Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mission Impossible Series: Mission Impossible Fallout (2018)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout **** ½ / *****
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie.
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie based on the television series created by Bruce Geller.
Starring: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Henry Cavill (August Walker), Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Vanessa Kirby (White Widow), Michelle Monaghan (Julia Meade-Hunt), Angela Bassett (Erica Sloan), Alec Baldwin (Alan Hunley), Wes Bentley (Patrick), Sean Harris (Solomon Lane).
I have stopped being surprised by just how good the Mission Impossible movies are. Preparing for this, the sixth installment in the 22-year-old series, I went back and watched the other five films – and there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Every time you think you have the series figured out, it throws another curveball at you. With Fallout, that curveball may just be that for the first time, they have essentially made a direct sequel to the last film – and it brings back other plot elements from the previous films as well. That doesn’t mean you have to know a whole lot about those other films to get this one – you can walk in cold if you want, and you will still be knocked out by the action in the film. That is really what this series has always been about, and Fallout delivers some of the best action sequences of the series. It also has a plot that movies a mile a minute, and some genuinely good performances. This movie runs nearly two and half hours, but doesn’t feel long at all. This is the new high point in what was already the best action series going.
The plot is simple enough to describe – a group known as The Apostles want to get their hands on nuclear weapons, because their theory is that peace will only come from pain – the greatest the pain, the greater the peace. Their leader is Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the villain from the last film that Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team captured instead of killed. Since then, he has been shunted from one government to the next for interrogation purposes. Hunt and his team had a chance to secure the nuclear material the Apostles need early in the film – but Hunt chose to save his teammates rather than the material, which has now fallen into the wrong hands – so now they need to get it back. Hunt is joined by Benji and Luther (Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) who have been around for a while now, and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) who joined last film. They are also saddled with August Walker (Henry Cavill), a CIA agent they don’t really want. As Sloan (Angela Bassett), the head of the CIA says early in the film, Hunt is a scalpel, Walker is a hammer.
From there, it’s one great action set piece after another – and one double cross after another. I will fully admit that when I found out that McQuarrie was doing the fifth installment, I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to maintain the high level of action the series had always had – and he proved me wrong with Rogue Nation. With Fallout, he proves he is one of the best directors of action working in the world right now. The sheer volume of action sequences in Mission Impossible Fallout is amazing. The fact that they are so varied and different from each other is even more so. There are hand-to-hand combat scenes, a car/motorbike chase, shootouts, perhaps the best sequence of Tom Cruise running ever captured on film (and THAT is saying something), and of course the helicopter climax. The action direction here is clear and clean. This series has never relied on shaky cameras or rapid fire editing to goose the tension, nor has it relied on too much obvious CGI. The only special effects this series has ever needed is Tom Cruise. I half expect that he’s going to kill himself one day working on these films, because he really seems to be throwing himself into these roles. While I really do wish he would take on more roles than just action movies – he isn’t the best actor in the world, but his performances in films like Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia are as good as they get – but I’m still grateful he goes for it each and every time in these films. In a way, he’s the only one who could pull these roles off – so perhaps it’s good he concentrates on them.
The supporting cast is also great. Sean Harris was a decent bad guy in Rogue Nation – he’s far better this time around, as he’s got more to work with. Ferguson has become my favorite leading lady in this series so far – she matches Cruise’s intensity, and works well with him. Best of all is probably Henry Cavill, who is perfectly cast as a hammer.
Mission Impossible Fallout joins the ranks of the best action films of the 21st Century so far – alongside films like Mad Max Fury Road, and both Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation. As pure entertainment, these films are tough to beat. This is one of the best films of the year – action or otherwise.

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