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Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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by Jay Seaver

"A different sort of 'Mission', and maybe the best."
5 stars

As much as "Mission: Impossible" has been one of the most reliable action-movie franchises of the past twenty years, that reliability has arguably come at the cost of the distinctive voices Brian De Palma and John Woo brought to the series - J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and Christopher McQuarrie are all talented guys, but it's fair to suggest that they didn't bring the sort of individual stamp to a movie that De Palma and Woo did, at least at that point in their careers, and bringing McQuarrie back seems like the least adventurous choice. And yet, that continuity at times seems like the biggest shift in direction the series in years, giving it an extra zing to a movie that already boasts some of the most astounding action sequences of the year.

It's been a couple of years since the events of Rogue Nation, but the IMF thwarting the plans of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and capturing him has not simply decapitated his organization; "The Syndicate" is now "The Apostles", but still aimed at bringing about global anarchy. Their new plan involves nukes built by anti-religious crusader Nils Debruuk (Kristoffer Joner). After a mission by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to recover a box of missing plutonium goes awry with the reappearance of sometime-ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the CIA insists on adding their own muscle, August Walker (Henry Cavill) to Hunt's team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) as they try to retrieve it from broker "White Widow" (Vanessa Kirby) - who has her own conditions for arranging the transfer that put Hunt in quite a spot.

There's big advantages to not starting from zero, and while McQuarrie is good about establishing what someone seeing their first M:I movie needs to know, there's something great about not having to spend time making things personal for Hunt the way that the other movies often do - in fact McQuarrie kind of uses the fact that there is bad blood between Lane and Hunt as something that can simmer in the background while pushing something much more basic forward: There's a fundamental philosophical difference between Hunt, who can't bear to sacrifice even one person for a clearly-defined greater good, and the Apostles, whose plans are apocalyptic but vague (basic "tear it down to start anew" stuff) with personal revenge being a bonus. McQuarrie does a nice job of attacking this directly, tilting the audience's sympathies toward Hunt at the personal level while still presenting how tempting pragmatism can be.

Part of why that works is because of how McQuarrie frames the early action; <I>Fallout</I> has plenty of shadows as it builds up, with the initial plutonium exchange classic spy-movie stuff. The script builds convolutions that are more John LeCarré than Ian Fleming, and the very fact that it starts from the aftermath of the previous movie rather than introducing a wholly new threat is a reminder of how murky Hunt's line of work is, without clear victors even after a big, climactic finale. It's not terribly difficult to follow, but it also has moments when it makes jabs at the series's more fantastic elements.

Of course, the Mission: Impossible movies have become in large part identified with their large, spectacular action sequences, and it's easy to talk about how a couple of them are massive and look extremely dangerous for Cruise (which perhaps should instead be a compliment to the stunt crew that makes dangerous things relatively safe) - a HALO jump and a sequence that has him dangling from a helicopter - some of the smaller ones are just as astonishing in their own way, especially for the emotion involved: A men's-room fight emphasizes what a brute-force weapon Walker is, while a race across London is tense and funny and plays out as Hunt's distilled determination. The same goes for the fantastic finale, which is huge in scale but isn't just the big stunt and helicopter chase - it has room for a whole bunch of characters and has a little bit of everything, and nobody is ever just gritting their teeth or concentrating on hitting specific marks, yes, but every move speaks to who the heroes and villains are.

Indeed, it's a bunch of fun to watch Tom Cruise during these scenes, bringing Hunt's fear of failure out just as much as his determination, a neat contrast to the easy, unquestioning, confidence that Henry Cavill gives Walker. Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby find different sorts of playfulness in the midst of serious business, and it becomes a lot of fun to compare and contrast Michelle Monaghan and Rebecca Ferguson later on, to the point where one wonders if McQuarrie was planning a movie ahead by casting Ferguson, who resembles Monaghan a bit but carries her character differently.

If he didn't, he certainly makes good use of it, and it will probably be interesting to watch all six of these movies in close proximity to see how McQuarrie weaves together bits from the previous movies that were likely not planned as particularly connected, deftly noting how a series that has gone on this long threatens to collapse under its own weight or grow bland through repeated formula. It's terrific on its own or as a sort of "season finale".

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=31242&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/06/18 00:14:47
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User Comments

12/24/18 M:I SCALE - 4>6>5>3=1>2 It's aight. 4 stars
9/11/18 Charles Tatum Truly Majestic, quite incredible entertain-girl-t. 5 stars
9/03/18 Louise A stunning masterpiece, one of the best films of all-time. 5 stars
8/08/18 the giver of the law Quite simply, a masterpiece. Totally unimprovable perfection from first frame to last. 5 stars
8/01/18 Bob Dog M:I forgets the mission yet again - still stuck in inter-office politics. 2 stars
7/30/18 Koitus Confusing; repetitive stunts from MI 5; unrealistic marksmanship.. 3 stars
7/28/18 teddy crescendo unmitigated cinematic genius from first frame to last. 5 stars
7/27/18 morris campbell THE BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER IMHO 4 stars
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  27-Jul-2018 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2018


  DVD: 04-Dec-2018

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