The Mission: Impossible series has consistently shown itself to be one of the best action franchises in modern cinema. After rocky beginnings with the first two films, the formula and brilliance of these films came into their own with Mission: Impossible 3. Whilst that one is my personal favourite in the series, the positive influence that JJ Abrams has had on the films is clear, with Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation being great action films, and Fallout easily fits into this category.
The film takes place 2 years after the events of Rogue Nation, with the remains of The Syndicate reforming themselves as a terrorist organisation, The Apostles. They plan to gain access to cores to build nuclear bombs, being able to get them after a failed mission orchestrated by Ethan Hunt. After Hunt’s failure to recover the cores, he is forced to team up with CIA agent Walker to find the cores and stop the Apostles’ attacks, with this forcing Hunt to cross paths with MI6 agent, and returning from Rogue Nation, Ilsa Faust and the former leader of the Syndicate, Solomon Lane. Now, what works about the plot of the film is how it frames the difference between Hunt and Walker. It’s shown that Hunt has some level of compassion and loyalty, believing that one life is just as important as the lives of thousands, giving him more of a personal stake in any of the missions he is going through, whilst Walker is essentially a bulldozer, going through missions with sheer brute force. This also plays into some great plot elements regarding the traditional mask reveal in the Mission: Impossible films, this one having some of the best versions of that scene in the series. There are also some great callbacks to the other films, mainly 3 and Rogue Nation, giving the film a wider scope that feels more natural than say how Spectre tried to link all the Daniel Craig Bond films together. However, there are problems in terms of pacing in the final act of the film, and there are a lot of plot elements, in particular the main actions of Solomon Lane, that are just directly copied from 3. I mean I get why, none of the other Mission: Impossible films have had a villain that’s even half as good as Owen Davian in 3, but this is a bit too far. I don’t really want to say too more though as there are some pretty big spoilers that the trailers haven’t given away, and I won’t either.
The cast are great as well, although the character development they go through isn’t as interesting as in the other films. Tom Cruise is once again great as Ethan Hunt, showing the humanity and humour underneath the bravado, the care and respect he has for his team being clear throughout. This is a great contrast with the fairly emotionless performance from Henry Cavill as Walker, which works to show a detachment Walker has from the other characters, focusing on his work above all other things for most of the film. Simon Pegg is fun as Benji again, but his character arc was completed in Rogue Nation so there isn’t anything more for him to do. Ving Rhames as Luther meanwhile kind of shows that he’s the true heart of the series in this film, having a great, quiet moment in the third act that shows the weight that Rhames brings to these films. Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust meanwhile shows the moral complexity of the character well, but again her arc isn’t as strong as it was in Rogue Nation, even though there is great chemistry between her and Cruise which sells the relationship between the characters. Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett meanwhile are solid authority figures, their different approaches contrasting well, even if they aren’t given enough to do, whilst Vanessa Kirby is fun, but since her role hasn’t been shown in the trailers, I won’t go into detail here and Sean Harris is an effective villain, even if his best work is just copying Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s work in Mission: Impossible 3.
The technical side of the film is where these films truly shine, this film having probably the best action sequences in any of the Mission: Impossible films. The way Christopher McQuarrie and DP Rob Hardy shoot the action scenes is incredible, giving clear shots of everything, making every impact feel real, along with giving a great sense of speed to stuff like car chases. There’s even a one shot scene that is set during a HALO jump shot entirely in one take, which is even more impressive considering that it was an actual HALO jump. The stunt team in particular, including the team that trained Tom Cruise for his stunts, needs to be given special praise. All of the stunts here are excellently done, giving the film a real visceral feel, making sure you know that if even one thing went wrong then there would be a serious injury. In fact, we see a serious injury in the film, the footage of Tom Cruise breaking his ankle is included in the film. There’s even a good bit of humour during these scenes and they do a great job of building up the characters.
Overall, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a great action film. Whilst I still rate 3 as my personal favourite film in the series and the characterisation isn’t as strong as it was in Rogue Nation or Ghost Protocol, this is still a great, visceral experience that I had a lot of fun with.
My Rating: 4/5