Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Posted: July 31, 2018 in Film reviews
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Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Sean Harris.

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It’s two years since Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team captured terrorist Solomon Lane (Harris), and the remains of Lane’s organisation, The syndicate, has mutated into a group known as The Apostles.  The Apostles latest job is buying three plutonium cores for an environmental fundamentalist known only as John Lark, who plans to build three nuclear bombs to usher in a new world order. In Berlin Hunt and his comrades Benji (Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Rhames) attempt to recover the plutonium but fail, leading the new CIA Director Erica Slone (Angela Bassett) to pull rank on the IMF Secretary Alan Huntley (Alec Baldwin) to place her own man onto Hunt’s team as they move to Paris to intercept John Lark as he deals with an arms dealer named The White Widow (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby). Sloane’s agent is August Walker (Cavill), a single minded CIA assassin who has little time for the IMF’s tactics of deception and rubber masks.

A spanner is thrown into the works when MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Ferguson) returns with a secret agenda. As double crosses abound, and nuclear bombs are set, can Hunt and his team save the day, or is this one mission that really will prove totally impossible?

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It’s kinda sobering to realise Tom Cruise first played Ethan Hunt 22 years ago. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s made more Mission Impossible films than any actor has been Bond other than Connery and Moore!

It is a curious franchise however, with odd tonal shifts and big gaps between some of the films, although they’ve been more frequent recently. For me the quality has been variable, and as a fan of the original TV series some of them have skewed too much towards high octane action at the expense of the clever sting operations that were the show’s stock in trade.

What you can’t deny is Cruise’s star power, and his athleticism, he’s 56 for God’s sake! And here we are imagining Daniel Craig might be getting too old to play 007. It’s still amazing that Cruise does so many of his own stunts, although this time he did manage to break his ankle so he’s nowhere near as invincible as he once was.

But you’re not here for an appraisal of Tom Cruise’s physical condition, you want to know if the film is any good, and yes it is, really good. It might even be my second favourite (after the original).

Christopher McQuarrie returns as writer and director, which was a slight worry given that Rogue Nation was such an uneven affair, a film that frontloaded its best scenes and ended up with a damp squib of a finale set in London (which eerily mirrored Spectre which came out a few months later and suffered from the same problem.)

This time the pacing is spot on, well, mostly. The film is still too long, and a trifle baggy in the middle. One car chase through Paris is immediately followed by another car chase through Paris, plus the finale, whilst very good, runs way longer than the 15 minutes we’re supposed to believe it is.

636679576547803713-mcj-04602rBut I’m quibbling. I enjoyed it a lot. Cruise owns the screen (as usual) and is ably supported by a top notch cast. Rhames and Pegg have such a natural rapport that you almost wish they had their own spin off series, and Ferguson proves, yet again, that she might be one of the best Bond girls we never had. As Walker Cavill brings a sneering physicality to the role, imbued with a lot of charm (and yes I’ll say it, he’d make a great Bond). Returning villain Sean Harris is something of a weak link, if only because he’s so understated, because this isn’t really a film for understatement. Baldwin and  Bassett bring the necessary gravitas, and special mention to Kirby playing the daughter of Max (Vanessa Redgrave’s character in the very first Mission Impossible film though this is quite subtle) and there’s even a place for Michelle Monaghan to return as Ethan’s long hidden wife (hard to believe she was in Mission Impossible III).

35774The stunts and set pieces are impressive, although often they seemed a trifle familiar because they’re riffs on things you’ve seen in another Mission Impossible, or a Bond, or a Bourne, but maybe it’s impossible to be truly innovative these days.

Aside from some clunky—but probably necessary—exposition on occasion, Christopher McQuarrie’s script is clever and funny, even if everyone’s motivations seem a trifle vague. It’s also nice to see McQuarrie not treating his cast like idiots, but as smart professionals, and there’s some wonderful bluffs and double bluffs going on here, and it’s nice to see some old school Mission Impossible schemes, even if things end up needing helicopter gunships rather than rubber masks to resolve matters in the end.

A tad too long, and I can’t rule out it ending up essentially being just A N Other big budget action film to get lost in the forest of such films, but I enjoyed it a huge amount while I was watching it and really, what more do you want?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this film. Go on, don’t make me disavow you!

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Comments
  1. Stace Fairhurst says:

    I agree with the length, it did seem to go on a little. One other thing we noticed, was that the violence had been ramped up a bit. Like you said, they relied on more than the clever tricks than normal. I consider MI’s deceptions to be similar to Bond’s gadgets and whilst too many becomes tiresome, too few can be disappointing.
    Good film, though.

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