Reviewed by: Keith Rowe
|Featuring:||Tom Cruise … Ethan Hunt
Rebecca Ferguson … Ilsa Faust
Henry Cavill … August Walker—a CIA assassin
Vanessa Kirby … White Widow—a black market arms dealer, and the daughter of Max
Michelle Monaghan … Julia Meade-Hunt—Ethan’s wife
Wes Bentley … Patrick
Simon Pegg … Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Angela Bassett … Erica Sloan—new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Alec Baldwin … Alan Hunley—a former CIA Director who became the new IMF Secretary
Sean Harris … Solomon Lane—an anarchist mastermind
Ving Rhames … Luther Stickell
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|Director:||Christopher McQuarrie—“Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” (2015), “Jack Reacher” (2012)|
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“Some missions are not a choice”
“Mission: Impossible” Trivia
Q: When Martin Landau left the “Mission: Impossible” TV show in 1969, which notable actor stepped in to fill the vacated position in the cast? (Answer below…)
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has accepted another mission, but the operation doesn’t go as planned and three grapefruit-sized plutonium cores end up in the hands of the bad guys—self-named Apostles, whose misguided manifesto is “the greater the suffering, the greater the peace.”
To make up for the earlier mishap, where Hunt chose his team over the lives of thousands of innocent people, the IMF (specifically Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley) commissions Hunt and his team, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), to retrieve the pilfered plutonium “by any means necessary,” four words that significantly complicate matters.
The broker who can secure the plutonium for Hunt, the superhero sounding White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), asks for something audacious in return… the release of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the villain from the previous film. To ensure that Hunt doesn’t go rogue, Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) sends CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) along as a watchdog. Of course, Hunt must go rogue in order to save the world, as he always does… just in the nick of time.
Even though this is the sixth movie in the series, “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” has many firsts. This is the first “M:I” movie to be released in 3-D (RealD 3D). Christopher McQuarrie has become the first “M:I” director to call the shots on more than one film in the franchise. And while on the subject of firsts, Rebecca Ferguson, who plays MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, is the first female to appear twice in a leading role in a “M:I” film (also noteworthy is that she was pregnant while filming her scenes).
At age 56, Cruise is in amazing physical shape and still looks credible as an action star (unlike Roger Moore in his later James Bond movies). Cruise’s devotion to his craft is remarkable and his stamina is undeniable, especially since he continues to do most of his own stunts.
Cruise trained for a year in order to pull off the HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute jump in the movie. Since the scene takes place near sunset, Cruise and crew could only attempt one jump per day. With the assistance of a C-17 military aircraft and a ground crew to create a vertical wind tunnel, Cruise made over one hundred jumps at 25,000 feet just to deliver three shots for McQuarrie to use in the film. Now that’s dedication!
Not all of Cruise’s stunts were successful, though. In a scene, where he jumps from one building to another, Cruise fractured his ankle. The take was used as a key bit of action in the trailer.
Weighing in at 2 hours and 27 minutes, “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” has a longer running time than any previous film in the series. Turns out, it’s about 27 minutes too long.
That comment is no disparagement of the movie’s action sequences, which are innovative, wildly entertaining and, along with Cruise and Cavill, the main draw of the film. If “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” were to be judged solely on its high-octane action scenes, it would be a 4 star film. Unfortunately, in a summer blockbuster jam-packed with mind-blowing stunts, it’s easy to mistake spectacle for quality.
Despite having some of the finest pulse-pounding stunts in the entire series, this is a lesser “M:I” film, thanks to McQuarrie’s flaccid screenplay. The passé premise (the 80s spy movies called and want their plutonium back), trite dialog (“Family… what can you do?”) and languid storytelling (especially in the early stages of the film) are all narrative ailments the film can’t quite overcome.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have a plot… it does—a very straightforward, predictable and contrived one. People from Hunt’s past pop up at regular intervals with little explanation or preamble. Sloan’s backhanded comment about IMF agents treating every day like Halloween is amusing and incisive. Unfortunately, the movie fails to take its own hint since the mask gag is overused here. The down-to-the-last-second bomb disarming is a hackneyed story element that, thankfully, is delivered with a little self-reflexive humor here. McQuarrie trots out the tired “mole inside the operation” plot device in an effort to muddle the motivations of Hunt and Walker, but the shocking reveal is obvious from the start.
And why did Hunt and Walker have to parachute from a high altitude (a similar sequence appears in 2009s “Star Trek”)_through a lightning storm no less—just to land on the roof of a Parisian building they could’ve gained access to with a proper disguise? Maybe it’s because we get a show-stopping stunt sequence out of the deal or because the rapid plummet ties in with the movie’s title—the theme of personal and physical descent permeates the story.
So let’s take a closer look at the movie’s objectionable content. As an action movie, it goes without saying that there’s a great deal of violence here. The film covers the gamut of violent action sequences: fistfights, gun battles, knife stabbings, rooftop/car/motorcycle chases, helicopter dogfights, etc.
The well-choreographed slugfest in the bathroom is one of the most violent exchanges in the movie. Besides punching and kicking in coordinated combinations, the combatants use sink pipes or other debris as weapons. The melee is extremely brutal, and the advanced hand-to-hand combat eventually escalates to characters throwing each other through walls, stalls and sinks. To defy our expectations, the bout isn’t decided by a fist or sharp object, but rather by a bullet (which is anticlimactic). The fight concludes with the dead man being dragged across a white tiled bathroom floor, which creates a graphic streak of blood and gore.
During shootouts, we see blood spatter from people who are riddled by a hail of bullets. Several policemen are shot in one pursuit scene. A policewoman is shot in the leg by four thugs, and Hunt retaliates by gunning the four men down in a blaze of bullets. At least Hunt apologizes to the woman before his team flees the scene.
Men aren’t the only ones guilty of committing acts of violence in the film. One woman brutally stabs an assailant with a knife. Another woman repeatedly punches the villain in the face, stabs him in the leg with a broken bottle and then chokes him with a rope.
The various car/motorcycle chases result in vehicle crashes, bodies flying through the air and a great deal of property damage, which are all staples of this type of scene.
Many sequences don’t contain violence, per se, but have heightened moments of peril, like the parachute jump, the leap across buildings, a fall from a helicopter, etc. The helicopter chase is brimming with aggression as the two pilots shoot bullets at each other and try to force the other into crashing. And there is a winner-takes-all bare-handed brawl.
News footage of bombs going off in prominent places of worship around the world, rumors of the Apostles’ plan to unleash a nuclear attack (the result of which is also a tie-in with the title) worse than what occurred in WWII and a diabolical plan to contaminate the water supply to one third of the world’s population are all examples of indirect or off-screen violence. The characters also speak of an outbreak of the smallpox virus in a small village.
The movie’s profanity is moderately heavy, overall, but is extreme during the helicopter scene. That one sequence contains half of the expletives in the film. The movie has one f-word and a several s-words. Also, peppered in the dialog are a few instances each of “d**n,” “h**l,” “a**” and “b**ch.” God and Jesus’ names are taken in vain a few times in the film.
Even though the film contains no nudity, a deeply disturbing scene takes place inside a French bathroom. While Hunt and Walker are attempting to digitally scan an unconscious man’s face, a group of men walk into the bathroom and notice multiple sets of feet inside the stall. The interlopers, who assume a homosexual act is being committed, make catcalls and crude comments about joining the action. Even though what’s going on inside the stall is completely innocent, the perception of impropriety taints a scene that could’ve accomplished what it needed to without the salacious sidebar.
The action inside a French nightclub reveals partygoers in mostly proper garb (a few dresses are low-cut in the back), but otherwise the clothing is appropriate throughout the film. A few people are seen sipping on mixed drinks during the scene, which is the only instance of alcohol/drugs in the movie.
All things considered, “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” is a decent actioner with solid performances, stellar directing and mind-blowing cinematography. The location work, particularly the scenes shot in London, Paris and the United Arab Emirates, is truly exceptional and effectively simulates the continent-hopping narrative of a James Bond film.
The one thing the “M:I” films have consistently done right, and probably one of the major reasons why people keep turning out to see them, is that each new film ups the ante with its jaw-dropping, gravity-defying stunts and action scenes (like a modern-day Houdini, Cruise is a magician who keeps topping his previous death-defying feats). The last half hour of this film contains a chain of top-notch, heart-stopping action beats that may leave you gasping for air.
If you can get past the “same ole” plot elements, “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” is a riveting, thrilling popcorn flick that ends with a cliff-hanger and seems destined to be followed by another sequel.
Final thought: Hunt’s loyalty and obedience to the IMF is admirable. He accepts assignments immediately and unquestioningly, with no thought toward himself. What would the world be like if Christ followers everywhere were to accept Kingdom assignments in a similar manner? If we proceed in His power, we have nothing to fear. After all, no mission is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
A: Landau was replaced by none other than Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. The timing was perfect since Landau’s departure coincided with the cancellation of “Star Trek.” And if that isn’t enough of a coincidence, “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” both premiered in the fall of 1966 and were both developed and owned by Desilu Productions (later Paramount Television).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.