Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the continuing story of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) whom, along with his team, are the people you call when the world needs saving. In their 6th outing, the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) have found themselves facing a dilemma regarding missing plutonium that is likely to be used for nuclear weapons. This is mostly the IMF’s fault due to an exchange gone bad where Hunt decides to save the life of his friend, Luther (Ving Rhames), over completing his mission.
Compounding the issue are the remnants of the previous entry, Rogue Nation, which saw the capture of international terrorist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Lane’s followers have split off to form a new extremist group known as The Apostles, which are being led by the shadowy John Lark. Given their previous missteps, the CIA are now intervening with the director (Angela Bassett) assigning her top assassin Walker (Henry Cavill) to assist Hunt’s capture of Lark. With Walker, who is described as a hammer in juxtaposition to Hunt being a scalpel, the IMF must find the missing plutonium and stop The Apostles from whatever act of terror they are likely to engage in next.
What works in Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the action and the characterization. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Fallout may contain the greatest collection of action sequences ever assembled in one movie. As the credits roll, listen as the audience lets out a collective breath after realizing they’ve been subconsciously holding it for nearly two hours. Then will come the debate about which sequence was the most thrilling—and no one will be wrong. There has been a slow, nearly seamless transition in the past two decades to rely more heavily on CGI and stunt doubles to creation action. Mission: Impossible – Fallout exposes those seams, and bursts them open, through a reliance on the real. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie uses practical effects, combined with the actual on-screen talent, and the result is the perhaps the most gorgeous, artistic, action film ever made. As in-home theaters and technology become more popular, Mission: Impossible – Fallout presents itself as the reason to go out to the movies.
It’s somewhat incredible that Cruise has been portraying Ethan Hunt for 22 years. Amazingly, McQuarrie has done something now with the character, and his friends, that has not previously been achieved—making them comprehensive and thus relatable. There’s an interesting, if not stealthy, character story at play in Fallout with Hunt at the center. Hunt’s ambitions, strengths, and weaknesses are fully explored and moves him from infallible, unbreakable action hero, to person. While the majority of this is thanks to a true performance by Cruise, Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther, and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) all contribute to his puzzle in their own ways. There’s also Cavill who does an excellent job of representing an opposing viewpoint and methodology to Hunt’s. And finally, McQuarrie fleshes out his characters by connecting and growing the franchise in unexpected ways, and tying together loose ends from nearly all the previous films.
If Mission: Impossible – Fallout has any shortcomings, and there only a few, they are laden in the breakneck pace. The film rushes from place to place, itching to show off its next crazy spectacle. The trick nearly works. As the movie rushes along, audiences are unlikely to have enough time to consider the ludicrous coincidences and logic-defying decisions. Or maybe they won’t care. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is easily the smartest entry in the series, and while that may be a low bar, fans of the series to date will likely be okay with the plot holes as part of the deal they signed up for when buying a ticket.
For those who have access to a 4DX theater nearby (for example Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 in Washington, D.C.), Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a fantastic excuse to check it out, and the reason why the technology is becoming more popular. The whooshing of bullets flying by, the sprays of water, and smell of burnt rubber as tires screech away enhance the entire experience. All that said, it’s the seat movement that really makes the trip worthwhile. Watching Fallout in 4DX turns the film into a ride. Literally. It starts with the soft rumbles on your bottom that correspond to a car slowly rolling over a cobblestone street. Later, there’s some heavy tilting from left to right as Hunt careens through traffic on a motorcycle. And finally, at the climax of the film during a crazy helicopter chase, audiences will without question feel like they part of the action. The 4DX chairs correspond so incredibly well to the imagery, that people are likely to scream out in suspense as they feel themselves rocked and rolled. In the best possible way, it may be the most intense way to sit through an already intense movie. If you have a strong desire to be extra-thrilled, go see Mission: Impossible – Fallout in 4DX. You will not be disappointed.
Final Grade: A
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures