By Jack Dignan
It’s a rare feat finding a modern blockbuster where the fate of the protagonists actually feels as if it’s in peril. With the way Hollywood markets its movies, and the knowledge that whatever film we’re watching is bound to get a sequel at some point, we often come to expect that our favourite characters are ultimately going to be okay. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the hell out of those movies, but suspense in modern blockbusters is often severely lacking. And then Mission: Impossible – Fallout came along and changed everything.
For the first time in a very long time, this movie made me genuinely believe these characters were going to die. Sure, Avengers: Infinity War was to feature an inevitable character death or twenty, but even then, we have faith that next year’s installment is bound to have a happy ending. With the latest Mission: Impossible, a franchise that started as a mid budgeted spy thriller but eventually evolved into high-octane action extravaganza, the thrills are real. This isn’t some cheap, artificial fast food feeling movie. This is the real deal. And for a lot of it, the stakes felt real.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) made a choice. He chose the safety of his team over maintaining the security of a world ending nuclear weapon, and now there’s a price to pay. Three plutonium bombs have been lost, and it’s up to Hunt and his team to get them back to safety before a whole lot of people meet an unruly demise. Also returning are Rebecca Furguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin and Michelle Monaghan, who are joined by new additions Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill.
While I was fond of each new Mission: Impossible film bringing to the table a new director, and hence a new style of filmmaking, it’s soon made abundantly clear that Christopher McQuarrie, of Usual Suspects and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation fame, was the perfect man for the job. This is action at its finest. His grasp on both the story and the visuals showcase an unbridled talent as a filmmaker. Fallout not only brings with it all the charm and excitement we’ve come to hope for in a film like this, but it dives deep into the psyche of our long standing protagonist, unraveling what makes him tick.
There’s a few rocky steps to hurdle over in the first act, with an opening dream sequence feeling awkwardly and humorously put together, followed by a dump of exposition that spends far too long draining on about information relevant to the plot. Visually appealing, sure, but just as draining. There’s an early meeting between Hunt, Pegg’s Benji and some villainous dealers that could’ve just as easily have been the opening scene of the movie and we would’ve gotten all the exposition and stakes that we needed.
However, once you get past this brief but impactful opening, Fallout is a nonstop adrenaline rush that never even tries to pull its punches. By the time you get to the single take HALO jump, followed promptly by an unfathomably brutal bathroom brawl, you’ll be struggling not to fall in love with the insanity this film has hidden beneath the surface. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one hell of a movie. Sooner or later, Tom Cruise is going to meet his demise filming one of these all-practical stunts, but until that day arrives, it’s best to sit back, relax, and take in his gracious gifts to the world.
It’s the knowledge that Cruise is actually doing this stuff that really up’s the ante. Everything you see on screen is real. There’s no CGI fake-outs or body doubles used in any of the insane stunts, and I often found myself shaking my head in utter disbelief. The levels of dedication that not only Cruise but the entire stunt team have managed to go to is unprecedented. Every new Mission: Impossible film has the daunting task of having to one-up the last installment, but once again, they pulled through, and I won’t shy away from the fact that the third act chase had me shaking and sweating. It’s insane.
So not only does this film deliver all the thrills and edge of your seat insanity you’ve come to expect, but it explores rich themes and personal character motivations rarely seen in movies like these. Mission: Impossible – Fallout takes your basic spy movie and rejuvenates it, and there’s not a weak link to be found in the entire cast or crew. The cinematography is beautiful, the performances are dedicated, and Henry Cavill’s beard is mighty fine. A woman next to me gasped every time he was on screen and honestly, I don’t blame her. This was worth fudging a CGI Superman over.
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