Mission: Impossible- Fallout isn’t just the perfect Mission: Impossible film, it’s pretty much everything you could ask an action movie to be. This is a franchise that has built itself on excellent craftsmanship from unique filmmakers, and a star that cares perhaps a little too much about giving the audience the most authentic movie possible. Fallout is the culmination of a twenty-two year odyssey of consistently outdoing our expectations. The staging and precision of the action is simply gorgeous; everything from the lighting to the majestic score to the dance-like choreography is so perfect in it’s composition that it’s almost difficult to simultaneously revel in the craftsmanship and lose oneself in the experience. It’s not that they don’t make them like this anymore- they don’t make them like this period.
Despite thwarting members of the Syndicate terrorist organization on a previous adventure, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is once again joined by Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) in order to stop the insane anarchist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) from possessing nuclear weapons. Hunt is begrudgingly paired with the brutish C.I.A. operative August Walker (Henry Cavill), but his duty to his mission is questioned by the appearance of old flame Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who has her own agenda. Perhaps the plot is derivative of other Mission: Impossible films, but Christopher McQuarrie knows when to key the audience into upcoming twists and when to genuinely surprise them. The logic is sound enough for the world McQuarrie has created, and there’s enough added stakes and complications added throughout to increase the unpredictability.
As always, the craftsmanship on display here is simply unparalleled. While the creative action setpieces and ludicrous stunts are a hallmark of the series, McQuarrie has brought a strange sense of beauty to the experience; the shots are gorgeous, and while some haunting dream sequences are beautifully realized, even the most visceral of action scenes look like portraits (a nightclub sequence in particular is striking its use of color). Each scene is filled with movement; there’s a direction and kinetic energy to each scene, with the action feeling both relentless and unpredictable. This is also a credit to how sharp McQuarrie’s script is; even the expositional scenes feel urgent, and there’s enough humor from these well rounded characters to give necessary tension breakers.
Of course, the other appeal of the Mission: Impossible films is the unmatched star power of Tom Cruise. One should look no further than Cruise’s extensive thirty year filmography to see that he is a great actor (I could name about twenty truly great films he’s starred in), but his power as a movie star is unique. Cruise has created a symbiotic relationship with his audience; he cares about the realism and authenticity of the stunts and emotions, and in turn, he cares about the audience, so seeing his effort makes him all the more exciting. Cruise has an electric presence onscreen, lighting up each scene with confidence and charisma, and the unrelenting character of Ethan Hunt is a perfect match for the tone of these films. Cruise is also backed by a great ensemble; Pegg, Rhames, and Ferguson work very well together, and there’s a lightning in a bottle magic of seeing them onscreen together that goes beyond the script.
Fallout isn’t a traditionally inventive film by the standards of plot mechanics, but there’s a deep love for the medium of film seen here that simply isn’t seen in other directors, stars, or franchises. Mission: Impossible has always been about realizing the incredulous and exciting, yet taking the time and effort to do so, and Fallout is a tribute to that spirit. I can’t say enough of the experience of seeing a film like this unravel, other than the obvious- this is why we go to the movies. Grade: A+