‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ review: Rare franchise consistently outperforming itself

With its sharp choreography and tight pacing, Christopher McQuarrie’s ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ solidifies itself as this year’s action movie to beat. Like its ageless franchise, Tom Cruise is simply an indestructible icon.

The ‘Tom-Cruise-risks-his-life-for-our-entertainment’ show is back. See the legendary Ethan Hunt run, drive, climb, leap, swing and fight with 110% effort, while showing no signs of fatigue in the sixth installment of M:I franchise. Even at 56, Mr. Cruise is never too old for this and he never looks like one. When an actor this awesome commits himself to an insane degree – he infamously broke his ankle while jumping from one building to another and still kept going – that alone deserves a standing ovation, right? Likewise, reprising director Christopher McQuarrie disproves every sequel’s law of diminishing returns and outperforms its predecessors through this relentless piece of filmmaking. To put it this way, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the finest action movies ever made.

The basic setup for Fallout is laid out in the first few minutes and then the plot unfolds at a breakneck pace. Ethan’s mission – should he choose to accept it (like he has a choice) – is to stop a group of terrorists called “The Apostles” from acquiring three plutonium cores planned to be weaponized as nuclear bombs. It’s your standard plot of Ethan Hunt saving the world against shady anarchists who want to raze the current world order. While the film can stand alone in itself, this works more as a direct sequel to 2015’s Rogue Nation as it brings back familiar key players. Ethan still works for IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) and he is aided by his trusty sidekicks Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames). Femme fatale former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) seeks exoneration and gets herself entangled while incarcerated mass-murderer Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), more manic than before, seems to be the one pulling the strings behind this chaos. Lane is still a firm believer of his nihilist philosophy, “the greater the pain, the greater the peace” and he wants to exact revenge against Ethan more than anything. Hence, Ethan deals more compromises this time. His inability to adjust his ideals could be the fallout of his good intentions.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

If you’ve seen M:I films before, you should know by now that it is within the nature of these films to get twisty and convoluted. Needless to say, people wear masks and fool each other. Sheer adrenaline fuels a plot filled with double-crossing and one will be given little time to contemplate on what just happened. Ethan and his team needs to figure out who’s working on their side. The biggest question mark is August Walker (Henry Cavill) – a hammer to Ethan’s scalpel – who is sent by CIA director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) to monitor his team’s activities. Also entering the fray is a black market dealer White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) who’s deft with a butterfly knife.

While some might care less about Fallout’s cerebral workout on its shifting alliances, the true ingenuity of this film is in its masterful fight and stunts choreography paired with an excellent pacing. These don’t get acknowledged enough and the M:I franchise is known for its million-dollar money shots. In Ghost Protocol, Ethan scaled the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai. In Rogue Nation, he fearlessly hanged by his fingers from a cargo plane. Fallout exceeds them and has at least half a dozen of varied death-defying setpieces shot with gripping camera work (void of any Bourne franchise’s quick cuts and shaky camera). There’s this much-touted HALO jump that makes the whole cinema hold their breath in unison. A tightly edited, breathless motorcycle chase across the streets of Paris. A bone-crunching bathroom brawl, with Cavill literally reloading his arms before packing a punch. And then there’s a fantastic helicopter chase sequence that I can watch all day. Fallout is a marathon that goes all out.

Hunt’s IMF team (L-R): Benjamin Dunn (Simon Pegg), Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell)

You could watch a CGI-driven action film like Skyscraper and think about ‘The Rock’ doing his stunts in a green screen but not in here. The film has an abundance of practical effects hence, it feels real and terrifying. It’s highly improbable but it is physics grounded. Yes, that’s actually Cruise skydiving out of the plane or him dangling under the helicopter! McQuarrie cleverly refrains from using soundtrack during its dire moments so viewers can absorb every slam and every blow. It takes a genius to organically string violent setpieces with such elegance.

When a franchise constantly outperforms itself, one blockbuster after the other, does the term ‘franchise fatigue’ even apply? Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the high-water mark of a series that began two decades ago. It is a confident and capable torchbearer in the action genre, gaining more momentum with each passing installment. If the rumors are true that this will be the last (which I highly doubt), then Tom Cruise is coming out in a blaze of glory.

5 out of 5 stars

Distributed by Paramount Pictures, ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘ is now showing in PH cinemas starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

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