Film review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In an era where franchises are the norm and, usually, become stale and repetitive, Mission: Impossible has embedded the latter and still managed to serve up an unforgettable rollercoaster ride six times, reinventing itself with each one and raising the stakes higher with minimal character dialogue focusing, heavily, on stunning set pieces and striking action sequences, this formula has, certainly, paid off.
After 5 consecutive films at 56 Tom Cruise, arguably, made the best action film of the 21st century so far (other contenders: Bourne Supremacy, Mad Max: Fury Road, Logan and Dark Knight). If not the best film it, most definitely, solidified the Mission: Impossible franchise as the most consistent ever. With his desire for authenticity partnered with McQuarrie’s vision, the writers, cinematographers, Craig O’Brien’s stunning aerial photography, visual effects and editing team and a great supporting cast, in coalescence, created a globe-trotting extravaganza.
Unlike previous instalments we are treated to almost two and a half hours of nonstop action and a direct sequel. Christopher McQuarrie (Rogue Nation) returns making him the first director to oversee more than film. New characters are introduced and explored and someone tries to nuke the world, again.
Fallout sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his partners Luther (Vang Rhimes) and Benji (Simon Pegg) once again go rogue as they hunt down a terrorist known as John Lark after his organisation of twelve people — known as “the Apostles” — carry out attacks in various religious destinations before they attempt to decimate one-third of the world’s water supply hoping to create the greatest humanitarian crisis ever. Amongst the returning characters include Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), and Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). New additions August Walker (Henry Cavill) and Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) provide a fresh pair of muscles and intellect.
Naturally, Tom Cruise speeds through the streets of Paris then drifts his motorbike — yes, he did something similar in Rogue Nation — amongst the traffic around the Arc de Triomphe. Leaps off rooftops across Central London and still continuing after, literally, breaking his ankle. Scales into a helicopter using a rope attached to the bottom and then attempting a cork-screw dive through the icy mountains of Kashmir.
The action is executed with such fluidity and confidence that every unintentional breath that made it into the final cut is a sign of authentic fatigue which is exemplified in the fight sequence in the pristine rave bathroom of — which was, mainly, shot at a wide-angle — the Grand Palais, creating a suffocating environment for both the characters and audience’s allowing them to feel like a “cockroach on the kitchen floor.” This juxtaposition is a calculated method that slowly evolves from before Ethan and Walker enter the bathroom as explained by McQuarrie in an interview with IGN.
It becomes evident as to why McQuarrie was brought back to follow up his debut as Fallout unravels. The dynamic between Cruise and McQuarrie let’s madness run amuck creating a symphony of heart-pumping chases, brutal fight sequences, and visceral set-pieces whilst raising a middle-finger to Death.
However, its attempt at tackling a philosophical dilemma of the ages: ‘the trolley dilemma’ seemed inconsistent. Developed by philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967 and adapted by Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1985 this ethical question enables one to seek through the consequence of their action and attempt to establish a moral value based on the outcome or the manner in which it is achieved; would you sacrifice one person to save five?
It answered the question within the first twenty minutes of the film where Ethan saves his partner, Luther, allowing antagonists to get away with plutonium globes putting billions of people at risk — you can argue that it is justified as a plot driver — yet during the climax our persistent hero, Ethan, has no issue throwing two innocent men out of a helicopter in order to stop the plutonium globes he lost from exploding in an attempt to save billions of people he put at risk at the beginning.
The moral urgency that has anchored the last two instalments (introduced in M:I III) has yet to be, properly, explored yet even with this inconsistency it works as an advantage for the film as it makes Ethan vulnerable thus more relatable.
When all is said and done, evil exists, purely, to satisfy Tom Cruise’s relentless desire to exceed humanity’s expectations for a middle-aged man and I am happy to watch him do so every time.