie, showing us how far he is willing to push himself.
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie is the first director to return behind the camera, after the last installment, Rogue Nation. Previous directors in the franchise included Brian DePalma, John Woo, JJ Abrams, and Brad Bird, but none of them came back for another. What makes McQuarrie perfect for Cruise and this franchise is that he enables Cruise. He pushes him even further. He understands Cruise’s insanity and wants to showcase it.
Fallout is an all-out showcase for both Cruise and McQuarrie. It showcases a vision and scale for McQuarrie and is a showcase for Cruise to show us who he is as a person and as a movie star.
In Fallout, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is in hiding when he gets a mission that details a terrorist plot led by the Syndicate and their new sub-group, The Apostles. While attempting to recover some stolen plutonium that are key to The Apostles terror plan, Ethan, Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames) get caught in a shoot-off with The Apostles and end up losing the plutonium, putting the entire world in danger. It is now up to the IMF team to recover the plutonium and save the world before nuclear destruction takes place.
Standing in their way, however, is the C.I.A., who assign the big, violent August Walker (Henry Cavill) to shadow Ethan’s every move and try to keep things going the way of the C.I.A. and not the IMF. They also have to deal with Ethan’s old pal Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), who is on a mystery assignment, and Ethan’s former nemesis Soloman Lane (Sean Harris).
In every Mission: Impossible film, the set pieces get bigger and more extreme. There were some big sequences in the first three films, from the finale in the train tunnel in the first film to the bridge explosion in the third film. But Brad Bird took it to another level in Ghost Protocol with the Burj Khalifa climb and McQuarrie picked it right up in Rogue Nation with an opening sequence that had Cruise hanging from the outside of a plane. But in Fallout, McQuarrie tops all of them, in both scale and quantity of pieces. There are a number of thrilling sequences that will have your heart pounding out of your chest and your palms sweating, like Hunt HALO jumping from 25,000 feet that is a masterstroke in cinematography and thrills. Or the French Connection-esque car chase through downtown Paris that is easily one of the best car chases I’ve seen this decade. Or the aerial helicopter battle at the ends the movie, McQuarrie is relentless with the action, redefining what an action film really is.
But the action isn’t all Fallout has. It also has a strong story, cool tricks, great mask play, and wonderfully written characters, each getting their own time to shine.
Along with Cruise, who is at his craziest here, giving everything he has and then some into a performance no other actor could possibly give, the rest of the IMF team is great, particularly Rhames who crushes the films most emotional moments. Ferguson is exceptional once again, as the mysterious, troubled agent and Henry Cavill has never been better as Walker.
Fallout is the culmination of all the Mission: Impossible films. We get bits from other films and we see the return of some past characters and past stories. But what McQuarrie does is really make Ethan Hunt a mythical hero of sorts. Whenever the world is in danger, Ethan Hunt seems to be the only person who can save it. Not the C.I.A., not MI6, just Ethan Hunt and his IMF team. In past films, whenever something needed get done, Hunt had a plan. It was a rough plan, but he still had an idea of what he was going to do. Here, it isn’t that easy. Hunt continuously utters the line, “I’ll figure it out!” whenever his team asks what his plan is. The pressure of saving the world has gotten to Ethan. He’s not as quick as he used to be and he’s not as smooth as he used to be. That feeling of Ethan versus the world is shot beautifully by McQuarrie and cinematographer Rob Hardy, utilizing the scale and scope of the film to show how small this one man is and how big of a task he is taking on. It only makes the hero mythology of Hunt even stronger. We also see the struggle Hunt has morally. Who is more important, the people he loves or the world? Hunt faces this decision on a number of occasions during the film and it is his balance of saving both that makes Hunt the greatest action hero of our time.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the best in the Mission: Impossible franchise. It takes everything that is great about the franchise and roles it all into one movie. The IMAX photography is truly stunning and McQuarrie directs action like a pro. This is one of the best action films I have ever seen and one of 2018’s very best movies.
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