Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The series shows no signs of slowing down in its sixth outing

Mission Impossible – Fallout
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
With Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin

Fancy locations, incredible stunts and edge-of-the-seat suspense come together like clockwork in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth entry in the espionage series based on the 1960s and '70s TV show.

Tom Cruise stars again as Ethan Hunt, the head of the Impossible Mission Force, or IMF. Cruise is also a producer, and the series is very much his personal project.

One of the oddities in the series is that the plots emphasize teamwork, while the films are really a showcase for Cruise, with the other characters much more in the background.

He is back in good form after the truly dreadful reboot of the Mummy in 2017, which was intended to be another series for him. The 2017 political drama American Made bombed at the box office, and 2016's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, another intended series, got scathing reviews. So Mission Impossible – Fallout looks to be his biggest success since 2015's Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

The film wastes no time getting into the action, which involves stolen nuclear material that can be used for bombs. The plot sidesteps current world politics by having the bad guys be some intellectuals with a manifesto about creating a better world through some catastrophe. It is not unlike the plot of Inferno, based on a Dan Brown novel, but without the cryptic puzzles.

Overall, though, the plot is pretty compelling, and while it has a number of complications the main thread never gets lost.

The film offers some spectacular stunts, and Cruise performed most of his own. The central one is a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump with oxygen masks so they can go to some party. The jump makes good use of the IMAX screen in 3D.

The idea of parachuting while wearing high fashion under a jumpsuit to sneak into a party is not new. Alfred Hitchcock once mentioned it as an idea he had but never used. Other films have tried it before, but not with such a long and complex jump.

The IMF force not only has to fight external enemies, but division from within. Due to the IMF's rogue behavior, a CIA agent has been assigned to babysit them. Henry Cavill, who plays Superman in the current DC universe films, is August Walker. From the start, he seems to have his own agenda and tries to make everything revolve around him.

Compared to the other cast members his acting is very stiff, and his voice stands out as being added to the film later. Probably, all the voices were redone in post-production, but Cavill's just never sounds right.

It is very easy not to like him, and that is his role in the plot so one could say he was successful.

Cruise isn't the only cast member to make it all the way from the first Mission: Impossible film, which came out in 1996. Ving Rhames is back as computer expert and hacker Luther Stickell. By now it is his signature role.

Along to add some levity is Simon Pegg, who has been present since Mission: Impossible III in 2006. He keeps things from being too grim by screwing up a little bit, but not so much that it jeopardizes the mission. One long scene of him giving confusing directions to Hunt as he chases someone stands out.

A small bit of romance is added to the plot to keep it from being too heavy on the testosterone. Rebecca Ferguson returns from Rogue Nation as Ilsa Faust, though her loyalties for much of the film are not clear. There is a chemistry between Hunt and Faust, though, from their first encounter.

One of the villains, a character named White Widow, played by Vanessa Kirby, also has a rather flirty interest in Hunt and gives a coy, smoldering performance where she seems more interested in seducing hunt than in the missing nuclear material.

Locations include Paris and London, plus one more that comes up later in the plot. All are used for maximum scenic potential on the big screen. The long and drawn out action scenes near the end live up to the promises of the HALO jump and chases from the beginning.

In its sixth entry, the Mission: Impossible series is proving to be as durable as the James Bond series. Most film ventures tend to taper off a bit with each entry, but this series keeps the budgets high and has lots of star power.

The original idea was that a new director would take over for each film. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the first time a director has repeated, as Christopher McQuarrie also directed Rogue Nation.

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