I wasn’t really sure where the Mission: Impossible storyline had left to go that wouldn’t ultimately feel like a retread. Ethan Hunt’s saved his wife, lost his wife, found a new lady-love, lost that love all while battling terrorist cells, turn-coats, and diabolical doomsday cabals in order to avert one extinction-level crisis after another.
So, it was a more than pleasant surprise to discover the plot and story arc of Mission: Impossible – Fallout centers on both Hunt’s growth (yay emotions) and a mission with plenty of twists and turns that called for its cast to do more than get their gun off. But let’s be real, it’s not really summer time until Ethan Hunt jumps off something, is nearly blown up, or assumes someone’s identity.
Director of Photography Rob Hardy and Director Christopher McQuarrie capitalized on fantastic settings and sweeping aerial shots to design a fast-paced, engrossing backdrop for a gritty story that refreshes its own tropes even as it doubles down on what makes Mission: Impossible Fallout a jam-packed thrill ride.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout leans into its well-established personalities to anchor a story arc intended to turn everything fans have come to expect from Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) and new ally MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).
Tom Cruise and company always manage to inject an element of self-deprecation and wit into what could otherwise be some pretty standard spy games. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is no exception although a few quips by Pegg fall short of the mark, overall the dialogue is witty, and nicely curated for maximum irony and therefore audience amusement.
But Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘s plot sets up the building blocks to outdo itself with the addition of CIA chief Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) and operative August Walker (Henry Cavill). The set-up showcases the best and worse of the spy world (and make for some serious top-level ass-kicking and hilarity along the way) pitting Walkers blunt-force tactics against Hunt’s more subtle brand of warfare.
After Hunt and his team suffer a serious failure, he’s forced to accept the addition of CIA operative August Walker on the cleanup mission. But Walker’s handler (Bassett) has her own agenda and is less interested in a stealth operation than going scorched earth; even if that means Walker has to go through Hunt to achieve his objective.
This time around Ethan Hunt must deal with the consequences (or shall we say, fallout…you see what they did there right) of his unwillingness to sacrifice the one for the “many.” Because old enemy, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) isn’t as out of commission as Hunt believed and thwarting the coming nuclear disaster forces Hunt into ever-more precarious situations.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is an adrenaline (or action film) junkies’ dreamscape. But coupling death-defying (often literally) action sequences, stunts, and fight scenes with a storyline that holds together and creates root-worthy characters and a harrowing cascade of events are what set this franchise apart from its genre counterparts. Thankfully, we see final (hopefully) resolution to old subplots that leaves the IMF ready to move forward to new missions they’ll choose to accept. Although it’s beyond me how this crew (and franchise) will clear the bar it raised with this installment.
Another defining characteristic of this franchise is the increasingly badass females pitted against and aligned with Hunt. Fallout nicely juxtaposes Hunt’s past and present through the women in his life without ever reducing them to stereotypes or props. Without spoiling, some of the best fight scenes and actions sequences don’t happen without Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa. Her subplot makes sense in the grand scheme of this spy world and opens the door for (emotional) moments without slowing down the film’s momentum.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout will exceed even diehard MI fans expectations with hazardous halo jumps, dueling helicopters, and vicious hand-to-hand throw-downs that highlight exactly why you should never discount a woman just because she’s in heels.
…and if you don’t leave with a renewed crush on jiu-jitsu using, rifle-wielding Ilsa Faust and a new crush on the White Widow’s (Vanessa Kirby) unhinged, yet utterly stylish self, well then I just don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
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