If you go into Mission: Impossible Fallout thinking that there is no way Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise can make yet another Mission: Impossible movie where we see all those classic series tropes (like crazy stunts and face mask misdirects), and still make it even better than the last (which was a franchise high), you’d be wrong. Fallout excels in not only pushing everything you expect from a twenty two year old movie franchise (based on an even older tv show) to new heights, but taking the characters and their stories in a meaningful new direction.
As you’d expect the story once again comes down to Ethan Hunt saving the world with his rag tag band of IMF agents and super spies, all whilst mistrusted by another spy agency (here the CIA, again), and out to stop a sinister and mysterious criminal organisation, which yet again results in Ethan having to do the impossible (pun sort of intended).
This time we see the returning villain of Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane, the former MI6 agent who ran the terrorist organisation, ‘The Syndicate’ (an evil version of IMF), in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Ethan and his team have to kidnap Lane and use him as leverage to stop the remaining members of the Syndicate (and the mysterious ‘John Lark’) from detonatingthree nuclear warheads. Whilst Ethan is out to save the world, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust also returns, set on killing Lane for MI6, and Henry Cavill’s August Walker, the CIA’s Special Activities Division’s top assassin, is keeping a watchful (and suspicious) eye over Ethan and the IMF.
In Fallout we get everything you’d expect from a Mission: Impossible movie from the face mask misdirects, and self destructing mission assignments, to brutal fight scenes, outrageous stunts and tense chase scenes, and yet Fallout manages to elevate absolutely every one of these tropes with action that feels, looks, and sounds better than ever, stunts and chase scenes that push boundaries the franchise has already set (which were already very high), and a truly meaningful story that gives us a real look at where Ethan’s years of service have brought him.
Mission: Impossible has always known how to deliver suspense and been able to embody that spy thriller tension so many movies fail to create. But Fallout see’s Ethan and the IMF come closer than ever before to actually having to stop a world ending event (literally down to the second), and it does so in style. The tense scenes and nail biting stunts the franchise is known for are pushed to a new level as a result, and the opening ten minutes feels like it has more action and stunts than the whole of the last movie.
What is really one of Fallout’s more impressive tropes is how real the stakes feel, you ultimately know the Ethan Hunt will probably never die (at this point I’m convinced he’s immortal), but everyone else feels like fair game a number of times in the movie, and that’s without the very real threat of impending nuclear war being the real danger throughout the film. Any franchise, no matter the genre, can struggle with keeping the stakes going six movies in, and as an extension next to no other long running franchise is still getting better and better twenty two years later.
Even in amongst a host of new characters, jaw dropping stunts (that include a skydive into a lightning storm) Fallout manages to bring in some clever nods to past films, namely the arms dealer ‘White Widow’ being the daughter of Max, the arms dealer from the first Mission: Impossible.
The supporting cast rounds out the move perfectly, from returning characters such as Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley, Simon Pegg’s Benji, Ving Rhames’s ever present Luther, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, and Michelle Monaghan as Julia (Ethan’s ex wife), to new comers such as Angela Bassett as Erica Sloane, Hunlety’s replacement as the Director of CIA, and Henry Cavill as August Walker, in a role that shows off a sinister new (and very un Superman) side of Cavill.
A lot of the credit to Fallout’s success however comes down to Tom Cruise, who feels more Ethan Hunt than ever in this sixth instalment. We get a real glimpse at the cracks starting to show in a man who has dedicated most of his life to saving the world without them ever knowing it. And we see that despite his decades of spy craft he still struggles to accept any loses and goes out of his way (often at his own expense) to save as many good guys (and even some bad guys) as he can.
Over the past twenty two years the Mission: Impossible formula has been tweaked and refined with nearly every movie improving on it’s predecessor, this comes to a boiling point with Fallout which is not only the best in the franchise, but one of the best action movies in a long time. Filled with more stunts, action, and character development than ever before, Fallout manages to deliver some real consequences to Ethan Hunt’s life as a spy, whilst setting the franchise up for a new wave of adventures in which Ethan and his team make the impossible possible.