Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout boils down to two defining takeaways. One: Ethan Hunt’s latest probably-not-literally-impossible assignment feels *every second* of its nearly 150-minute runtime. Two: action sequences hit harder than Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet haymaker. That cocked-and-locked forearms gif of Henry Cavill y’all have been virally enjoying *still* doesn’t adequately sell the big-stick-swingin’ attitude of this mile-a-minute espionage heart-racer. Planning gets complicated and scripted twists ball a knot of complexity, but you’d have to be a corpse not to enjoy the film’s “impossible” adrenaline rush. Which, I can only assume, is second to the giddiness Tom Cruise experiences when risking his life for another unforgettable stunt.
Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) latest objective, which he chooses to accept, is simple – recover three plutonium orbs before Solomon Lane’s (Sean Harris) remaining soldiers (referred to as The Apostles) can carry out their weaponized destruction. Things go according to plan for all of five minutes, then Hunt chooses to save partners Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) over securing his radioactive payload. IMF’s highly-combustible bounty vanishes into the night, so Secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) sends the team back into action…with a babysitter. CIA hardass Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) demands her most qualified fixer – August Walker (Henry Cavill) – tag along for insurance. Then MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) resurfaces. And there’s an underground broker codenamed White Widow (Vanessa Kirby)? Plus, how can you tell who’s who with IMF’s rubberized “Halloween” mask obsession?
Take a deep breath, abandon desires to dissect, and get ready for Mission: Impossible – Fallout to bring the motherflippin’ THUNDER. That’s why you’re here, and McQuarrie makes good by cranking “kickass” dials to 13 only to have Cavill punch ‘em all into oblivion.
Fallout’s chronology (surprisingly) picks up right where Rogue Nation left off. Lane’s syndicate – while he’s passed around in custody – has evolved into extreme radicalism and Hunt’s past relationships (Ilsa especially) come roaring back. Fallout is a ripple effect that spreads from Hunt’s decision to keep Lane alive, which McQuarrie uses to muster further hero development. Ethan Hunt keeps the world safe first and foremost, which is why once-wife/forever love Julia (Michelle Monaghan) had to leave. In this respect, Hunt’s shown as more than the laser-dodging, airplane-door-riding maniac who just “figures it out.” Human attributes crack his hardened outline, prodding a “softer” side by ensuring teammates live through ambushes unlike Cavill’s “leave no trace” professionalism. We see more of Hunt than normal, but it’s at a price.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout throws [insert exaggerated number] possible endpoints at audiences and elongates already inflated tactical designs with roadblocks galore. At minutes shy of two-and-a-half-hours, progression seems to be in a constant state of flux where double-crosses or three-steps-ahead admissions balk at “seeing is believing.” Everyone quietly stashes contingency breakdowns, along with last-ditch contingencies when the primary contingencies implode – and I get it. These are government-issue superspies who’d rather eat a bullet than fail. But McQuarrie’s incessant swerving forms a circular logic that cycles in repetitive motions. Admittedly, it’s easy enough to just give up and enjoy high-stakes beatdowns, but the unexpected becomes ordinary to the point of being stuck in a teasing bullets-and-interrogations purgatory.
Once you stop trying to guess who’s in on what, McQuarrie’s orchestrated overload of dodge-and-weave awesomeness is easy to appreciate. Camerawork may be fixated on Tom Cruise’s profile to remind the 50+-year-old does all his own crackpot stunts, but he’s not stealing any scenes. Henry Cavill is Cruise’s superior in every way, with his springy hair coils bouncing as Walker bodyslams targets through European nightclub mirrors. Rebecca Ferguson dodges traffic like Frogger 10.0 while motorcycling and gets some serious acrobatic air when forcing opponents to submit (aka choke out). And even Vanessa Kirby draws attention when she whips out a butterfly knife and instantly reminds us of Elizabeth Debicki as “White Widow” helps Hunt fight out of a crowded lounge bar jam-packed with greedy contract killers.
One shot where Ferguson, Cruise, Cavill and Kirby all exit a room after having just front-kicked and stabbed their way through danger – disheveled but still effortlessly polished – skipped my heart three beats. That superteam, sauntering unfazed and in unison, had me *begging* for more of their buddy-system assassinations. Bless Benji and Luther, but me-oh-my these four could topple entire monarchies if they wanted to.
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Alas, here’s my biggest issue: pitting Cavill and Cruise as frenemies who *might* tussle (yes, they do) is a wee bit far-fetched. Cruise puts other mid-50s actioners to shame, but Cavill is an Adonis. Brawn, scruff and unmovable body mass. In no way do I see them as direct competition, but let’s just say Mission: Impossible – Fallout takes laughable liberties.
Kirby pining over Cruise as she gets her kicks while they practically dance their way through action choreography? I buy it – their electric chemistry could power Chernobyl. All the witnessless rooms and pedestrian free walkways? Why not. But a worn-down Cruise going toe-to-toe with Superman for Krypton’s sake? No comparison. Cruise proves impressively capable be it tempting deadlier and deadlier stuntman fates or *still* saving the world in tight-black clothing, but Cavill’s casting is a step too far. He’s perfect for damn sure as an American cleaner with zero eraser protocol hesitation, just not believable for Cruise’s arch-whatever.
That said, Cavill’s go-time performance is handsomely glorious. Doubling down with Cruise to shatter bathroom stalls while trying to incapacitate a particularly feisty mark. Fighting on the side of a goshdang cliff after his helicopter goes all Jurassic Park by dropping down rock formations like Tim’s Explorer. Deadlocking his eyes, calculating morbid costs, or even cracking a joke after *almost dying* thanks to his own HALO jump stupidity. Angela Bassett thinks she can control her loyal pet, but Cavill’s heavy-gun-holder owns Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Tom Cruise isn’t the Ethan Hunt he once was, but that doesn’t stop…well, anything. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is still a decibel-shattering seismic burst of punch-into-gear entertainment from sophisticated brawling to speedster vehicle chases around such landmarks as France’s Arc de Triomphe. Cruise surrounds himself with a marketable supporting crew ready for however many lumps and bruises it takes, and that’s what Christopher McQuarrie should be most thankful for. Those who can tangle with Cruise and find common ground, even when physical imposition declares otherwise.
Might the franchise’s star be a bit long in the tooth for Ethan Hunt at this point? Given how worn-down and overmatched Mr. Impossible looks at times (while *still* pleasing crowds), I’d say he’s earned some relaxation and rights to produce a rebooted cast. For a last hurrah, Mission: Impossible – Fallout would be a notoriously noble bow.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout is cocked, locked and ready to blow you away with more than just Henry Cavill's forearms.