The first Mission Impossible released 22 years ago. That movie was more of a neo-noir espionage thriller. Starting with Mission Impossible II is where we see the franchise take the turn to bombastic action blockbuster it is today. Over two decades we have seen Tom Cruise continually risk life and limb for bigger, crazier practical stunts. In the age of CGI fueled monsters and superheroes it’s nice to experience something more analog but equally as thrilling.
This time around Ethan Hunt and his team are tasked with recovering three plutonium cores from a terrorist group called The Apostles. They are sort of like a sister college to The Syndicate from the previous film Rogue Nation. The plan goes awry and Ethan has to make a sentimental choice to save someone close to him or a practical choice to complete the mission. He chooses the former and sets into motion two and a half hours of adrenaline pumping action.
Returning for this outing is long time series veterans Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg. Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin also return to fulfill their roles from previous installments. Then there are the newcomers Angela Bassett as CIA Director and Henry Cavill with his infamous moustache as a CIA operative tasked with supervising Hunt. Michelle Monaghan plays Hunts estranged wife who we haven’t seen since Mission Impossible III and essentially written out of the series in Ghost Protocol.
Fallout aims to be a direct sequel to Rogue Nation while also tying in elements from all the previous installments. The story can be predictable but it is the most intimate story in the franchise. Between the intense action scenes there are quiet moments where Hunt is challenged on his need to accept every mission and completing those missions in the most over the top death defying way possible. Fallout explores how does actions lead to a failed relationship with his wife Julia. Humanizing super-agent Ethan Hunt is probably the most fascinating things about the story. I wish we could have spent more time on the psychology that makes him compelled to take on every challenge. The rest is the generic find the McGuffin before the McGuffin is used to end the world with a couple of twists and turns along the way. However, that action that gets us moving through the plot is absolutely superb.
Mission Impossible: Fallout hands down has the best action sequences in the series to date. The bathroom brawl is just some of the best fight choreography I have seen. Its cleanly shot and edited and can feel the brutality. Especially from Henry Cavills character August Walker. If Ethan Hunt is a precision tool then August Walker is a wrecking ball. Just a blunt force instrument. In situations where Hunt would go out of his way to avoid casualties, Walker would definitely prefer to bulldoze anyone who gets in the way. Also, his moustache is magnificent.
That’s only one action sequence of many. There is a motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris with Cruise actually driving the motorcycle. This is what separates Mission Impossible from any other action series. Watching him weave his motorcycle against traffic is all more intense knowing that there is no safety harness during this stunt. Cruise in many ways seems like the character he is portraying. In that hey both seem to have a death wish and feel this need to push themselves to the edge.
Fallout is definitively the best movie in the series. It’s probably Tom Cruises best movie in the past decade. It’s a spectacle in the best sense of the word. Tom Cruises insistence on performing his own stunts makes set pieces like the HALO jump or the helicopter chase more immersive with the stakes feeling much higher than any other action movie. I also think that it creates more tension knowing that the star of the film is legitimately taking risks. All the action is punctuated by beautiful cinematography and a terrific score. It’s very rare when a movie releases its sixth installment and it’s the best. Somehow Mission Impossible: Fallout achieves the impossible.