When I first walked out of a screening of Mission Impossible: Fallout, my main thoughts were that it was just okay. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film overall – the craft on display was impeccable and the action sequences and stunts are fist pumping HOLY SHIT! moments in ways the series hasn’t done on this scale before.
But I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed by the general plot, most of its awesome beats given away by the film’s first trailer, that I was solely focusing on what could’ve been instead of what the ride was like.
I had a nap, as old men like me often do, and I awoke with a newfound appreciation of the film that I saw mere hours ago.
You see, Fallout may feature a plot all too obvious and familiar but the key is in the details – how it highlights small emotional beats while bringing together its small cast of characters, some of them built across all six films. How the clarity of the action sequences, their dazzling choreography and Cruise’s commitment to the stunts and character provide spectacle in a raw and viscerally exciting way.
The overall journey is fun as well, with the ensemble given moments for sly humour, exciting moments in the underbelly of Paris and some familiar faces showing up along for the ride.
The cast are excellent across the board. Rebecca Ferguson is radiant and brings to the film an emotional pull, while Ving Rhames gets more to do as Luther, Hunt’s old ally. Simon Pegg is ever reliable as Benji, even getting to be more active this time around in terms of the set pieces and such, while Tom Cruise proves he’s not slowing down as he’s getting older. The man’s insane.
Notable additions to the series are Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Henry Cavil, all lending solid support. Kirby, stealing every scene she’s in, is White Widow, a black market arms dealer who’s all femme fatale, danger and intrigue.
Henry Cavil, I feel, is a beast here in the film – a savage bathroom scene comes to mind – though I would’ve liked a bit more time with his character’s mind, especially later in the film. That might be a nitpick though – he’s still a fun addition to the cast.
Angela Bassett has a minor role and doesn’t get much to do outside of verbally sparring with IMF’s Hunley, but she’s still a notable presence in the series and delivers.
Much has been said about the film’s stunts and action and I agree – it’s ferocious, insane and well worth the price of admission. Whether Ethan / Cruise is parachuting out an aircraft or clutching to a rope being dragged across the sky by a heli, it’s breath-caught-in-throat set pieces in a way MI hasn’t done before.
So. Is Mission Impossible: Fallout one of the greatest action films of all time? I don’t know about that. Is it one of the better action films of the modern action film era? I would say that that’s a safe bet. Is it the best MI yet? I may need to rewatch the series to get my bearings on that. Do we, should we care? I don’t know man – if you’re here for the stunts and crazy action, then you’ll get those exhilarating moments in spades like a true feast for the eyes and mind.
While it’s story is serviceable, even predictable, the film is ultimately fun in the end. It does what it says it would on the tin, and sometimes that’s just all you need for a fun popcorn action film.
J’s Verdict: ☆☆☆1/2