Stunts, Stunts and – Stunts. The only way to begin a review about this film, in my opinion, is with those three simple words.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the latest insertion in the Mission: Impossible series and is directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Jack Reacher, and the brilliant The Way of the Gun) – the first return director for the series – and stars the never-slowing-down-no-matter-how-old-he-is Tom Cruise as series hero Ethan Hunt. Fallout follows Hunt and the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team and some other allies as they attempt to track down a mysterious villain known only as John Lark.
Fallout is an action movie fans wet dream – jam packed with guns – and not just any guns: small guns, big guns and huge guns. It has fights – with even IMF director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) getting in on the action. It has chases – in fact the single best motorcycle/car chase ever put to film in my opinion.
And it has stunts. Tom Cruise is notorious for performing his own stunts and here is no exception. In the previously mentioned motorcycle/car chase he rode against traffic in Paris without the safety of a helmet. He spent an entire year practising a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) skydive. He jumped across buildings (and broke an ankle in the process), as well as piloting a helicopter during another chase. If that is not dedication I don’t know what is. Cruise may get the short end of the stick when it comes to the media, but he really knows how to entertain. Not only is Cruise a great entertainer, he is a brilliant actor – you only need to look at his early films such as Risky Business, Born on the Fourth of July and Rain Man to see his versatility as an actor.
Along for the ride is Ving Rhames – the only other actor to appear in all 6 films – as Luthor Stickell. Rhames is a great actor and does not drop the ball here. He brings emotion to the film, while also displaying the urgency the action and his character require. He is fantastic. As is Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn –the second-best performance behind Cruise himself. He not only has the ability to deliver some serious work, but he has some of the best comic timing in the business. Pegg was so invested in the film that he even hit the gym to great effect – his on set nickname was Eight-pack Peggles. Rebecca Ferguson makes an appearance as Ilsa Faust and her performance to begin with is, generally speaking, a bit weak. But as the film goes and her characters motivations seem to evolve she gets stronger in her performance.
Henry Cavill is the newcomer here as CIA agent August Walker. Walker’s involvement is due to a dispute between the CIA and the as to who gets John Lark when he is captured. Unfortunately, Cavill is the (performance wise) weak link in the film. His DC role as Superman does not require for him to provide much other than a sculpted physique and the end result of those films have seen a bland and expressionless performance. The same can be said here. He is more tank than man, but that isn’t everything. Granted there wasn’t too many scenes where he needed to show anything other than a stone-cold stare but a bit more sentiment and tone would have been great. Cruise is always able to display emotion through the simplest or the grandest of gestures. His experience is telling. Hopefully, with time, Cavill will grow as an actor and be able to match his on-screen counterpart.
In my notes for the film I wrote “action at is finest, plot at its worst”. The story, as it unfolds is completely ridiculous. The Impossible Mission Force is one of the unluckiest (or luckiest) organizations ever conceived – depending on how you look at it. Ethan and the team have experienced so many things go wrong since the first film to this film that it is amazing that Ethan Hunt hasn’t kicked the bucket…oh wait, he did that in number 3 and number before being revived but somehow, they always seem to get the chicken dinner.
In Fallout one thing after another goes wrong. The worst occurring right at the outset – Hunt and Dunn are trading money for plutonium, but things go against plan. They find themselves pinned down outside a tunnel entrance by an unseen enemy and are told “you’ve got nowhere to go, leave the plutonium and walk away”. Things get worse as Luthor is taken hostage. After some tech mastery from Benji, Ethan drops the plutonium and Dunn and Hunt go in to save Luthor. The enemy has mysteriously disappeared and the plutonium (which they left just behind them) is also nowhere to be found. The absolute worst part of the scene is that the entire IMF team is ripe for the taking and the enemy (an utterly ruthless terrorist group) just leave. Why would this unseen foe simply not just kill them? It makes zero narrative sense at all and is completely frustrating. The scene was terribly written, as it was obviously going to go wrong. Things not going Hunt’s way have become a little tired at this stage, but let’s not forget what this film series is – it’s Mission Impossible. It’s getting in a tough spot and pulling off the impossible. If it went well, then, it wouldn’t be impossible.
Christopher McQuarrie, who also wrote the film, does a great job with the direction. He has produced a fast paced, high octane action film that doesn’t let up until the end credits. The stunt team (Tom Cruise included) should also stand up and take a bow, they will surely be acknowledged at whatever stunt awards there are out there, as well as add to the conversation that stunt teams should have their own category at the Oscars.
Aside from the opening sequence, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the best action films to have ever been put together. Do like Tom Cruise – run to see this .
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie