Mission Impossible: Fallout is once again written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and stars Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, and Alec Baldwin.
On what was a dull Saturday night in late July of 2015, my older brother and I decided to take a trip to our local cinema. Expecting a fun action flick with plenty of thrills and stunts, we exited the theater two hours later in utter shock. 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was not only one of the best action films either of us had ever seen, but one of the best films we would see that year.
So naturally, you could imagine my delight when not too long after, a sixth film in the M:I franchise was greenlit, with writer/director McQuarrie returning to helm this installment. In fact, it was pretty safe to say that this film was my most anticipated of the entire year, as this franchise has very quickly become one of my favorites. The film once again follows Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the IMF, a team of specialists trained to undertake the most impossible of missions. When a particular mission goes awry for Hunt and his team, a catastrophically dangerous weapon falls into the wrong hands. As a group of international covert terrorists holds the world hostage, the IMF, as well as allies both new and old, must race against the clock to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.
Fallout, in essence, is many things. It is a wildly fun and high-octane thrill ride that is the quintessential example of a perfect summer movie. It’s also a marvel of an action film, with mind-blowing practical stunts and set pieces, making for one of the best entries in the Mission franchise, and one of the best films that I’ve seen so far this year.
This franchise has always set the bar for quality action filmmaking, and McQuarrie continues to be the gold standard of action directors working today. Every sequence in this film’s near 150-minute runtime is carefully crafted and precisely directed, with the perfect mix of cuts and edits, and a dedication to real, practical effects, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s profoundly mind-blowing in a way I cannot express unless you see these sequences for yourself. They’re intense, adrenaline-fueled, and most importantly, they’re real. Highest marks for McQuarrie on his action directing.
This film is also very narratively sound, much like the more recent films in the franchise. There are plenty of trademark twists and turns throughout the film’s largely well-written story, with a necessary amount of comedic ease following some of the film’s more tense moments, and great character moments that deepen our knowledge and understanding of certain characters’ motivations, as well as the M:I universe as a whole. While I don’t think this film is as narratively sound as Rogue Nation, there’s still more than plenty to love about the way this film tells the sixth chapter in the franchise.
The performances in this film are excellent all-around, with returning cast members such as Pegg, Rhames, Ferguson, Harris, and Baldwin contributing the right balance of grit and charisma for an American spy film. Pegg and Harris especially are some of my favorite returning members, with performances every bit as good as their outings in Rogue Nation. Newcomers such as Bassett and Cavill are also terrific, and bring something of a mysterious edge to the overall feel of the film.
Cavill–who is something of a narrative wildcard here–is especially great. Following his performance in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Cavill has once again proven his spy-thriller legitimacy as a charismatic onscreen presence. If/when Daniel Craig ever steps down as James Bond, I’d have no problem pegging the Superman actor for the role. He’s undoubtedly one of the most talented actors working today, and will continue to ascend to great things, Bond or no Bond.
And then there’s Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise is the approximate definition of what it means to be an action movie star. I wasn’t kidding when I said the stunts in this film are real, and they’re all performed by Cruise himself. The sheer amount of physicality and dedication that Cruise continually gives to this role never ceases to floor me. There is a chase scene to kickstart the third act in which Cruise has to jump between two buildings. On the first take of the jump being shot, Cruise literally broke his ankle when he hit the wall in an awkward way by mistake. Following this accident, he then pulled himself up and finished the take. Between Cruise’s immense dedication to thrilling audiences in every way, mixed with his undeniable charisma and talent, there’s no disputing that his presence in these films is a significant part of what makes this franchise so special.
This being the sixth film in a continuous franchise, Fallout does, in fact, assume that you have a knowledge of the previous films in order to fully understand the narrative and recognize all the characters. There are plenty of callbacks to each of the previous films as well, and those not caught up on all things Mission: Impossible (especially the events of the more recent films) will likely be lost at points. The script does a decent job filling the newcomers in, but I recommend at least a decent knowledge of the franchise before this film.
This film also packs quite the whopping runtime, at almost two and a half hours of nonstop action. While this isn’t exactly a negative for me, it’s worth pointing out due to a similar problem I found people had with this year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Moviegoers sitting down for the near three-hour superhero odyssey who weren’t as invested in the Marvel universe as a whole came to find that going the distance proved to be rather challenging at points, especially around the middle. This film is very well-paced, but may at times lose the casual moviegoer who isn’t fully committed to sitting through the entire thing. You’re going to get out of this film exactly what you put in, and if you’re here for the action movie experience, Fallout most certainly won’t let you down.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is everything that I wanted it to be. It’s another rock-solid entry in one of my favorite franchises, and it’s most certainly earned a spot on the list of my favorite action films, as well as my favorite films of the year. It’s everything that I love about going to the movies, and I quite literally cannot wait to go back and accept this mission again. Mission: Impossible – Fallout gets an A+.