The best spy franchise in cinema history (Bond fans are screaming) made it’s sixth and absolutely not last appearance in the form of Mission Impossible: Fallout. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt returns, not a day over 56, to the world saving business; as well as almost the entire core cast of the last film (barring Jeremy Renner who could not shoot due to scheduling complications), as well as the one and only Superman, Henry Cavill. It’s nuclear detonation prevention duty again for the IMF, who, in this film, are made to deal with intervention from now-Secretary Alec Baldwin’s old stomping ground; the CIA. Henry Cavill consequently joins Ethan Hunt and the main team as they infiltrate, double cross, and destroy all organizations and physical structures that come before them, as per usual, on their mission to save the world from missing plutonium.
This film felt different from all the Missions that have come before. In other Missions, no matter how ridiculous it got, it always felt like Ethan Hint had a plan, like he had it under control. This film tosses that concept unceremoniously out the window, as Ethan Hunt is plunged into the world of not-knowing-what-the-hell-you’re-doing-while-piloting-a very-heavy-and-also-flammable-helicopter. There is no identifiable moment in the film where the situation feels under control or anyone feels like they can rest; which, while changing the mood of the old films, makes for one of the most breathless, pulsating action films I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Most of the action, even the sub-zero ones, are done without a soundtrack. On a literal level, this means that you can hear engines, gunshots, and lots of heavy breathing and grunting during a lot of the film, which gives the action a raw, natural feel that makes the outlandish stunts (all really done by Tom Cruise, even the f*****g helicopter) more heart-in-mouth and suspenseful. The action does not slow down either, not an ounce of drag on the film, and the audience is on the edge of their seats at every single moment of the film, waiting for what comes next.
I wish I had the space to mention the franchise nods, which I’ll cover in a full franchise review soon, but instead it’s time to acknowledge some of the mistakes in this film. The screenplay, principally the dialogues, were lazy to say the least. Really very poor writing in some fairly important moments, and the majority of the comedy, despite Simon Pegg’s quality, felt often forced. The performances were all as good as ever, but Henry Cavill made a very poor impression in his role, never cementing his intentions as (slight spoilers) as a villain. I just wasn’t convinced that his character gave a damn, and he ended up being an accessory to Solomon Lane instead of his own force. Maybe this was fault of a very poor set of dialogue, but it wasn’t that he wasn’t convincing, it was that he was thoroughly unconvincing. Tom Cruise, who is a much better actor than most people understand, did a decent job portraying an Ethan Hunt out of his element, but even he was a little shaky at times. I’m personally not sold on the relationship between his and Rebecca Ferguson’s characters’. There’s no real sign of affection or attachment, the odd soft look here and there and the last scene of the film are all the hook the audience is given, and I’m so sorry but I don’t care. The relationship with Hunt’s wife in the third film, and (slight spoilers) even this one was developed to be so much deeper, and they managed that in one film (and like thirty seconds of another).
This film was billed as a tie-up, and the most emotionally satisfying aspect of the film, for me, was the closure about Hunt’s wife, Julia. That was a fantastic relationship, really well developed and sold, that turned into a powerful characterization of Ethan Hunt in the fourth film when her disappearance from the films is explained. There’s real substance to the characters in this franchise, which is what sets it apart from most other action franchises in my opinion. Either way, her surprise appearance in this film, back in the thick of the action, and the way the film ends, provides beautiful closure for that aspect of the characters, and was probably my favorite part of the movie. Julia’s banter with Luther, the look on her face when she understands the world she’s been dragged back into, it’s tastefully well done and that emotional closure MI faithful get at the end is matched only by the relative awkwardness of Ilsa’s final scene with Hunt.
To sum it up, or to try to, Mission Impossible: Fallout was a pulsating, thrilling edge-of-the-seat action film. I can’t say it was the best of the franchise, it was too different from the other films to say that, but it was without a doubt the rawest and authentic of any of the films before it. The action was pure excitement, pure tension, with the nail biting suspense left down to the last actual second. The double crossing and the trickery is fluid (I counted like 5 or 6 double crosses in one scene), and the character treatment is, for the most part, excellent. The resulting catharsis is wonderful, and I’d recommend this film to pretty much anyone, even those who don’t typically fancy themselves action fans. This one is not your typical action film.