‘It uses the usual tropes (of being the hero at the very last second) but […] it makes it truly impossible to believe Ethan will succeed this time’
Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 2018
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Angela Basset, Alec Baldwin
The latest entry into the Mission: Impossible series sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, American Made) accepting a mission whereby he has to intercept the sale of three plutonium cores, who are sought after by The Apostles who plan to use them for mass terrorism. Joined by CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill, Justice League) and his usual team of Benji (Simon Pegg, Ready Player One) and Luther (Ving Rhames) they must fend off multiple chases and fight scenes to once again save the world.
I’ve made it no secret that Tom Cruise is my least-favourite actor working today and that action films (of this sort) are generally my least favourite genre, but, that being said, Mission: Impossible – Fallout pleased even me, an action-film cynic. It’s very easy to assume that by film six in a franchise you already have your audience and, therefore, can easily produce a mediocre film knowing it’ll still sell, but, Mission Impossible II aside, they’ve all maintained a solid quality, and Mission: Impossible – Fallout is no exception. The film looks great (I can imagine it’d be a difficult task to make a bad-looking film on a $178m budget) and the soundtrack comes at the right times. Sure it uses the usual tropes (of being the hero at the very last second) but it works due to the nature of the scenes; it makes it truly impossible to believe Ethan will succeed this time (the scene involving the two helicopters being a prime example).
The story is solidly told throughout, with plenty of clever twists emphasising how smart they are (which adds more to their unit than driving through the streets of France stupidly fast in a long car-chase scene), and there’s a great chemistry between them; Pegg adds a brilliant comedic presence (as he has done in the Star Trek franchise) and Rhames brings a softer, yet still imposing, presence. Add to the mix a feisty Ferguson and a suave Cavill and the performances and characters help us connect to them because of their likability. The humour is used well, too, as it contrasts scenes enough to allow fans a moment of relief but not used enough to distract and take away from the seriousness of the film’s themes.
One aspect where it is let down on, though, is the hidden villain of the film. It’s quite obvious early on there’s a twist involved when we meet this character and it doesn’t hide it too well, so by the time it’s revealed it’s a bit of a letdown. And it’s also disappointing once again to see Tom Cruise, 56, being romantically involved with multiple women so much younger than himself. In American Made his on-screen romance was 34, The Mummy she was 33 and here the three women are 34 (Rebecca Ferguson, The Greatest Showman), 31 (Vanessa Kirby) and 42 (Michelle Monaghan, although she’s his ex-wife). Is it a requirement that Cruise needs younger, more beautiful women to protect or chase in these films? I complete accept that Cruise at 56 probably looks younger than me at 27, but can he play a character that matches his age? Instead of an Ethan Hunt still sprinting for what seems like miles to fight and defeat a villain in his 30’s. I loved that in Spectre, Daniel Craig (at the time 47) was doubting his physical fitness and ability to keep up with the younger villains, but will Cruise still be doing this role into his 60’s? A Top Gun sequel is in the works and perhaps another entry into the Dark Universe (which The Mummy poorly opened up) or another Mission: Impossible or Jack Reacher film will take Cruise passed his 60th birthday, still chasing 30-something beauties and saving the world without looking a day older than he did in the first Top Gun film.
Even from someone who dislikes the film’s genre and lead, I still found great enjoyment in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Maybe the car chases were too long and maybe the running sequences lasted slightly longer than is believable (again considering Cruise is edging closer to 60), but I was never bored. The story is great, with plenty of twists and turns (even if one is unfortunately foreshadowed), even if some things are not explored enough (Hunt’s story of going rogue isn’t delved into deep enough for my liking), but I laughed, I was excited and I wasn’t bored. Exactly what I want from a summer, popcorn action film.
Personal: * * * Acting: * * * Writing: * * * Presentation: * * * *