25th July 2018 (UK)
Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
Two years after Ethan Hunt (Cruise) had successfully captured Solomon Lane, the remnants of the Syndicate have reformed into another organization called the Apostles. Under the leadership of a mysterious fundamentalist known only as John Lark, the organization is planning on acquiring three plutonium cores. Ethan and his team are sent to Berlin to intercept them, but the mission fails when Ethan saves Luther and the Apostles escape with the plutonium. With CIA agent August Walker joining the team, Ethan and his allies must now find the plutonium cores before it’s too late.
Given that Fallout is a continuation from the last Mission: Impossible film Rogue Nation, it was an obvious choice to bring back writer/director Christopher McQuarrie to finish what he started. With having to pen the sixth installment in a franchise which, by now surely, we know the Mission is unlikely to actually be impossible as well as re-introduce a familiar villain with a new threat, the task ahead of McQuarrie seemed very much like the titular dilemma. Miraculously, he’s not only succeeded in conquering both the aforementioned problems but has also reinvigorated the entire action movie genre with a picture that defies the odds by being the best of the bunch.
A lot of the reason why comes down to avoidance of cliches. Or more specifically, awareness of the expectations of an audience when approaching a Mission: Impossible movie and pulling away the familiarly patterned rug to replace it with a fresher design. Like I said, it’s a given that the self-destructing objectives entrusted to Ethan and his team will be completed, albeit it with some trickiness. An early curveball in Fallout signals that the game has changed though and maybe the IMF aren’t as unbeatable as we’ve been led to believe these past 20 years.
It’s not just the direction of the plot which flips your expectations; the espionage methods used in a number of the MI films get the self-awareness treatment too. Do you think the facial scanning of a target to create a mask of them has been done to death and would never work anymore? So does McQuarrie. But instead of abandoning the technology completely, he reinvents the wheel and gives it an ulterior use, making it feel worthwhile again.
That’s the best way to describe Fallout as a whole, really: it presents tired scenarios and tropes in such a way that they feel contemporary and invigorating. For decades, action films have used the threat of chemical weapons as the antagonist’s method of destruction. Fallout is no different with its plutonium bomb plot, but McQuarrie’s multi-layered approach and sophisticated mechanisms of activating them make it appear so much more alarming.
A staple feature of the Mission: Impossible franchise is its outrageously over-the-top stuntwork, usually undertaken by Cruise himself as opposed to using a stunt double. Fallout arguably features the most impressive set pieces the series has ever seen, the riskiest of which takes place in the unpredictable arena of airspace. A precarious predicament involving low oxygen levels while performing a HALO jump (High Altitude, Low Open; basically jumping from 25,000ft and opening the parachute 2,000ft) into Berlin is a breathtaking highlight, as is a wonderfully orchestrated helicopter ballet battle which Cruise spent over 3 months round the clock learning to fly the vehicle so he could perform the sequence. Say what you want about his personal life and beliefs, but the man is undoubtedly one of, if not the most, dedicated movie stars in history.
Returning cast members Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Alec Baldwin appear to be having a lot of fun reprising their roles as IMF members, although they do take a back seat for a large portion of the first two acts as the story focuses on Ethan. They do eventually play pivotal roles, however, as their individual skills are utilized accordingly in their attempts to save the world. Henry Cavill knows exactly how dashing and fearsomely handsome he is with a jawline so strong, it’s sometimes the thing throwing the punches. His character, August Walker, is sent along on the mission to keep an eye on Ethan by the CIA which leads to some testosterone-fuelled friction as the pair jostle to be seen as the alpha male.
It may seem a little premature to predict such an award, but I’m firmly calling Mission Impossible: Fallout the best action film of 2018. With awe-inspiring, death-defying stunts performed by a bona fide movie star who’s genuinely passionate about their work and a richly layered narrative that feels comfortably familiar yet freshly presented, it’s not only a franchise-high – it sets the benchmark for movies in this genre for the foreseeable future.
Contains some of the best stunt work ever filmed
A genuinely threatening villain and dilemma
At 147 minutes, there are moments which could have been trimmed