Running Man: A Review of "Mission: Impossible - Fallout"
It’s often been said that to make a Tom Cruise film special, you have to make him run, as he runs so cinematically and has turned it into an art form! Well, in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, there is one extended sequence of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) doing just that, and not on ground level, but on top of buildings. It’s just one of the truly terrific action scenes that make this 6th installment one of the very best the franchise has created.
And that is saying a lot when you take into consideration that it all began back in 1996, twenty-two years ago, and that Tom is now 56 years of age, but still making us believe that he’s performing a good percentage of the stunts himself. In fact, let’s state right here that the stunt team on this film deserves an award of their own. From parachute jumps to hand-to-hand fighting, to street chases and rooftop pursuit, to out of this world helicopter sequences—there’s that commitment to make us gasp one more time, or hold our breath in suspense. And it works, as the stunt work is out of this world.
Christopher McQuarrie, who directed Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation in 2015, is back, the first time in the franchise that there’s a returning director/writer. Evidently, his close friendship and working relationship over the years with Cruise meant for something as they plotted to make the franchise reach new heights. He’s worked with Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher.
The story has to do with plutonium cores in the hand of a terrorist madman, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), who we encountered in a previous M.I. film. In fact, the film turns out to have a reunion theme, as the characters played by Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin all show up here in Fallout. The new characters are played by Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill as CIA officers, and Vanessa Kirby as a black market arms dealer.
The plot line is convoluted but with purpose. There are wonderful instances of betrayals, or doubts and double, even triple cross, and at the core is the questioning of why Hunt even accepts these missions—what motivates him, and is there an ulterior reason. It’s great as it brings out a more vulnerable, troubled Ethan, and gives us a glimpse of this more human side—like when he’s ready to have a mission fail in order to save the life of one in the team.
But of course, as in past M.I. films, it’s the action that brings us back. In this day of superheroes and CGI enhanced scenes, it’s good to see Fallout rely on natural stunts, and create impossible camera angles to heighten the impact of these stunts. You’ll have your favorite, and mine is the Paris streets and landmarks turned into a crazy ‘video game’.
If the James Bond franchise had Skyfall as the much needed shot in the arm installment, then I would nominate Fallout as the M.I. equivalent. It’s a game changer for the franchise and puts Tom back on top. 56 years old and counting but still the "Running Man."
Lead images from @missionimpossible and @tomcruise on Instagram