Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise is a maniac.
Just when you think him and the motley crew of filmmakers behind the longest running action franchise in cinematic history couldn’t outdo themselves, they give us “Mission: Impossible - Fallout” - the sixth entry into the ‘Mission’ franchise, and the best blockbuster of the summer.
We’re talking monumental achievements in the action movie world here, with crazier, bolder, and just insane stunts that other films in the same genre are severely lacking. Which leads me to believe writer and director Christopher McQuarrie has taken his franchise’s title quite literally. This is the kind of straight, high-speed chase that constantly knocks you on your feet, keeping you alive, only to throw you down again with another unbelievable gust of pure action craze.
After sitting through six of these movies - which like a fine wine only seem to get better with age - one has to wonder how they manage to keep this series throbbing and consistently delivering on the promise of a sequel: which is to make a bigger splash than its predecessors. I think the answer might lie with Cruise, who doesn’t sell himself so easily (and after “The Mummy” debacle lets hope he sticks on the correct path). He works for every dime he earns, and you can tell - on screen - he aims to please.
Pleases he does - as he roars back on the big-screen in his most notorious role: Ethan Hunt. Taking place in many international locales, “Fallout” first opens in Belfast where the remnants of the underground syndicate from “Rogue Nation” dubbed The Apostles are still going strong. And with Apostle leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris - in this series most interesting baddie) in custody, it leaves his followers to carry out his dirty work. Ethan’s mission - should he choose to accept it - involves infiltrating the syndicate and thwarting a planned nuclear attack that would decimate millions.
In the pre credit opening sequence, Hunt’s crew; Benji (Simon Pegg - always refreshing in these movies); and Luther (Ving Rhames - hustling in the best ways possible) are turned upside down when a planned extract goes horribly, forcing the CIA - headed by a snarky director (Angela Bassett) and her trained hitman (Henry Cavill sporting a full mustache that was the bane of “Justice League’s” existence last fall) - to intervene. For this first hour or so, the events which transpire, seem well placed within the construct of McQuarrie’s narrative. Only to flip, than flip again and eventually doing a triple axel backflip that keeps the audience on their toes. “Fallout” never stops surprising you.
In addition to those merits, McQuarrie and Cruise also jampack “Fallout” with, what seems like, one explosive set-piece after another. Taking into account a smackdown that escalades between Cavill, Cruise and their target inside a closed, very condensed, bathroom, you’ve got Hunt jumping out of airplanes at incredibly high altitudes, flying helicopters in Evel Knievel style patterns, and jumping between skyscraper tall buildings (which actually had the actor break his ankle - and it's the take which made it into the film. Now that’s dedication). Not to mention the nifty gadgets that always get written into the script, my personal favorite being a mechanism that works like a 3D printer, capturing the facial features of its target and then spitting out an impeccable duplicate, which paired with its vocal chord recognition makes for some truly shocking relizations.
But it’s best to enter “Fallout” with as fresh a perspective as possible, leaving McQuarrie to conduct this like a smooth orchestra (hey - speaking of music: Lorne Balfe’s score is electric). Alec Baldwin is back as the IMF director, who, with other returning cast members: Pegg, Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson seem to make this blockbuster the hottest ticket in town.
What helps is that “Fallout” has all the traits which define a quality action film: believable stakes, smart plot, and actors caring about their objective. Cruise and company work overtime making sure the audience can establish credible reason to root for them - something the big and dumb “Skyscraper” failed to do just two weeks ago. Rest assured, the IMF is here to save the day and deliver the entertaining popcorn-infused tour de force you’ve been craving all year.