Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018) Review
THIS IS ONE MISSION YOU’ll
WANT TO ACCEPT
The Mission Impossible franchise has had a lengthy road, stretching from the small screen (all the way back from 1966 to 1973) to the big screen in 1996, with the release of the first film (i.e. Mission Impossible) and introducing the spy riddled world of character Ethan Hunt (played by actor Tom Cruise) to moviegoers everywhere. While the first movie, which grossed over $450 million and receive praise from critics, its’ two follow-up sequels Mission Impossible II in 2000 and Mission Impossible III in 2006, were faced with mixed reviews, but were still deemed commercial success at the box office. Perhaps the world wasn’t ready for another spy installment with Cruise’s Hunt and his fellow operatives. That was until 2011 when Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the fourth entry in the franchise, exploded into theaters. In a nutshell, director Brad Bird seem to breathing new life into the series with Ghost Protocol and rejuvenated the Mission Impossible brand name with more high-flying action stunts, visual vigor, and (possibly) a better narrative than the two previous sequels. The film went on to gross close to $649 million at the box office (the highest grossing Mission Impossible movie in the franchise) as well as the fifth highest grossing movie in 2011. With Mission’s mojo back (and positive praise from critics and the public), a fifth entry in the series materialized in 2015 with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The movie, which was directed by Christopher McQuarrie, continued the on-going trend from Ghost Protocol in being more a high-action spy adventure with visuals and stunts and with (of course) Cruise once again returning as Ethan Hunt. Rogue Nation, much like its predecessor film, gained positive reviews and garnished roughly $680 million at the box office, becoming the second-highest grossing in the film series and the eighth highest grossing feature film in 2015. Now, nearly three years later, Paramount Pictures and returning director Christopher McQuarrie gear up for the sixth installment in the franchise with the movie Mission Impossible: Fallout. Does this latest entry in Ethan Hunt’s cinematic saga continue the positive remarks from the recent previous installments or is it time to retire the infamous IMF agent and the film series along with it?
Two years have passed since former MI6 agent-turned criminal mastermind Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) was thwarted and captured by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team. However, “The Syndicate”, the global crime network organization that Lane founded, has remained active and a radical faction of its members and rebranded themselves “The Apostles”. The group has since set a terrible plan in motion, which involves the acquisition of three missing spheres of plutonium, with the idea of using them to create nuclear bombs, in order to exact revenge on Lane’s capture and usher in the “great suffering” onto the world. Thus, Ethan and his associates, including IMF agents Benjamin “Benji” Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), to try and procure the stolen plutonium on the black market, before The Apostles can get their hands on it. However, when the mission goes wrong, Ethan is forced to make hard choice and ends up losing his chance to obtain the plutonium in the process. This results in IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) to send Ethan and his team to try and collect the plutonium from an infamous black-market dealer, known as The White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), but not before CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) intervenes and insists that her top operative August Walker (Henry Cavill) join Hunt’s team on the mission. To make matters worse, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Ethan’s former ally, emerges from the shadows and get caught up in all this for her own reasons. With the clock ticking, it’s up to Ethan and his team to prevent The Apostles from carrying out their nefarious plans.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
The Mission Impossible movies have always been a favorite of mine. Of course, the original 1996 film is still probably my personal favorite one (I didn’t really know of or I’ve seeing any of the old TV show from that point), so I went into the movie fresh and really didn’t expect any pre-existing knowledge / opinions on it. Much like what I said above, I thought that the first two sequels (Mission Impossible II and III), I thought they were just okay. Not really great, but not really bad either. I don’t know…. I just couldn’t get into them (even today) as mark them the weaker points of the franchise. Perhaps it was for the reason why the Mission Impossible franchise sort of went quiet for several years until 2011 when Ghost Protocol was released. From there, the Mission Impossible entered a sort of “rebirth” as the overall change in direction of these films took place, finding Ghost Protocol to be more a large set-piece of a Mission Impossible film, which consist of more thrilling action, visual stunts, and (quite possibly) a better and engaging story to tell for a narrative. This movement seemed to put the Mission Impossible franchise back on everyone’s movie radar (including myself) and the following film (i.e. Rogue Nation) continued that trend, further cementing this idea style of filmmaking for these spy action adventure films. Also, it helped that actor Tom Cruise continued to be a part of this franchise from the beginning (and several others), keeping a sort of continuity / familiarity to each of the film’s proceedings. All in all, the Mission Impossible film series has evolved and for the better in my opinion.
Now, the time has come to rewrite a new entry in Ethan Hunt’s saga of spy heroics and saving the day nuances with Mission Impossible: Fallout, which is the sixth and latest installment in the long running franchise. Given the fact that this movie was announced early on (roughly around the same time that Rogue Nation was being released), I was pretty excited to see where Mission Impossible 6 would take the franchise. Then (to be honest), I completely forgot about the movie. Well, to be fair, it has been three years between the two films and actor Tom Cruise has been in several in-between that timeframe. Of course, all the reports of Tom Cruise doing his crazy stunts (during the production of Fallout) made headline news on different media outlets, which again peaked my interest in seeing Fallout. After that, the film’s two trailers (the first trailer for the movie was released during Super Bowl LII) definitely caught my attention, showcasing a lot of the movie’s highlights and appealed to my interest, especially seeing some familiar faces on the screen (both new and old to the franchise). Thus, I was really excited to see Mission Impossible: Fallout during its opening weekend, especially after hearing a lot positive reviews and feedback from advance screenings of the film. So…. what did I think of it? Well, for once (in a long time) the movie lived up to its own inherit hype as Mission Impossible: Fallout succeeds in being a thrilling and entertaining action movie as well as a continuation from what began back in 2015’s Rogue Nation. It may not be the best installment in the franchise (some will argue that it is), but the movie is still a terrific addition in both the Mission Impossible cinematic saga and in recent popcorn blockbuster flicks.
Returning to the director’s chair is Christopher McQuarrie, whose previous directorial works include Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (of course) as well as The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher. Thus, given his run with Rogue Nation (and the success it had), McQuarrie feels like a perfect fit in helming Fallout. To be honest, he actually has improved on his directorial capabilities in helming such a large action blockbuster feature such as a Mission Impossible movie. While I do love Rogue Nation, the movie did have a few pacing problems and lack a sort of finesse that Ghost Protocol was able to achieve. Thus, McQuarrie has learned from his mistakes and refined his skills in making Fallout better than Rogue Nation, but still honoring the film that came before it. In truth, perhaps one of my favorite aspects of Fallout is the fact that it’s more of an aftermath follow-up adventure to what happened in Rogue Nation (i.e. a plot to rescue Solomon Lane from captivity, the members of the Syndicate creating havoc in Lane’s absence, the reappearance of Ilsa Faust, etc.). Thus, the “cause and effect” of what happened at the end of Rogue Nation carries over into this movie, which acts as a continuation narrative to what began back in 2015; a tactic which hasn’t been utilized in the Mission Impossible franchise. Additionally, it’s not just to Rogue Nation that Fallout ties to, but to some of the subplot in Mission Impossible III (most notably with the characters of Ethan Hunt and Julia Meade-Hunt). All of this results in a movie that deeply connected in his previous films past and feels a part of something greater rather than just a standard solo standalone installment by just carrying the brand name of the franchise.
Adding to that endeavor, while McQuarrie does direct the film, he also penned the film’s script as well. While that might sound a bit much (sometimes movies where the movie is direct and penned by the same person can be a bit of a disaster), McQuarrie has also proven himself to be a capable film screenplay writer, with such films as Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow, and (of course) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. I guess he can add Fallout to that list as well. To his credit, McQuarrie crafts a solid narrative for Fallout, weaving elements that are both new to the franchise (being more of direct sequel to the film that proceeds it) as well as some of the classic aspects that one would expect from a Mission Impossible movie, especially the more recent ones. Also, in terms of action and story-driven paths, Fallout follows in the same cinematic caliber as Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, with plenty of emphasis on high octane action thrills and visual spectacle of various exotic locations and ridiculous stunts. Still, its not all action, gunfights, and brawling, as McQuarrie keeps the story grounded in its spy covert world that the series is known for, but just “ups the ante” a bit more with its large-scale broadness of its set pieces and action sequences, which I loved. Basically, McQuarrie does wonderous with Fallout and its feels like grand semi-culmination of the more recent Mission Impossible endeavors.
If you think about it, the Mission Impossible franchise has taken the same path as the Fast and Furious franchise (evolving its movies into some more big and visual). However, I don’t think that will bother some fans out there as many believe (including myself) that both movie franchise has benefited from their new direction. I mean, Fallout is the sixth installment of the series (and the third movie in this more action blockbuster direction), so a viewer is already on-board with movie or they really don’t care for the movie at all.
In terms of technical flourishes, Fallout succeeds in carrying the same bravado (if not more) that Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation were able to achieve (cinematically speaking). With a lot of the action stunts and chase sequences throughout the film, the efforts made by the film’s editor Eddie Hamilton are effectively utilizes in the movie, piecing together some standout action / fight scenes that are both kinetic fun and cinematically entertaining (i.e. no blur visions and some slick and easy combat movements). In conjunction with that, the movie’s cinematography work done by Rob Hardy is also greatly utilizes, presenting some really beautiful camera shots throughout the film and (in doing so) creating a spectacle blockbuster presentation that’s both beautiful as it is entertaining. Much like it’s other films, the film has plenty of cinematic photographed backdrop settings from all around the world, including the UK, Paris, Norway, and United Arab Emirates), which helps aid not only in the story’s globetrotting locales, but also in some picturesque in feature film (just simply beautiful to look at throughout the film). Another noteworthy talents on the film include production design work by Peter Wenham, costume designs by Jeffery Kurland, and set decorations by Jillie Azis, Arnuad Putman, and Lee Tolley (all of which good great work in their respective areas on the movie). Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by Lorne Balfe, is excellent and adds some great melodies and flourishes that aid in what’s happening on-screen (i.e. be it soft / quiet moments and big and boisterous intense filled thrills).
Despite a lot of reason to like it, Fallout does have some criticism points that it can’t shake off. Perhaps the most notable one with the feature is how long the movie is. The movie takes about almost two and half hours (two hours and twenty-seven minutes) to tell its story from start to finish and, despite the entertainment value, it really does feel like that runtime. Thus, Fallout is bloated feature and could’ve been easily trimmed down (shaving off a good 15 minutes throughout the film) to make for a tighter finished product. Coinciding with that, the movie’s third act seems quite extensive. I know it’s suppose to be the “big finale” piece of the movie, but it just seems to go on and on and could’ve benefited if this part was reduced (proving to have a shorter yet effective third act). To that effect, the movie’s first half seems to be a bit more focused, while the latter half is more for big action set-pieces to appeal to its big-budgeted blockbuster flair. Of course, I loved it, but I was more intrigued by the first half of Fallout than the latter half. Maybe it was because of the bloated runtime (it’s possible). As for narrative substance, while the movie has that classic “spies vs. bad guy villains” that the series is known for, some of the film’s twists are fairly predictable to see coming. To be quite honest, there’s one scene (roughly halfway through the movie) where it becomes confusing as to what’s going on and who’s betraying who. It’s not a deal breaker, but I had to think about it for a few minutes. Lastly, and this is more of a minor complaint, Fallout’s story (various parts) feels like Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation all over again, with Hunt and his team going on a secret mission and almost being disavowed once again by going against protocol or feeling abandoned by their overseer government officials. It’s a good story tactic, but it seems a bit too familiar, especially since it’s already been used in the past two Mission Impossible movies. Just like Cavill’s character says in the movie “How many times has Hunt’s government betrayed him, disavowed him, cast him aside?”. I guess it’s sort of the “nature of the beast” in how the Mission Impossible movies are heading…. almost like a necessary evil.
Much like the past movies of the franchise, Fallout strengthens its story by having a list of talented actors and actresses that populated the film’s various characters (both major and minor ones). Naturally, at the head of the movie (and the entire Mission Impossible movie franchise) is actor Tom Cruise who returns to reprise his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. Cruise, known for his roles in Edge of Tomorrow, The Last Samurai, and Top Gun, has always been the “beating heart” of the Mission Impossible cinematic series, crafting his character of Ethan Hunt in the sort of “American” version of James Bond. Much like the previous two films, Cruise is up for the more high-action thrills and crazy stunt work in these movie, finding the actor settled in for big action thrills that consist of chasing, running, and shootouts all various platforms in Fallout. Additionally, Cruise is adept in making Hunt a solid action hero protagonist, with good deliver timing as well as expressing the character with physical vulnerabilities and disadvantages while on missions. Furthermore, Cruise’s character arc in Fallout is also quite interesting, especially since the movie is tied to aftermath of what happened in Rogue Nation as well as the “cause and effect” of previous movies, which does add more of a character build to this classic spy hero. Personally, I like Cruise as Hunt. While Cruise did go overboard with his media stunts a few years back (you know which ones I’m talking about) and the fact he’s tried to emulate his action hero stint in several bland movies over the years (i.e. Knight and Day, Jack Reacher, The Mummy, etc.), he’s still able to pull off his Mission Impossible role and still make it interesting, especially given the fact the he’s been playing the role for more than twenty years. In the end, whatever your opinion is on him in real life (good, bad, or indifferent), Cruise is still perfect in the role of Ethan Hunt and is still committed in making Mission Impossible movies vehicle for him to drive in.
Beyond Cruise returning to play Ethan Hunt, several other actors and actresses stars return to their post in reprising their characters in Fallout. Of course, actors Simon Pegg (Star Trek and Ready Player One) and Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction and Bring Out the Dead) return to play IMF agents Benjamin “Benji” Dunn and Luther Stickell. Both Pegg and Rhames are veterans of the Mission Impossible franchise and are so well-versed in all the angst and nuances that accompany being in a movie like this. There great foils to Cruise’s Hunt (especially seeing Rhames’s Luther interacting with Ethan “in the field” once again and do supply the film’s comedic relief every now and again. Behind those two, actress Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman and The White Queen) returns to reprise her Rogue Nation’s character Ilsa Faust. Now, while I do love Ferguson as both an actress (I think she’s beautifully stunning), I do love her character of llsa in Rogue Nation, which is great to see her character return in Fallout. Additionally, she’s not just a throwaway cameo appearance, but, given the fact that this movie is sort of a direct follow-up to Rogue Nation, her importance in the movie is paramount. She’s given a story arc to develop throughout the movie and McQuarrie allows her to both develop as a character and kick plenty of butt in the process. Hopefully…. Ferguson’s Faust returns for another (or two) Mission Impossible movies in the future.
As the film’s main antagonist, actor Sean Harris (The Borgias and Prometheus) returns to reprise his role as the villainous Solomon Lane. While I did mention that he was, more or less, the weak part of Rogue Nation, it’s still interesting to see his character return (again…for continuity reasons). His character arc in Fallout isn’t really reinventing the wheel (in terms of villainy) and (again) he is made the weaker part of the cast. Still, Harris’s acting is good, effectively making Solomon Lane a classic (be it cliché) type of villain. In more smaller capacities, actor Alec Baldwin (30 Rock and It’s Complicated) and actress Michelle Monaghan (Patriots Day and Gone Baby Gone) reprise their Mission Impossible roles as IMF Secretary Alan Hunley and Julia-Meade Hunt respectfully.
Of the newcomers to the Mission Impossible world, the most notable one of the cast would have to be actor Henry Cavill, who plays the role of the deadly CIA operative August Walker. Cavill, known for his roles in The Tudors, Justice League, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., handles himself well in the movie, acting almost as a force of nature with Walker being the physically and blunt operative on Hunt’s team than anyone else before. Just like the character Erica Sloane says to Alan Hunley “You use a scalpel. I prefer a hammer”, with the “hammer” being Walker. That being said, Cavill, while dominating the screen in his physical presence and fighting scenes, seems a bit wooden at various points; a mixture of Cavill’s performance and the material he’s given to play around with. It’s not a huge deal breaker (Cavill is still great in the role), but it maybe a bit off-putting to some. Still, Cavill’s Walker (within the context of Fallout) is solid character and acts as a great foil for Cruise’s Hunt. The other big standout newcomer (behind Cavill) is actress Vanessa Kirby as the infamous black-market arms dealer known as the White Widow. Kirby, known for her roles About Time, The Crown, and The Frankenstein Chronicles, is more of supporting character in Fallout, but she indeed memorable in the movie. Not just because she beautiful (she definitely is), but she’s mysterious character that does get developed (again, in a supporting role) throughout the film. To be honest, Kirby’s White Widow is like the perfect casted character to be like James Bond girl and / or villain, which is another tie back the Mission Impossible being the more “American” version of James Bond. As a fun side-note, the character of the White Widow is the daughter of Max from the first Mission Impossible film. Didn’t pick that up in the movie, but I read that online. If that’s true, that’s pretty cool and another neat “Easter egg” in Fallout.
Other noteworthy characters in smaller roles in the movie, including actress Angela Bassett (Black Panther and Contact) as the new director of the CIA Erica Sloane, actor Frederick Schmidt (Patient Zero and Supergirl) as the White Widow’s brother Zola, and actor Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games and Interstellar) as Patrick (can’t say who he is on here as it might run a minor subplot in a side story), he out the cast, filling in moments throughout the film to strengthen character builds or plot points. As a final note, it is interesting to note and a bit sad (to me at least) that actor Jeremy Renner did not return to reprise his role as IMF agent William Brandt in Fallout. Most likely he did not return due to his scheduling conflict with other film obligations (i.e. Tag and Avengers 4). Still, here’s to hoping that Renner’s Brandt makes a return in Mission Impossible 7 (if that projects gets greenlit in the future).
There cannot be peace without first, a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace. The end you’ve always feared is coming. It’s coming, and the blood will be on your hands” are the lines echoed to IMF agent Ethan Hunt as he unravels a devastating plot that threatens millions in the film Mission Impossible Fallout. Director Christopher McQuarrie’s latest film sees the return to the cover world of spies and action hero stunts, upping the ante of the film’s scope, narrative, and overall grand scale adventure that the series has been known for. Despite some small criticism (notably its bloated runtime), the movie succeeds in being a grand action spectacle, thanks to McQuarrie’s direction as well as some fun action sequences and the movie’s solid and effective cast of actors and actresses. Personally, I really liked and enjoyed this movie a lot. While there were a few minor nitpicks I had about the movie, Fallout (as a whole) was something that I immensely enjoyed as a solid action blockbuster endeavor. It may not beat out the original Mission Impossible movie or Ghost Protocol (two of personal favorite Mission Impossible films), but it comes as solid (and highly favorable) third place of the six films in the franchise (so far). Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a definite “highly recommended” for both fans of the series and even causal moviegoers as it’s one of the movie that’s great to see in theaters and is definitely one of the better summer movies of 2018. Given the success of the franchise, one can only hope that a seventh installment in the Mission Impossible franchise will soon be green lighted by the studio execs. If so, I’m total down to see another thrilling spy adventure with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt (and his team). For now, Mission Impossible: Fallout is one mission (film) that you’ll (beyond a shadow of a doubt) want to accept.
4.4 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)
Released On: July 27th, 2018
Reviewed On: July 28th, 2018
Mission Impossible: Fallout is 147 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language