Today: April 22, 2024

Mission Impossible: Fallout

There was a time when it came to certain franchises you knew what you were getting. Take James Bond for example, you went for the gadgets, the quips, the exotic locations and Bond being, well, Bond. But, in order to stay fresh, franchises have to evolve, become something different under the guise of being the same. It’s an analogy that ties perfectly into Mission Impossible, with all it’s rubber-masked identity switching. Yet, while Bond has in recent times stumbled and faulted in knowing its true persona, Mission Impossible has remained steady.

The way Mission Impossibles have evolved is by allowing the filmmaker in charge of the latest opus to focus on something that they excel at. De Palma had his noirish conspiracy, Woo had his slow-mo action, Abrams had his balancing the personal and professional, Bird had team of incredible spies and then Christopher McQuarrie who, with his first Impossible film Rogue Nation, took Mission Impossible into a more labyrinthine world of espionage in which the IMF team are as dispensable as they are always told they are. The first returning director to the franchise therefore has the chance to evolve with the franchise and the results are easily one of the most breathtakingly brilliant in the series.

When their latest mission to capture three nuclear devices goes array the IMF team’s ability to get the job done is called into question. With CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) instructed to shadow them, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) leads the team to retrieve the nuclear cores. What they uncover though is a bigger mystery involving the previous film’s evil nemesis Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and his determination to see the world burn.

If that last part sounds like a certain Joker from Christopher Nolan’s Batman there can be no denying that McQuarrie has unquestionably taken inspiration from The Dark Knight trilogy. And it is to Mission Impossible: Fallout’s huge benefit. Because there is a level of dark foreboding at the centre of Fallout that has, up till this point, been lacking in the series. Everything you expect from a M:I film is here, the action, the intrigue and the thrills but the tangible impact of all those is felt like a sucker punch to the gut.

This primarily comes in the form of Hunt’s burden of guilt when it comes to his responsibility to his team, to his former wife (Michelle Monaghan), MI6 Agent Ilsa Faust (the returning Rebecca Ferguson) and the fate of the world. It is here that Fallout feels like it carries a weight akin to Bruce Wayne’s. Suddenly Ethan isn’t just an all-action man – he’s still that – but you know all this responsibility might finally be getting to him, that it might, if he’s not careful, kill him, or worse, break him.

This is felt most keenly during the action sequences. McQuarrie and Cruise have taken the now trademark Cruise stunt set pieces to levels so jaw-dropping they make that hanging off a skyscraper look like child’s play. Watching Cruise fall from helicopters, slalom through Paris on a motorbike, halo-jump, pilot helicopters and fall from cliffs is simply eye-popping. So staggering are they you wonder; can they ever top this?

In an era in which Liam Neeson takes about three hundred cuts to leap a fence in Taken 3 and CGI makes anything possible it is delightful that Cruise still insists on putting his life on the line to capture something worthy of your hard earned cash. Here, Cruise is the thumping heart of the film but he’s able to do this being surrounded by the comic relief of Simon Pegg, the gentle giant of Ving Rhames, the tortured Rebecca Ferguson and the emotionless Cavill. The latter is the perfect foil and juxtaposition to Cruise’s feels-to-much super spy. A man of sheer muscular, clenched-fist, coiled anger as to highlight Hunt’s controlled, planned execution.

The best in the franchise and one of the best films of 2018, Mission Impossible: Fallout evolves the franchise into something both familiar and fresh. It’s rare for a franchise in its sixth outing to even dare attempt such a thing.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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