An old favorite—bigger, better, and more implausible than ever.
Genre: Action! Perfection!
Why We Watched: I took one look at the trailer for this movie and knew it would be excellent. Spoiler alert: I was right.
You Might Also Like: The James Bond movies, the Jason Bourne series, and the Indiana Jones franchise will all help to scratch your itch for action. But also I guarantee that Fallout will leave you so satisfied, you won't need anything else.
It's no secret that I am not a Tom Cruise fan. As a lover of action movies, you'd think I'd love the guy since he's something of an icon. Nope. But I put up with him for the sake of the genre. I've long felt the same about the Mission: Impossible franchise. The first of the series is excellent, of course. And, sure, I've watched all the rest as they've come out over the past 22 years. I felt more half-hearted with each one, but still, I watched.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout changed all that. In this latest installment (the 6th), the franchise does what a franchise must do if it's to survive for so long: it starts poking fun at itself. That and the over-the-top amazing action sequences set this movie apart as one of the very best of its kind. In fact, I'll admit it: I like this one better than the original from 1996, true classic that it is. I'm even, sorta kinda, a Tom Cruise fan now.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent extraordinaire, must save the world yet again. This time, a couple of plutonium cores are the loose—you know, the kind you make nuclear bombs with. Hunt's initial mission in Fallout is simply to buy the plutonium from gangsters to keep it safely out the Apostles' hands, the terrorist group made up of the remnants of the Syndicate from MI:5. But, of course, all Hades breaks loose at the handover, and the plutonium disappears.
The CIA gets wind of Hunt's gaff and decides he needs oversight from one of their people: August Walker (Henry Cavill), the "hammer" to Hunt's "scalpel." Walker is a scary bear of man who helps Hunt and Co. out of a few tricky situations, but he also comically voices the thoughts of skeptical naysayers. When Hunt lays out a plan to capture mysterious bad guy John Lark using his old standby the face scan mask, Walkers comments, "People actually fall for this sh*t?"
Ohhhhhh but they do, over and over and over again. That trick has gotten the IMF team into and out of a lot of tough spots over the years. And, hey, if it ain't broke, why fix it, right? That is what makes this movie work. It takes the same formula—the same spy craft, the same stunts, the same plots—that viewers love and reworks them into something that is far greater than the sum of its parts. It's an action thriller at its absolute finest.
It also follows through on a couple decades worth of character development. Hunt only lost the plutonium in the first place because he chose to save his old friend Luther (Ving Rhames) instead, but the consequences could be enormous (like, the death of a third of the world's population). Hunt's nemesis Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) tells him that he's getting ready to experience the "fallout of all his good intentions." And there's the double meaning of the film's title. Yes, nuclear fallout is at stake, but that's inseparable from Hunt's own fallout. He has tried really hard to protect the people he loves over the years... but at what cost?
And at what cost will Cruise keep making these movies? He does all of his own stunts, which is a massive feat itself—but it's not without consequences. There was a long delay in filming because Cruise broke his ankle jumping from one building to another. He was well into his 50s at the time (though you wouldn't guess it to look at him). Part of me thinks he should stop while he's ahead—how could he ever top Fallout anyway? But part of me hopes fervently that he'll continue on.
Watching this movie in theaters was a visceral experience, and I feel giddy just thinking about it. The incredible motorcycle chase through Paris, the awesome helicopter sequence through the mountains of Kashmir, the superbly choreographed fistfight in the bathroom—I hope for more and more and more.
Walker would say, "Hope is not a strategy." To that I would say, "Oh, you must be new."