'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' review

Quite possibly the best action film of 2018

If it's action films, it isn't getting much better than what you get in Mission: Impossible.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is running, jumping across rooftops and hanging precariously from the side of a building, chasing after someone who he's been hunting the entire film. On the other side, Benji (Pegg) is trying to navigate him through the streets of London, all the while forgetting that he's got the navigator arranged wrong. The mix of action and comedy classic to the 'Mission: Impossible' of recent fare serves to remind one thing: This is how you do a long-running series correctly. Many would do well to learn.

'Mission: Impossible', which started in 1996 is one of the longest-running action film series in recent history. Based off a TV series by Bruce Geller, the series has always put its money on seamlessly blending high-octane, visceral action with a classic spy thriller-style plot, usually involving theft of high-value items or dangerous individuals.

In 'Fallout', Ethan Hunt is put to a chase after a mysterious unknown entity only known as John Lark, a supplier of sorts to the 'Apostles', remnants of the Syndicate that was brought down when his team captured Solomon Lane (Harris) 2 years prior, after an attempt to purchase 3 plutonium cores goes haywire and he is forced to choose between Luther (Rhames) and the cores.

Now, while the IMF secretary Hunley (Baldwin) is all for letting Hunt grab hold of this Lark person and the cores by means of a troublesome dealer named White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), the CIA has different plans: He is forced to partner with the muscleman August Walker (Cavill), who makes it very clear he has no interest in going along with Hunt's ideas. Adding fuel to the fire in Ethan's head is Ilsa (Ferguson), who for reasons unknown is after Solomon Lane, who is being passed from government to government for the proverbial 'pound of flesh'.

'Mission: Impossible' has never skirted from putting Hunt at the edge of death. Quite to the contrary, the series seems to revel in putting him in situations that would make the viewer question the sanity of such a person, especially since Tom Cruise actually does his stunts himself, adding an even greater sense of realism though it comes with its own set of risks.

Christopher McQuarrie, who also directed the excellent 'Rogue Nation', brings his experience and penchant for incredulous action and set pieces, coupled with a plot that goes from a heist film to a political thriller to a criminal conspiracy. Hunt is propelled from the high criminal society of Paris, to the streets of London and to the outer fringes of Kashmir (featuring a short but welcome return of Michelle Monaghan's Julia) to stop Lane, Lark and their heinous machinations.

Joining him are most of his usual friends: Benji, who was always my favourite guy in the series; partially because he acts as a voice of reason to Hunt's ever-rising suicidal stuntwork and lack of planning (that is a running gag throughout the film). Pegg really brings a soul to the film, the lack of which, I fear could have made it quite dull. Action films like these live and die on the action, but without some cool comedy to take the heat off, the film could've possibly become just another Hollywood B-movie that jumps from set piece to set piece.

Also returning is Luther, who in this film, carries a persona bordering on someone who has post-traumatic stress. After all, Ethan did choose to save him over recovering the plutonium, something Luther makes a point of mentioning in the film.

But perhaps the best addition to the series is Cavill himself, who personifies the stereotypical American musclehead with reckless abandon. He shows no remorse, constantly mocks Hunt's methods and is a treat to watch in fight scenes, of which there are many. And yes, he comes complete with the moustache.

Action set-pieces are the series' bread-and-butter, and Christopher crafts them very carefully, almost like an artist making a masterpiece. The film is filled with the tried-and-tested classics like the chase through the streets of Paris and the obligatory Tom Cruise foot-chase, this time through the streets and rooftops of London. This time, the new additions to the stunts are vertigo-inducing jumps from a military carrier and a close-quarters helicopter chase through the Siachen glacier region.

The presentation is also a strong point of the film, with much of the action presented on digital IMAX, bringing the action closer than ever. The rest of the film is also crisply shot and edited, adding great value to a film that relies almost exclusively on action to do the storytelling.

But there are some criticisms that must be brought up: Firstly, the White Widow. While the character is a very neat tie-in to the very first film of the series and is certainly enigmatic and enthralling, she adds very little to the plot. She could be replaced with any other troublesome black market dealer and the film would not suffer for it at all.

Another issue is the way Hunt's team communicates. There is no obvious communicator hooked to their ears, yet the entire team is able to perfectly coordinate with each other during a pivotal point of the film, which breaks immersion somewhat. The film is also made somewhat predictable by how it focuses on Ethan's personal philosophy of choosing the one life over the many and then being put in a pinch to save the many, but it does not suffer for it. Indeed, it only serves to make Ethan Hunt, a man who routinely puts himself at death's door, a more realistic person.

Overall, 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is a strong film that does the series right. It adds to the stakes without falling into the series' 'disavowed' trap, presents a deeply woven plot that balances its peaks and lows competently and action that only raises the bar for every action movie that comes out in the year that remains. Truly, the film is the greatest in the series, and will most likely reign over all action films of 2018.

Score: 4.5/5

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