When watching an action film, I predominately measure my enjoyment with the amount of “oh s***” moments. Moments in the film where I’m in awe or disbelief of what is transpiring over the big screen. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, John Wick, The Raid, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Mad Max: Fury Road all come into mind when thinking about films that have various moments of “oh s***”. Mission: Impossible-Fallout can be added to that list of great action films, as it is one of the most action packed and stunt crazy films that is filled with airtight cinematography and intense action sequences to keep the audience on their toes through a 148 minute runtime.
The Mission Impossible franchise and Tom Cruise have a lot in common, but it starts with both aging like fine wine. After undoubtedly the worst installment with Mission: Impossible II, the franchise has been hellbent on raising the stakes and taking the stunts, action scenes and overall quality of the films up a notch each and every sequel. Like a fine wine, Tom Cruise has been willing to do stunts that no other action star in cinema would be even consider doing.
The screenplay, penned by M:I 5 writer-director Christopher McQuarrie who makes his return to the franchise is pretty standard and feels reminiscent to films in the past. Mission: Impossible- Fallout follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF team (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg) join forces unwillingly with CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) to prevent major terrorist attacks that would alter the world with epic proportions, with the ability to starve one-third of the world’s population. The unknown and mysterious arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on three of the most war riddled countries in the world.
Everytime I see Tom Cruise doing stunts, I always ask myself, why are you doing this to yourself? Tom Cruise is not and will never hurt for a dollar ever again in his life- so why does he continually risk his life in movies that should be done by actors 20 years younger than the 56 year old. Than I think back to the great action films in recent memory, the star does 90% of their stunts because it establishes a connection between the viewer and the film. Instead of portraying a superhero-esque figure, we see Ethan Hunt pushed into scenarios where he is consistently improvising after suffering brutal beatdowns and unfavorable scenarios. The vulnerability in Hunt’s character in Fallout separates himself from previous films and is reminiscent of Indiana Jones in his original trilogy, with a splash of the sleekness provided in the Bond films with espionage sequences reminiscent of a Jason Bourne film. Yes, that’s a lot of name dropping for one character, but my words cannot do justice for Cruise bringing his A game to the bigscreen for the sixth installment of his franchise.
Not to be outdone by Cruise, co-stars Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson all are shown doing some of their own stunts and as characters, hold their own and provide no weak links as an overall unit. Cavill in particular, playing the CIA assassin Walker is a welcomed edition to the franchise as he provides the “hammer” to Hunt’s “scalpel”, as described in the film. Cavill gets his moment to shine as an action star in a bathroom brawl, that is as grueling and brutal as a PG-13 film can get. Cavill is meant to be the ace in the sleeve by the CIA, brought into the fold to keep an eye on the IMF team, while pushing his own agenda and ready to shut things down if necessary.
Director/Writer Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise push each scene to it’s absolute limit, adding an unexpected sequence and flair in a way that feels fresh, so that you can never quite predict the end of an action sequence. In a film filled with bathroom brawls, helicopter chases, fist fights and roof top races, the visceral feeling that each sequence provides is only upped with a very minimal use of CGI, focusing on practical stunts and effects that allow for cinematographer Rob Hardy to find the perfect angles and wide angles to capture the action.
The action sequences are staged and choreographed with every intention to be rhythmic and in beat, with sound design that rattles the screen aided by a minimalistic but effective score and editing so smooth and precise that leaves you feeling as exhausted as our stars after the long, drawn out action scenes.
On two separate occasions in the film, the screen explodes into the IMAX ratio, which fans of any blockbuster franchise know is when the film throws out it’s budget and focuses on the craftsmenship at hand. With the widened length, purer colours and hyper realistic visuals, the IMAX wasn’t the only time I was reminded of Nolan during Mission: Impossible – Fallout. M:I6 has the perfect blend of every technical element that it takes to make a great action film, from editing to choreography all in service of a fantastic script and anchored by great action performances to transcend the genre, and becoming a great film overall.
Fallout is a rare breed as it is one of the very few genre pieces that works whether you pay attention to the plot or not, but if you do follow the plot (which is convoluted to the point where you must focus on every line in the film), it is much more enjoyable. In it’s entirety, It is one of the most streamlined and fast-paced films in Hollywood history, moving from one set piece to the next and uses the plot as a segway to these gargantuan action sets.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it is to go on a joy ride consisted of A- list stars headlined by Tom Cruise in an action packed film that does not stop at any moment. This mission will self destruct in five,four,three,two.