Action films may come and go, but ever since I ventured to my local Odeon in 1996 to see the first one, I’ve been rather fond of the Mission Impossible film franchise. Yes, some have been weaker than others, but overall this remains one of the most consistent action franchises in recent decades and I’d been looking forward to the latest one since it was in production.
There’s certainly been a lot of hype about Mission Impossible: Fallout, with some saying it’s the best action film of the last decade. That may be a bit much in my opinion, but it’s certainly my favourite since 2012’s Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises. Plus, a big strength of the MI franchise is that it knows its place and style. It isn’t Bond and it isn’t Bourne and it isn’t meant to be. There is something quintessential about these films and thanks to their lead actor / producer, that quality flows through each one. They are the perfect mix of action, intrigue and humour (and sometimes, even emotion).
This sixth outing for the IMF sees Ethan Hunt and his trusted team trying to track down plutonium before it is used to set off multiple nuclear bombs across the world. The culprits are The Apostles, followers of Solomon Lane, who was the face of the shadowy Syndicate in the last film before being captured by Hunt and co.
Over the 147 minutes running time (which really does fly by, due to all the action packed in), we watch Hunt cover the globe in order to complete his latest mission and this certainly looks impressive on screen, with car and motorcycle chases across the busy streets of Paris, dashes on foot across London’s Bankside, not to mention some impressive scenes inside and around St. Paul’s Cathedral, culminating in an incredible rooftop getaway shot atop the Tate Modern, which certainly ups the ante for any other chase scenes set in London. Then there is the stunning backdrop of New Zealand’s Remarkables, the setting for an exhilarating helicopter chase through the mountains. You can certainly see the money on the screen in this movie, but director (and writer) Christopher McQuarrie also ensures the pacing and visual look of the film matches up with a decent story and strong performances.
Fallout (and indeed the franchise as a whole) has also benefitted from the cast it is able to attract. Some of our old favourites are back; Ving Rhames’s Luther, who’s been here since day one, provides both humour and heartfelt friendship for Hunt, Simon Pegg continues to shine as comical Benji and Rebecca Ferguson returns following her introduction in Rogue Nation, as does Alec Baldwin as their boss, who this time gets to enjoy some time in the field.
New to the party is Angela Bassett, as the no-nonsense CIA boss, who has taken on Baldwin’s scepticism regarding the IMF and Henry Cavill, as Bassett’s right-hand muscle (who, perhaps, raises the discussion on his suitability to move from CIA to MI6 in another film franchise!). As a theatre addict, it was also a joy to see the incredibly talented Vanessa Kirby have a decent role in the story as The White Widow, the daughter of Max (is that the Max played by Vanessa Redgrave in the first film?).
Then, of course, there is the lynchpin of every MI film and that’s Ethan Hunt and as always, Tom Cruise gives everything he has to the role and the film as a whole. His commitment and dedication to these films is well known (breaking a foot and finishing the scene, just one example) and this shines off the screen. The MI films are now known for their stunts and Cruise’s determination to perform them all himself and Fallout takes this to a whole new level.
There are so many jaw-dropping sequences in this film, that you barely have time to take a breath between them and guess what, Cruise does most of them himself! That HALO jump? Yep, that’s him. The helicopter sequence? Him as well (after 18 months of training and learning how to fly it himself in order to do those terrifying shots)! They make the thrilling chases through Paris and the leaping from building to building seem like a walk in the park! Say what you want about Mr Cruise, but he knows how to make fantastically thrilling movies!
Is some of it totally bonkers? Of course! This is Mission Impossible after all, not “Mission Difficult” (as Antony Hopkins once said in the second film, that would be easy for the IMF) and I have no problem leaving reality at the door and settling back for a truly entertaining couple of hours and Fallout proves to be one of the best action films of recent years. The best of the franchise? It certainly is for me.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is now on general release in both the UK and the US. You can watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/wb49-oV0F78