Synopsis – Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
My Take – In a general sense, the sixth installment of a franchise usually tends to run out of ideas with the story lines seemingly repeating itself and the characters seemingly dried out. However like the Fast and Furious franchise, the Mission Impossible series has been one of the few to negate that statement. With the release of the Brian De Palma directed first directed film back in 1996 entertaining action fans and Tom Cruise fans alike, it was inevitable that a sequel would be made. While I do think personally, that the 2000 sequel directed by John Woo could have easily sunk the franchise easily, thankfully the 2006 released J.J. Abrams directed third installment revitalized the franchise in terms of character and story which was well followed by the monstrously successfully 2011 film directed Brad Bird and 2015 film directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
Based on the classic TV series (1966-73) created by Bruce Geller, this film also marks the return of Christopher McQuarrie on the director chair as well, making him the first director to come back for a sequel following the excellent Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), and with of course in the lead, the ageless, riveting and seemingly unstoppable, Tom Cruise as the force of nature, Ethan Hunt. While Rogue Nation proved how with a great cast, crew, director and writers, sequels and series can progress the story well, this sixth installment easily takes the franchise to yet another level.
Not only is the film well written, it has some of the best action sequence I have seen in a long time, with each scene pushing Cruise‘s body to the limit and sometimes even breaking point. Paired with deft character drama and the requisite life-or-death stakes, here, director McQuarrie weaves elements of tragedy and political commentary into this action packed crime thriller that adds more akin than your typical blockbuster.
Picking up two years after the events of Rogue Nation, the story follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who is back working as an IMF field agent and is handed over a mission to stop, a group known as the Apostles, the remaining members of the Syndicate, the anti IMF, formed by the now captured Soloman Lane (Sean Harris). While the CIA has been busy taking them down, a few remaining members are looking to purchase three orbs of plutonium in order to create three nuclear bombs, all under the guidance of the mysterious John Lark, who Hunt and his team must stop from carrying out his insane manifesto.
However the mission goes awry when Hunt and Benji (Simon Pegg) chooses to save their team mate, Luther (Ving Rhames), than protect the briefcase containing the plutonium. Despite receiving criticism over his actions, IMF Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) chooses to select Hunt and his team to continue on the mission to find Larke, by going through the mysterious White Widow (Vanessa Kirby). But CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) does not share the same faith as him, as insists they are joined by her ‘heavy hitter’ August Walker (Henry Cavill) along for the ride, that moves from Belfast to Paris to London to then Kashmir. Complicating matters, MI-6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), has also returned but with her own agenda that may interfere with Hunt’s mission.
Here, writer and director Christopher McQuarrie‘s motive is simple – leave the Action buffs overwhelmed and he does! Slightly darker and more mature in tone than the previous ones, this film is exactly as thrilling as you hope it will be! Here, director Christopher McQuarrie along with co-writer by Bruce Geller, provide arguably the most well written film yet, as the film has heart, humor, a surprisingly dense and complex story and of course, the edge-of-your-seat action this franchise is known for. You don’t necessarily need to have seen the previous films to follow this, but it will certainly help you keep up with the story a little easier since there are lots of references to past films, old missions, and character story lines especially with Michelle Monaghan‘s role as Julia Meade-Hunt. In fact, there is quite a bit of retconning/revisiting story moments from past films, tying the franchise from five different directors and even more writers into a neat little six-film package that jives. Seeing this film will almost want to make you go back and re-watch the previous ones anyway, so maybe a refresher is in order before seeing this.
While the majority of the plot is pretty straight and narrow in regards to a spy thriller, the victory comes in seeing a few of the characters get unclassified. It’s fantastic growth that the series needed that managed to get integrated well. In addition, the story manages to bend from the linear presentation, resulting in a little more excitement to be had. While the previous two films focused on Hunt’s IMF team working without much support, or on their own altogether, this film brilliantly balances this recent direction for the franchise, with a lot of characters improvising when needed, all the while never forgetting the cool set-ups where Hunt and his team are actually a step ahead, at times, more akin to the first few films. In this way, it feels original enough compared to Rogue Nation, while using the same villain and involving nuclear weapons for the second time in the franchise.
Agreed, the plots of the series of film often tend to be convoluted but negligible, really only there to provide connective tissue between jaw-dropping set pieces, and this sequel is no exception; tracking who has the weapons-grade MacGuffin when can feel like an exercise in futility. But part of the film’s nonstop fun is the way director McQuarrie taps back into the genre’s (and this series’) games of subterfuge, misdirection, and indeterminate loyalties, beginning with the fiendishly clever rug-pull of its worst-case-scenario prologue and epitomized by the goofily irresistible sight of characters dramatically ripping off lifelike rubber masks. For a while, the biggest question mark of allegiance is August Walker, the brutish CIA tagalong feeding his superiors the theory that Hunt may really be going rogue after years of being left out in the cold by his handlers. Using the amusingly unreliable support of IMF as a plot point counts as one of the script’s most self-aware choices.
Amidst all the mayhem there is also enough time to explore Ethan’s human side as we learn what motivates him to be the super spy he is today. While always been twisty and spectacular, something special happened with the fourth film, in particular with the Burj Khalifa sequence. In an era where Hollywood action choreography has become simultaneously more extravagant and less involving, here was a man hanging off the side of a very tall building, suddenly, suddenly this series wasn’t just the best action money could buy, it was also the most fun you could have at the films, hereby reinventing the genre on a whole.
While action films come and go, this one takes the genre ahead with ferocity. There are some outstanding set pieces in the film, with extraordinarily spectacular shots from a ‘halo jump’ and a dramatic helicopter finale. But it is some of the smaller stuff that really impresses: the hand-to-hand combat, a dramatic edge-of-the-seat car and motorbike chase through central Paris is one of the most impressive and terrifying things I’ve seen on film well since the last M.I. film. Even though there is a familiarity to some, they are executed in a way that it feels fresh and are still quite impressive; and yes, Cruise, now in his mid-50, still performs his own stunts. This includes the leap between buildings where he actually suffered a broken ankle, shutting down production for a few months.
The jump where he was injured is included in the film. And fear not, the Cruise sprint is in full force on numerous occasions. Here, director McQuarrie, also adds a scene with Cruise dangling from a helicopter, and climbing a rock despite grievous injuries, all pushing Cruise‘s body and the imagination of stunt designers to the limits. Along with superb cinematography by Rob Hardy and a surprisingly fresh sounding score by Lorne Balfe, everything about my experience of this film was nothing short being utterly impressed. It’s not very often that I find myself praising a film for being near perfect on a technical level, as well as story and action, but this one did it for me. The only real flaw I can point out is that some of the supporting characters, unlike the previous two, get somewhat relegated in the third act.
However none of if it matters when Tom Cruise is gracing the screen. It’s been 22 years since the first Mission Impossible film hit the theaters, and Cruise hasn’t changed much. At the age of 56, the actor not only performs his own stunts, he is still so enduring in his role that you would hardly think of any other actor doing the part of Ethan Hunt. He is ready to risk his life for the entertainment of his fans and film lovers. Every time he takes the risk meter a notch above the earlier one. Be it hanging the cliff, leaping between buildings, boarding a flying helicopter he is the man of action. He is just awesome, to be precise. ‘Man of Steel‘ Henry Cavill is a welcome addition to the series and honestly probably steals the film with his reloaded fists. The bathroom fight scene is easily one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen. It was great to see him get his teeth into a different type of role.
Rebecca Ferguson is again outstanding as Faust and as a newcomer in a similar role Vanessa Kirby also impresses. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg make a nice double act and provide most of the laughs to inject, sometimes literally, some light relief into the proceedings. Sean Harris is excellent once again with his calm yet menacing talk. Michelle Monaghan will make you miss her character, while Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett make brief, but arresting appearances. On the whole, ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘ is an exhilarating action roller-coaster ride that leaves you spell-bound with its thrill, wit and intensity.
Directed – Christopher McQuarrie
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 147 minutes