By the sixth movie in the franchise, a property is normally faced with an identity crisis: adapt or succumb or growing disinterest that results in waning box office numbers. But for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, salvation actually lies with doubling down on everything that people enjoy about the franchise. Namely, stunts. Lots and lots of stunts. Jeez, Tom Cruise, when will Father Time win?
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie
In the aftermath of the capture of Solomon Lane (Harris), a splinter cell of assassins called “The Apostles” has formed and began wreaking havoc all over the world. Their mission: procure plutonium to make three bombs, thus creating a new world order once used.
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the rest of the IMF team become aware of the plans and are forced to go undercover to infiltrate The Apostles and thwart their plans. But little do they know that multiple people involved in the situation have ulterior motives.
It’s amazing that Mission: Impossible – Fallout arrived in theaters in one piece because, as you may already know, the film suffered a serious setback during production. While jumping from building to building for a chase scene in the movie, Cruise’s ankle jammed into the side of the building, breaking mid-take. Amazingly, Cruise finished the take so that they could use the stunt in the film, limp running off camera like he was actually a super spy that was trying to run off a mere sprain. You’ll be able to see that same take in the final cut of the film when you go to your nearest theater to see the movie. I would post that behind-the-scenes footage here, but I’m probably more squeamish than all of you.
Luckily, Mission: Impossible – Fallout met its initial release date despite the delay in production, but the insurance company that had to take care of the bill wasn’t exactly happy. Cruise’s injury cost the production about $80 million, ballooning the film’s budget to about $250 million, making Fallout by far the most expensive Mission: Impossible movie. Thankfully for Paramount, they aren’t responsible for that insurance coverage and are still only focused on recouping the initial budget of around $180 million. Still, it shows how dangerous these stunts are from the business side of things, let alone the physical toll that they take.
Tom Cruise is Insane for Doing These Stunts…But We’re All Better for It
I’m definitely fearful for Cruise’s life as this franchise moves forward and he continues to push 60. But for now, we all need to take a step back and appreciate him for what he puts his body through for these movies, Fallout most specifically. Cruise learned to expertly fly a helicopter (among many other things) for this movie, flying himself into danger every single second.
CGI is a great tool these days. It creates so many worlds and images that no one would have though were possible just a few decades ago. But there’s something about Cruise doing these stunts that is just…better. There’s no trick photography happening here, allowing the camera to hang back and let the anxiety of watching these actions set in with the viewer. Everything is unbelievably clear and concise. It puts seeing Vin Diesel’s stuntman in The Fate of the Furious to shame.
It’s a hard things to explain, but knowing that you’re actually watching an actor put himself in harm’s way in such clarity is the best of what action films can offer. Nothing beats it.
Strong Characters Galore
But great stunts do not make a great movie — the characters have to drive the action to make it heart-wrenching and engrossing. That’s exactly what Mission: Impossible – Fallout does. When Tom Cruise isn’t running like his life depends on it, the characters take center stage. The character of Ethan Hunt has been reduced to “Tom Cruise: action man” in previous installments in the franchise, it’s one of things that has held these movies back from achieving “masterpiece” status. Fallout understands that Ethan Hunt is a bit of a tortured soul unable to live a regular life because he’s jumping from building to building in a single leap. The action is tied to who he is — it conflicts with his take on morality.
And Fallout doesn’t stop there. Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust continues to be one of the strongest female characters out there. She has her own goals, and she really doesn’t care about who gets in her way. Not only is she badass, but she’s empowered every step of the way. In tandem with Ving Rhames’ Luther, Simon Pegg’s Benji, Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane, and many others, you care about the fate of these individuals at all times.
An Intelligent Script that Keeps Finding Ways to Entertain
Christopher McQuarrie wraps all these fun characters in a plot that is always intriguing. Fallout has your usual tropes that you see in almost every single spy thriller, but each of them are done with a twist on the formula, showing that while we’re dealing with incredibly intelligent, physically fit people, they’re capable of messing up, forcing them to improvise even further. It plays with the notion of who is good and who is evil — sometimes making it rather obvious to signal to the audience that a later reveal isn’t meant to be a twist — knocking everyone down a peg just when they start to feel cocky.
But everything goes back to a discussion of morality, where clinging on to what you believe will be brutally challenged by opposing forces. When your movie has top of the line action COMBINED with true heart and emotion, you really can’t ask for much more.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the best examples of what crowd-pleasing, blockbuster filmmaking can be. With insane practical stunts filmed with incredible grace by Christopher McQuarrie, every scene is something to behold in one way or another.
I’m not the first critic to praise this film’s action — and I certainly won’t be the last — but I was most impressed by Fallout‘s ability to inject heart and emotion into a film that is essentially wall-to-wall action. There’s strong subtext here — that’s one of the main reasons why Fallout is the best Mission: Impossible film yet.
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