Mission Impossible is a series I’ve loved dearly ever since I saw three entire walls of Mission Impossible VHS tapes staring back at me at the tumultuous age of 13. “What is this movie that requires hundreds of tapes for my small town,” I wondered. I soon discovered a film that subverted the action, constantly surprised, and was as intense as they come. Twenty-two years later, here we are as Tom Cruise does it again with one of the most intense action films I’ve ever seen. It’s a film that is long but feels like it needs to be, has literally every kind of action sequence you can think of and does every single one very well, and is a total blast.
Mission Impossible: Fallout opens with a nightmare. It’s the driving force behind Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) entire motivation in the film. Writer and director Christopher McQuarrie has Ethan constantly worrying about keeping his friends and even the most random police officer alive. It’s a message that makes Ethan practically a superhero, and based on the stunts he pulls he certainly is one, and it’s this opening moment that reminds viewers the central character really only has one mission in mind: to never give up on anyone.
With the character motivation out of the way and the rest of the characters aware of Ethan’s goal and acting to foster it, the film gives good reasons why things are happening. One of my action movie pet peeves is watching characters chase a McGuffin, hit a button, or do some other seemingly mundane thing to string along a few chases and ramp up the tension of a moment. This film gives many different reasons why Ethan must chase or be chased throughout the film giving it an appropriate level of purpose. It’s true this film has a lot of action movie tropes like ticking time bombs, but it’s done so well you will hardly notice. You may leave wondering why someone didn’t kill Ethan in a scene, or what motivated someone to do something that could have resolved things sooner, but overall it’s a tight film with plenty of purpose.
I’m not certain, but this movie may have the most forms of chase scenes ever put on film. Car chases, motorcycle chases, skydiving chases, rock climbing chases…seriously there are a lot of ways to chase a person! These scenes are excellently shot and done in a very real way. I’d be surprised to find out if more than an errant use of CGI (like, say, splicing two shots together) was needed to make this film look so good. There are shots in this film that are drop-dead gorgeous. The fact that some of these scens are moving at breakneck speeds within a helicopter that is spiraling to the ground only makes the scenes that much more delicious. There were a handful of moments where I pondered if a shot was really all that necessary (and at 2 hours and 27 minutes I was looking for overlong scenes that could be cut), but they were usually too pretty or jaw-dropping to warrant snipping from the film. Regardless of how spectacular the stunts were, the shots always maintain a high standard of beauty.
Speaking of stunts, this film has quite a few whoppers. Sadly the trailers spoil a bunch, but for the most part you’re going to be shocked and surprised quite a bit. Once again Ethan is using his expert car handling skills in the city (this time in London) much like he did in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation cranking the break and spinning like a ballerina. The skydiving scene is incredible and particularly beautiful in IMAX. I’m sure it took many dives to get the sequence in the film, but boy does it look real. Other highlights include brutal fight scenes and the daredevil helicopter sequence that will have you gripping the chair as if you’re in the cockpit. And the fight sequences have everything and the kitchen sink (because the sink is involved in the action at one point) conveying how hard it is to knock someone out. They’ve outdone themselves with this film to the point where they either need to spend a few years thinking of ways of topping this or just quit altogether.
The supporting cast is excellent once again. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces pop back up in this film not only bringing a richness to the tapestry, but also adding a bit of closure for certain characters. Jeremy Renner doesn’t pop back in, but maybe he will since Avengers: Infinity War scheduling is why he wasn’t in this one. Simon Pegg is quirky and funny while Ving Rhames brings an elder point of view that is welcome. Angela Bassett is excellent (when is she not?) as CIA head Erica Sloan who gets a meaty enough part to make fans hope she comes back for more.. Alec Baldwin gets a bit more to do this time around and Rebecca Ferguson plays well as the romantic counterpart who can do it all. Henry Cavill is very good as well (almost to the point where you hope he stops making Superman films) and his bigger size is a nice juxtaposition to Cruise’s smaller frame. These two are competing for every frame and you believe every step of the way that Cavill can hold his own.
Aside from the usual, “it’s a movie” moments like zipping to new locations in no time flat or changing clothes into slick leather with only a few minutes passing, there is a twist scene on top of a twist scene that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. This is required for action films, though this one requires fewer of them, but it hurts the credibility of a supporting character in a way that seems unnecessary.
Though I may be a huge fan of this series, I am very critical and went into this film with very high expectations due to the buzz and also because it was pushed to two plus hours. I couldn’t be happier with this movie. It’s big, pushes the bar ever higher, and feels important as it delivers on its spectacle. It’s highly entertaining while keeping you fully invested in its characters. It does all this while justifying plot contrivances. This film is so good at what it does you’ll pray they make more.