Mission: Impossible – Fallout review

With Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the 6th in the series, Tom Cruise puts together another charming, stunt-filled performance as Ethan Hunt.  While I see other people calling this movie the greatest action movie they’ve ever seen, or at least the best since Mad Max: Fury Road, I’m not certain I’m ready to heap that much praise onto this movie.  However, I do know that this is the action movie I want other actions movies to aspire to be.

Let’s start with the story.  The “fallout” referenced in the title has a double meaning. The first meaning is literal nuclear fallout. Solomon Lane’s “Syndicate” from Rogue Nation has been going out and doing their own thing after his capture.  Now they are called “The Apostles,” and being led by a mystery man named John Lark.  They are trying to get their hands on three plutonium cores which were stolen from Russia, and could be used to make nuclear bombs.  Ethan and Benji (Simon Pegg) pose as buyers in order to intercept the cores, but the mission fails when Ethan chooses to save Luthor’s (Ving Rhames) life, rather than leave the meeting with the cores.  Because of this failure, the CIA forces Ethan to accept CIA Agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) onto the team.  And of course, they butt heads on how to proceed, and the movie progresses from there.  Eventually, Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) is introduced, which causes more issues. The second meaning behind “fallout” deals with the fallout of Ethan Hunt’s actions, but that leads into some big spoilers, so we won’t venture down that path.

The rest of the story progresses in a predictable fashion.  The only people that are going to be surprised by any of the surprises are those in the theater watching their first Mission: Impossible movie.  This is the 6th movie in the series.  The face mask disguise reveal has been done way too much for anyone to be surprised when it happens.  And it is obvious when it is going to happen in Fallout.  That’s not to say that these are not fun moments, just don’t expect the unexpected.

Same thing goes for the villain reveal.  Don’t expect to be shocked when it is revealed who is the villain of the story.  Although, I feel like they knew this wasn’t going to surprise anyone, and kind of spoiled it in marketing.  Just to be certain you know who the villain is before the reveal, they throw out a gigantic clue that might as well scream, HEY, THIS GUY IS THE BAD GUY!!!  I don’t think it really lessens the enjoyment of the movie, again, just don’t expect the unexpected.

All of the actors play their parts well, which you’d expect since this is the core group’s fourth movie together.  Cavill is fine as Agent Walker.  The performance and character work for what’s required in this movie.  Not entirely certain how to describe the dynamic between Walker and Hunt in this movie.  I guess if it were a comedy, Walker would be the straight man, while Hunt is the funny man.  A by the book agent seems a bit too simplistic of a description, but it’ll have to do.

Now that the boring story stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about the real reason to see the movie.  These stunts are ridiculous.  In the good sense of the word.  Fallout does not disappoint on that front.  There’s a HALO jump, a motorcycle chase through Paris, and a helicopter chase.  All of which are real, practical stunts.  None of the CGI stuff.  And this is what I appreciate about these movies.  The action feels real because it is real.  It’s exciting when Ethan Hunt jumps out of an airplane, because Tom Cruise is actually jumping out of an airplane.  Let’s focus on the HALO jump for a moment.

HALO stands for High Altitude Low Opening.  In very uninformed, untechnical terms, you jump out of a plan that is really high, maybe above radar capabilities, and then don’t open your parachute until you are below a certain height, maybe below radar capabilities.  It’s not a simple process.  Hell, realistically, they could have just jumped out of a plan at a normal height and just said it was this special jump.  Most people wouldn’t notice.  But they didn’t.  When the camera shows the ground below them, they wanted that to look accurate.  But what really stands out to me is the beginning of this moment.  The camera is on Hunt’s face as he runs out of the cargo door of the airplane, and begins his descent.  Not on his back.  Not briefly on his face, and then cut to a far off shot as they transitioned from sound stage to on location.  No, you are looking at Cruise as he jumps out of a plane, and you stay with him long enough to see the plane getting farther and farther away.  It’s just a special moment that you don’t get to see very often.

If you liked the previous 3 Mission Impossible movies, I see no reason that you wouldn’t like this one.  I would suggest seeing it in theaters, to fully appreciate the massive scenes and action sequences.  There’s just something about the scale and immersion of a movie theater that makes seeing something like Mission: Impossible – Fallout worth it.  Although I will end with my wife was a bit disappointed that there was never any mention of Vault-tec in the movie.

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