Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin
Plot: Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is tasked with tracking down missing plutonium, as Solomon Lane’s (Harris) old organisation attempts to break him out of jail.
Remember a time when Mission Impossible was the franchise that was slowly fading into an overdue death. After Brian De Palma’s iconic and near-perfect opening film that launched Tom Cruise into action movie fame and reaffirmed that 007 wasn’t the only spy movie worth tuning into, Mission Impossible struggled to make that solid follow-up movie. John Woo’s entry missed the point and while I have a fondness for the third entry, it didn’t win many people over. However, with Ghost Protocol, finally Ethan Hunt made it to the big leagues. While Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout all are guilty of a fair chunk of repetition, it appears to be working. Mission Impossible is a consistently strong spy thriller, free of the womanising controversy of James Bond or the inconsistency of Jason Bourne. As long as Tom Cruise is willing to break his ankle jumping out of buildings, then we will have Mission Impossible movies.
Fallout, for a time, boasts the most convoluted plot since the De Palma entry. It feels like Ethan Hunt drawing from the classic spy thrillers of past eras. While we still get the gripping action sequences, time is spent drawing up a treacherous, double-crossing plot. After Hunt chooses to save a friend over protecting plutonium, a terrorist organisation gets its hands on some deadly nuclear weapons. As Ethan tries to get the weapons back and keep the head of Syndicate, captured in the last film, out of enemy hands, he finds that the good guys are giving him as much resistance as the baddies. In fact, for a long time, the villains are faceless enemies, characterised by forgettable goons and middle-men (or middle-women in the case of Vanessa Kirby’s British broker), the main threat coming from the different factions of government. After losing the plutonium, Angela Bassett’s fiery head of the CIA doesn’t trust the IMF (see what I mean about repeated plot points?), pairing Ethan with her own man, Henry Cavill’s untrustworthy Walker. Walker is a kill-first, ask-questions-later kind of agent, the man that the government turn to when scared. Most of the complications in Ethan’s mission comes with having a team member he cannot work with. As well as a dodgy crew member and suspicious section heads, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust returns with her own motives for getting involved in the Solomon Lane situation. Last time, Ferguson walked the thin line between hero and villain – it appears nothing has changed here. Sometimes her motives align with Hunt’s and awesome fight scenes happen on-screen; other times, she is the enemy firing bullets at her old friend. It makes for a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns. Hunt’s back really does feel like it is against the wall, which, six films in, must be a harder experience to accomplish for the producers each time around. While some twists are easier to guess than others, the film manages to create a meaty story for its heroes to find themselves in.
Well, sort of… as the movie hits the final 45 minutes, McQuarrie backs out and goes for the usual set of thrills. Midway through the film, twists are revealed and players are forced to confront each other. It is thrilling enough, but by the end of the scene, the story has streamlined. There are no longer several moving pieces to the chess board, but a simple case of Ethan Hunt vs. the bad guys. It is easy to see why the movie ended up here, because McQuarrie feels comfortable in delivering a very Mission Impossible set-up with a convoluted nuclear device that requires death-defying stunts to stop. The action moves so fast, it is hard to feel too cheated out of the complex spy story that we could have had. Of course, the argument is that, in Mission Impossible movies, the plot has never mattered much anyway. Here, once again, the bad guys’ plot doesn’t hold up to too much scrutiny. Instead, settle into watching Tom Cruise do awesome things on camera. It is clear that these scripts are built around two or three dizzyingly hazardous things that Cruise fancies having a go at. Here, he drives a motorbike against oncoming traffic, plays dodgems with two helicopters and jumps out of multiple buildings. While outsiders to the franchise will roll their eyes and come out with the usual glib remarks concerning any of Cruise’s work, but fans of the series will know that these moments make a film. The finale is edge-of-your-seat stuff and the action is never anything less than awesome. Even an early punch-up in the bathroom of a nightclub is the kind of solid sequence that most actions would save for their final chapter. While time will likely make this one of the lesser films, it proves that Mission Impossible is no longer the fading spy franchise out there.
Final Verdict: While McQuarrie wimps out of sticking with his complex spy thriller story, this is a decent substitute: a death-defying thrill-ride.