Mission: Impossible - Fallout

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT. Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby and Michelle Monaghan. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Rated M (Action violence and coarse language). 147 min.

This American action spy film has Ethan Hunt, under suspicion from his own spy agency, trying to prevent a global catastrophe after one of his previous Missions has failed. It is the sixth instalment in a long running series of movies that began in 1996 with the film, “Mission: Impossible”. The movie is directed by the same Director (Christopher McQuarrie) who gave us the last film in the series - “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” (2015). Seven actors reprise their roles from previous Mission Impossible movies. Tom Cruise takes the lead role of Ethan Hunt in all of them, and Henry Cavill (of superman fame) joins the series.

It is two years after the events of “Rogue Nation”. Henry Cavill plays a CIA assassin, August Walker, who keeps a watchful eye on things as Ethan Hunt and his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames) execute their Mission. Ethan is haunted by his past mistakes, and if he becomes too conscience-driven, or over-conscientious in his actions when the going gets tough, August Walker is present to step in ruthlessly to take what action he thinks is necessary.

“Mission: Impossible” films maintain a thread of continuity, sometimes tenuously. In previous films, Ethan Hunt has prevented the release of deadly viruses, retrieved confidential computer files, stopped secret wars, and prevented the escalation of terrorist attacks. Here, he copes with the threat of terrorism again, but this time it is nuclear terrorism, which gives the film contemporary relevance in politically unsettled times.

Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) returns from “Rogue Nation” to again threaten the world. Lane’s agency, the Syndicate, has gained access to plutonium which signals a nuclear disaster ahead. Ethan’s mission is to recover three plutonium cores before they are used on key sites, such as the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Mecca, in a single coordinated attack by a terrorist organisation called “The  Apostles”, which is in league with the Syndicate. Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby provide female spy power, and Michelle Monaghan links with Hunt’s romantic past.

It is well known that Tom Cruise does his own stunts. In this film, and at age 56, Cruise executes a stunt that is the most challenging of any he has attempted to date. He jumps from a military aircraft at an altitude level of 25,000 feet, in a lightening storm at dusk, dangerously risking decompression sickness as he falls. Many of his other stunts are death-defying as well, and the cumulative effects of all the stunt work makes this an incredible action movie. The direction of each of the action scenarios is kept under tight control by Christopher McQuarrie, who does all he can to maximise their impact.

Through all of the stunts, it seems incredible that Cruise only broke his ankle in one of them. He engages in chases across rooftops, car chases, motorbike chases, helicopter chases through narrow mountain passes, and jumping on and off airplanes. He has a fierce fist-fight in a toilet block, and he engages in serious cliff-hanging. The plot is complex and it is hard to see if the various pieces plausibly fit, but the action in all of them is highly realistic, and extreme.

Consistent with the movie as a fast-paced slice of action-film making, the implausible plot unfolds with breakneck speed. To keep everything entertaining, the action stunts occur in glamorous locations all around the world, and each of them is death-defying in one way or another.

Leaving aside the absence of character development, and plot complexity, that characterise this film, the movie is is a stunt-driven spectacle of excitement which is very impressive. What makes Ethan Hunt so special in this series is that he manages to risk his life all the time with great  conviction of the worthiness of his cause. In this respect, Marvel Superheroes should take careful note. This is a film that beats Marvel films at their own game, and it is incredibly “action-intense”.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Paramount Pictures Australia

Released August 2nd., 2018


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