Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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That was a very fine (and expensive) moustache.

Following the events of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt finds himself in the middle of a plot for global devastation instigated by ex-Mi6 and criminal mastermind Soloman Lane. He and his team have a limited time to stop miniature nuclear weapons from being armed across the globe, while the CIA have their own agent watching him closely…

We are now onto the sixth entry to the Mission: Impossible movie franchise which began in 1996, with Tom Cruise leading every one of them as Ethan Hunt, and while franchises usually struggle after the fourth or fifth outing… Fallout is a critical success with audiences and critics alike.

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First of all, Fallout is the closest the franchise has had in terms of a direct sequel. Director Christopher McQuarrie returns after directing Rogue Nation, to bring back Sean Harris as the British villain Soloman Lane. Also returning is, of course, the IMF crew of Ving Rhames’s Luther, Simon Pegg as Benji and third-party rogue assassin Ilsa, played by Rebecca Ferguson. But more than that, Fallout ties even further back into the franchise (in fact, all the way back to the first film).
It is perhaps as close to James Bond as Mission: Impossible is allowed to get. With large portions of the action taking place either in London or snow-capped mountain ranges, as well as a surprisingly dark opening scene (Hunt’s nightmare of marrying his wife, overseen by Solomon Lane himself, only to have a nuclear blast destroy them all). One might expect a very earnest, grim story, especially as this is followed by the team losing a fight.

But much like a magician’s trickery, Fallout is full of twists and surprises, cleverly pulling the rug out from under the audience. This is probably one of the major reasons why the Mission: Impossible films are such big crowd pleasers; they are clever, but they don’t overstep their boundaries. In fact the pre-title sequence in this film is fantastic, really reminding us all why we like these characters so much.
Working knowledge of the last three Mission: Impossible movies is a must, especially Rogue Nation, otherwise audiences will not grasp how high the stakes are for Ethan Hunt. There’s also plenty of twists and turns in the plot, with different motivations shifting the story’s dynamic, so audiences should be tuned in from the get go.
On top of these stakes, we have Henry Cavill as August Walker, a CIA agent sent with Hunt on the mission to “keep an eye on” proceedings. Walker is a good addition to the thickening plot around the IMF team. As the script suggests: IMF uses Ethan Hunt like “a scalpel”, whereas the CIA uses Walker like “a hammer”, to solve problems. Cavill’s Superman-proportioned physique makes for brawling, chaotic fights that the nimble (and lets be honest, older) Tom Cruise character is not accustomed to! From a storytelling standpoint, he gives a new and outside perspective of the antics that the IMF team always goes on.

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Which leads us to the film’s comedy.
Despite the film opening with a nuclear blast crashing Ethan’s wedding, Fallout is surprisingly loaded with comedic writing. Be it Simon Pegg’s natural comedic timing, or Cavill’s straight-man angle to proceedings, there is an overwhelming sense of self-awareness to the screenplay and script.
Perhaps this is expected from the sixth entry of the series, but it was at times distracting. The screenplay almost feels like a checklist: here’s the motorcycle chase, here’s the “Tom Cruise running for a really long time” scene, but all the while the film is having a laugh at it. Simply by the way the characters give knowing looks at each other, or how Cruise can’t start his motorcycle at first. It is all in good fun though, even if the film doesn’t feel quite as inventive as previous entries.

The only scene with a real issue was Pegg’s character Benji apparently not knowing how to use a tablet. While Hunt is running through London, Benji has to direct him where to go. He does this… spectacularly badly. He leads Hunt to commit to death-defying leaps over rooftops, taking circular (literally) routes, only for the reason being because Benji “had the map in 2D”, and “didn’t have the map auto-rotating”…
Sorry, but isn’t Benji the tech guy? Isn’t that his exact skill set? Why is he bumbling around with not knowing the basics of how a tablet works??
This pursuit goes on for quite a while, and this issue really dampens it.

But, Fallout has some great thrills and even better subversion of expectations throughout. It is extremely fast paced despite its two hour and twenty minute run time! While it isn’t quite as inventive as previous entries, the way that it feels harmonious with previous entries, the chemistry between the characters (and that fine Cavill moustache) makes this a very good entry in the franchise.

Like spy action movies, you should definitely check it out.

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Additional Marshmallows: For anyone not in the know, Henry Cavill’s moustache in this film can be considered the most expensive moustache in cinema history, with a price anywhere between $3million and $25 million. The reason being because of Mission: Impossible: Fallout‘s production coinciding with 2018’s earlier Justice League movie’s reshoots, which heavily involved a clean-shaven Henry Cavill as Superman. While McQuarrie was happy to help, the physical nature of the Walker role meant no fake moustache could be used… So Justice League producers Warner Brothers had to remove the moustache digitally. Which… doesn’t look good.
Suffice to say, the better film won out.

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