Few would have anticipated it back when it kicked off in 1996 but the Mission Impossible series has turned out to be one of Hollywood’s most profitable properties. The first film, directed by Brian De Palma was audacious in its approach to action set pieces, chase sequences and the use of its magnetic star, at the time, the biggest in the world.
Six movies in and the Mission Impossible franchise still takes itself seriously enough to try to outdo the last one in terms of sheer scale and breadth of the thrills generated. Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt and his team of trusted Impossible Missions Force (IMF) soldiers- played by Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg- are still very much interested in the common good, saving a deeply complicated and sometimes terrifying world. But that doesn’t mean that the world is deserving of their heroic efforts.
According to the screenplay, credited to Christopher McQuarrie, Hunt is the rare operative who is as invested in saving the one life as he is in saving millions. This do-good nature of his earns instinctively makes Hunt a suspicious entity among his colleagues, not the least of whom is Erica Sloane, the formidable CIA head honcho herself, played with confidence by the formidable Angela Basset. It is also responsible for the inciting incident, the mission which Ethan Hunt must choose to accept, a high stakes purchase of the valuable resource, plutonium from some underworld figures. Needless to say that all does not go according to plan and soon Hunt and his team are chasing down a highly sophisticated team of terrorists who style themselves as the apostles.
Fallout has all the elements that have worked about the series, all raised to the nth power. Its all overkill. The masks, the guns, the wild stunts and the people. No one hands out Oscars for films like these but Tom Cruise’s willingness to expend energy and resources in a bid to outrun and outstunt himself with every film deserves special commendation. The man is almost 60years of age but shows no signs of aging or slowing down as he pushes his body, parachuting from airplanes, jumping atop moving helicopters and battling hypothermia in the mountains of Asia.
Christopher McQuarrie, a regular Tom Cruise collaborator is the first director in the franchise to return for a second helping and no one will accuse him of not putting in the work. Even when the running time is well over two hours, Fallout is never boring, the pace never slacks as the action moves from one country to the other. Set up as a follow up to 2015’s Rogue Nation, some characters from previous entries make a comeback while director McQuarrie links some details going back to the first film.
The fight scenes are tightly choreographed and even more expertly edited. One of them, a threesome in a Paris toilet is at once beautiful and ugly and may likely be the most indelible image of Fallout. A tall order too as the film is filled with similar striking moments.
Henry Cavill joins the franchise- this time complete with his mustache- as an operative with questionable loyalty, providing some yang to Cruise’s ying. Tom Cruise is the undeniable star of Fallout as every scene is a testament to his flexibility and ability to out movie star every other movie star out there.
He knows this franchise so well and is custom built for it that every scene glows just because he is in it. The supporting players also get shine time. Rebecca Ferguson as MI6 agent Ilsa made such an impression in Rogue Nation that she was invited back. She gets some terrific moments but as a whole, isn’t quite the presence she was in the earlier film.
Fallout has everything for every kind of viewer; wild action, genuine suspense, death defying stunts, human drama, ruthless double crossing, one or two love stories and the endless thrill of watching Tom Cruise be his best self. What’s not to love?