TL;DR – Heart pounding, electric, bombastic, edge of seat, high octane, adrenaline rush, these are all things I would use to describe Fallout.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
When I think back to 1996 when the first Mission: Impossible film came out all those years ago I can remember it being enthralling and as it was one of the first big action films I ever saw in the cinemas that opening mission still holds a special place in my personal cinematic history. However, I didn’t think I would still be talking about these films over twenty years later, I mean there were a lot of great action films in the 1990s but few if any have had the same persistence as Mission: Impossible. Now to be fair, not every film in the series has been a gem, and I even stopped watching after a while, but people told me I should catch the last entry into the franchise with Rogue Nation (see review) and I really enjoyed it. Well, jump forward to 2018 and the director/writer of that last film Christopher McQuarrie is back for a second jump into this world of spies. With this in mind, I had high hopes that they could continue the good work here, and I am so happy to say that they did.
So to set the scene, at the end of the last film Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), lead agent of the IMF (that is the Impossible Missions Force, not the International Monetary Fund), finally captured Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) a rogue MI6 agent and head of the Syndicate an organisation looking to bring the current world order crashing down. In the years since capturing the leader the Syndicate has not fallen as expected and a core group of lieutenants called the Apostles have been causing chaos across the world as guns for hire. All of this reaches a tipping point when a disgruntled Norwegian Nuclear Weapons expert Nils Debruuk (Kristoffer Joner) who was fired due to his anti-religious views was about to obtain three nuclear weapons-grade plutonium cores. Hunt’s mission, if he chooses to accept it, is, along with team members Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), to intercept the handoff of the Plutonium and bring it to safety. Which of course all falls apart when the agents of the Apostles arrive and Hunt is forced to choose between saving his team or the mission. He picks his team and in the cross-fire, the plutonium cores are stolen. Cut to two weeks later and we discover the damage to the world that decision made.
The first thing I want to talk about with a film like this is the action, because well, it is an action film falling in that spy genre where grand films like James Bond and Jason Bourne live. Now if you have ever watched a single Mission: Impossible film before in your life the one thing you can be sure about is that Tom Cruise is going to do some crazy stunt like hanging on the side of a cargo plane as it takes off, and Fallout is no exception. Seriously, whoever negotiates the insurance for these films must be the best of the business. Here we get car chases, gun shootouts, brawls, and so many action set pieces that I thought the film was going to finish at the end of what turned out to be the second act because that had to be the biggest action set piece of the film, and then the film goes nope because we got this other one here that outdoes everything else we have done so far. One of the reasons the action hits as much as it does is that the film takes the time to hold on the action. So we follow Ethan as he runs, and runs, and runs, oh and jumps out of buildings, planes, and well just multiple modes of transport. However, to add to that, it is clear that a lot of work has gone on in pre-production to make the most of every moment of action, and filming the action mostly in the practical realm (not completely) really gives those scenes more weight.
The other thing the film does really well and which enhances the action is how it manages tension. This is done through a number of ways but to talk about some of these will mean touching on the story a bit so from this point onwards there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead. The first way they manage the tension is through how they tell the story, there are a lot of false reveals, and potential futures presented which puts you a little on edge because you wonder when it is not going to reset back. The other way is how the film is edited together, each action sequence is allowed to build to a crescendo as all the looming figures come into place. Also, there is a lot of set up and reward that help reinforce the characters, like how after everything Hunt does to spare French policemen’s lives one accidentally stumbles upon them as they are about to leave. Now, of course, all of this works because of a brilliant musical score by Lorne Balfe. In the opening moments of the film we get rolling drums to cue us into the rollercoaster that is about to happen and it just goes from there. I think the highlight for me was how he used a combination of the strings with a deep rumbling brass as we walk towards the coming brawl. He also cleverly uses the Mission: Impossible motif throughout the film sometimes in a clear and upfront way, but also sometimes just hinting at it. For example, I can write da da dar, and that theme instantly pops into your head, but you can hint at that famous sound by having that three note fall but incorporating it in different ways. Also, I would not be surprised to see a Sound Mixing Oscar nomination heading their way.
When it comes to the story, I did have some concerns at the start of the film when they were describing Hunt’s mission, because I got some real flashbacks to Spectre (see review) that suffocated under the weight of its own mythology. However, here while there is a real reverence to the past it never gets in the way of propelling the film forward. Part of this is because there are multiple threads happening along in the film you have Hunt and his team, the Apostles, the CIA watching over everything, the broker White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) and also Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) hunting something. As well as this, as we progress throughout the story at no point does it lose its coherence, it is a movie where you can HALO dive through a thunderstorm onto the roof of a rave that you are about to infiltrate and it all works up to and including a full-on brawl in a toilet that I have not seen at this level since maybe True Lies. Also, as long as you have never researched nuclear weapons before all the small things seem to all lineup. There is maybe one moment where the fact that nearly every woman in the movie instantly falls in love with Ethan Hawk does grind everything to a halt, but it rolls right back into the flow. The ensemble cast at this point works so well together that it is really great to watch them interact with each other, which helps land those comedic moments that lighten the film. Also, it was good to see that contrast between say Ethan Hunt’s scalpel approach compared to August Walker’s (Henry Cavill) hammer, oh and also hello there the most expensive moustache in movie history. Look, every member of the cast is game for everything that is both literally and metaphorically thrown on them, and that is just amazing to watch.
In the end, do we recommend Mission: Impossible – Fallout? Yes, yes we do. The characters are great, the action is thrilling, they are telling an interesting story, and there is a level of quality to the set construction, locations, cinematography, well everything really that makes it a delight to watch. Also you can tell how much faith they had with the film with how much they showed in the opening credits, and you have to love that kind of power move.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Directed by – Christopher McQuarrie
Written by – Christopher McQuarrie
Based on – Mission: Impossible created by Bruce Geller
Music by – Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by – Rob Hardy
Edited by – Eddie Hamilton
Starring – Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Vanessa Kirby, Wes Bentley, Kristoffer Joner & Frederick Schmidt with Wolf Blitzer
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13