Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 2018.
Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
Starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Frederick Schmidt, Liang Yang, Kristoffer Joner, Wolf Blitzer, and Alec Baldwin.
Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
With each new instalment, the Mission: Impossible franchise gets bigger with stories that offer tension-fuelled action set-pieces, high-tech spy gadgetry and crazy stunts from the ever increasing daredevil that is Tom Cruise. Mission: Impossible – Fallout differs slightly from its predecessors by being the first character-driven story since arguably the very first film, focusing on Ethan Hunt and the various aspects that make him such a capable spy. With Christopher McQuirrie being the first director to return for a follow-up in the franchise and armed with a strong cast, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is not only the best film in the franchise thus far, but the very definition of a summer blockbuster.
If you don’t know the Mission: Impossible films well enough, you’d never be able to tell this is Tom Cruise’s sixth time portraying Ethan Hunt. He still brings his A-game to this character with an incredible amount of energy, from how he carries Ethan through a normal conversation to an intense fist fight or a full out run across London’s rooftops. What’s more, though, is what he brings to the character of Ethan himself, showing a maturity and weariness to the character as Ethan bears the weight of the world and those closest to him on his shoulders. It’s a very nuanced portrayal from Cruise that adds some new layers to Ethan. There are not many actors who have played the same role for over 20 years that have accomplished such a feat.
Part of the reason for the success on Ethan’s character lies as well on McQuarrie, who also wrote the script. Whereas Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation focused on Ethan’s capabilities as a spy and his own hubris, Fallout instead examines Ethan from a more personable standpoint as he does everything in his power to save the lives of his team, someone close to him or even a random stranger, sometimes at the cost of the mission itself. McQuarrie’s storytelling and direction is on point with its character-driven plot and a story that moves along at a nice pace. Noting feels out of place or could have been trimmed down, but everything feels very natural and organic. Even the comedic moments are well-timed and balanced with the serious drama and high-stakes mission at hand.
The supporting cast do great with their roles as well. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames both play the comic relief and straight man (though Pegg usually falls more in the comedic category) and are integral to the plot right from the very start. They are well used throughout the film while Rebecca Ferguson makes a great return to the franchise, reprising her Rogue Nation role as MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. She gets plenty of exciting moments as she once again kicks ass while also delving a bit more into her character and her similarities with Ethan. Ferguson and Cruise share some nice chemistry in Fallout as they reflect on their goals (sometimes at opposing ends too) and why they do what they do. They certainly make a great pair, both the actors and their characters. Even the smaller supporting cast, such as Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett, do well with the little screen time they have and make their characters memorable.
On the villain front, Fallout gives some of its best antagonists yet in the franchise. In a first for the films, Sean Harris also returns as Solomon Lane, who Ethan captured in Rogue Nation. Even his character gets a bit more depth as someone who believes he’s committing necessary evils for the benefit of the world, but also isn’t above taking personal revenge. He’s just as creepy and calculating as the previous film, again showing how he’s a mental match for Ethan. However, the star on the antagonist front is Henry Cavill, portraying the cold and detached CIA agent August Walker who is sent to oversee Ethan and put him in his place if need be. He’s the complete opposite of Ethan in many ways; where Ethan avoids violence, Walker has no problem sacrificing others or killing civilians and where Ethan plans his missions down to a tee, Walker is much more comfortable throwing the book out the window and winging it with brute force. As the trailer states, Ethan is a scalpel and Walker a hammer. Cavill really sells his performance through his body language, mannerisms and cold stare. He also has a good report with Cruise and is well equipped to share, if not outright steal, the screen from the film’s lead star. Thanks to Cavill’s performance, you can never tell which side of the coin Walker will land on when he makes up his mind.
Fallout isn’t all about a character-driven story though. Those who come to Mission: Impossible films for the crazy action will get plenty of that here and arguably the series’ best. McQuarrie and Cruise up their game from Rogue Nation to deliver some truly wild spectacles that are beautifully shot and choreographed. The HALO jump is one of the film’s best sequences as the camera literally follows Cruise out of a plane into a freefall over Paris. It doesn’t let up from there though by delivering a great car chase and an intense aerial dogfight with Cruise hanging from and climbing into a helicopter in midair. These scenes speak to McQuarrie’s skills as a director in making them as intense and anxiety-inducing as possible for the audience, but it also speaks to how capable his crew are. Cinematographer Rob Hardy should be commended for the film’s visual look while everything is edited in a clear and concise way. You’ll never be confused by what’s happening or who is who and where thanks to Eddie Hamilton’s editing.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout does what few 20-year-old franchises can do by delivering a solid story that explores new territory for its characters. Cruise’s performance as Ethan in this film may go down as his best in the franchise while the supporting cast, particularly Ferguson and Cavill, give strong performances that stand toe-to-toe with Cruise’s charisma. Christopher McQuarrie directs the hell out of the film and delivers several stunning action sequences that fans will love. All in all, you’d be hard pressed to find much wrong with the film as Fallout is everything you can expect from a big summer blockbuster.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★