In a summer jam-packed with mediocre, factory-made action vehicles, regurgitated for no other purpose than to milk the wallets of the masses — I’m looking at you Mr Dwayne Johnson — comes an action dynamite to liberate us all. A film where the boom will keep you at the edge of your seats and the bang will leave you breathless. Rian Johnson wasn’t f*cking around when he said, “nobody is doing action scenes on the same planet as Christopher Mcquarrie.” Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a near chef-d’œuvre and McQuarrie is a force to be reckoned with.
Besides Mad Max: Fury Road, which is helmed by a God, George Miller, this is perhaps the best pure action film of the decade (I’ll throw in John Wick in the mix too). Here’s a film that shows you that action movies don’t have to be throwaway movies. That action movies can be **insert French accent and take a puff out of a pipe** films too. That explosions and insane stunts (and believe me when I say, the stunts are INSANE), can do more for a moviegoer than switch off their brains. It can be more. Much much more.
Before we get to the pretty decent plot, let’s talk about the epicness of it all. The badassery in this movie will make the badassery in the Fast & Furious franchise look like Spongebob and Tinkie Winkie are engaging in a cute game of pillow-fisticuffs. Where do I even begin? This movie has it all. Fights in toilets, fights in hidden tunnels, fights ON cliffs, fights in helicopters. There is one scene where Tom Cruise runs and jumps and catches a rope that’s attached to a moving chopper, climbs up, falls down, climbs up again, beats the shit out of two men, takes control of the vehicle and then holy shit it’s madness I tell ya! We also have car and motorcycle chase sequences. And if all those aren’t enough to get your adrenaline pumping, at one point, the 56-year-old Tom Cruise (yeah you read that right, buddy. FIFTY-SIX!), does a HALO jump without a stunt double and without CGI, at which point your buttocks are clenched so tight, it needs an oxygen mask by the end of it.
But it’s not just about the stunts. You can search WTF stunts on YouTube and watch a plethora of adrenaline junkies cheating death over and over and over again. But what makes the action in Mission: Impossible – Fallout awesome is the way it is brought to life from script to screen by Christopher McQuarrie — weighted and tense — and the way it is lensed by cinematographer Rob Hardy — slick and elegant. This movie is gorgeous right down to the tiniest of detail. Observe the way the motorcycle chase sequences are framed and the way Tom Cruise glides his foot a mere inch away from the ground every time he makes a turn on the bike. Absolutely stunning imagery! I watched this film on IMAX and had my jaw on the floor for almost the entirety of its runtime.
Anyway, now that we’ve got the action out of the way, we should talk about the plot. If you’ve seen a Mission: Impossible movie you’ll know the gist. There is a mission, should he choose to accept — of course he does. There’s a subplot revolving around the potential shutting down of the IMF. And there are moments where Tom Cruise has to get out of seemingly impossible situations. This much we know. But McQuarrie’s writing keeps things fresh. The screenplay is witty and smart. It is filled with twists and turns, but never does it get convoluted. McQuarrie even does a great job in bringing the entire franchise full circle. How he does it, I will not spoil, but let’s just say that if Tom Cruise wanted to retire from making Mission: Impossible films, this would be the perfect time. Of course, that isn’t going to happen, just like how Fast & Furious is still ongoing despite the beautiful Furious 7 ending.
Tom Cruise is a lot of things. We’ve heard tales of how much of a prick he was on the set of The Mummy, bossing the director around, changing the screenplay as he pleases and turning what is supposed to be a monster movie into a Tom Cruise vehicle. But there’s no denying his relentless passion for these Mission: Impossible movies (probably because they’re all designed to stroke his ego). Despite being in six of these films already, Cruise still puts everything on the line here. Not just in terms of being completely, undoubtedly, 100% absolutely mental when it comes to the stunts, but also through his presence, charisma and dramatic acting chops (there are some). I believe everything he says and everything he does in these movies, in THIS movie especially.
The rest of the cast do a good job as well. Just like in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Rebecca Ferguson is on fire. There is just something about her, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Is it her physicality? Is it her charisma? Or is it her eyes? Those eyes that seem to channel so much emotion, so much pain. She is slowly becoming one of my favourite actresses working today. And if there is anyone that’s capable of taking over Cruise’s spot in this franchise, it’s her. Nevermind, scratch that. Nobody in their right mind is going to scale the Burj Khalifa and do a HALO jump other than Cruise. The other remaining supporting cast all have their roles to play as well. It’s great that the likes of Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames aren’t just comic relief sidekicks, but play an integral role in the world saving. That you buy their friendship and camaraderie is a bonus.
The same, unfortunately, can’t be said about Henry Cavill’s character, August Walker. There is nothing obscenely wrong with the character in and of itself. And there’s nothing particularly amiss with Cavill’s performance, as well. It just seems a waste to cast Cavill in the role, and not let his personality shine through, as we see in Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Here, Cavill is mostly just muscle. A physical presence and a famous face for Tom Cruise to brawl. Though the brawls themselves are bloody brilliant, it’s still a damn shame that McQuarrie didn’t pen a more dynamic and interesting character for him to play.
The tried and tested formulaic plot and the underutilisation of Henry Cavill as an actor bump Mission: Impossible – Fallout down a couple of notches. But I can deal with that. I can deal with that because of the awesomeness of everything else. Here, McQuarrie has announced himself to the world as a director to watch (if he didn’t already do that with Rogue Nation). But it isn’t just his work as a helmer, but the team he’s working with. From cinematographer Rob Hardy, editor Eddie Hamilton (Kingsmen) to the gripping score by Lorne Balfe, all of them deserve applause. Take a bow!
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Mission: Impossible - Fallout
In a summer jam-packed with mediocre, factory-made action vehicles, regurgitated for no other purpose than to milk the wallets of the masses, comes an action dynamite to liberate us all. Mission: Impossible - Fallout is a near chef-d'œuvre and McQuarrie is a force to be reckoned with.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout