Let’s talk about Mission: Impossible — Fallout.
It wasn’t that long ago that people looked down on the Mission: Impossible franchise. While none of the movies were bad, it was seen as Tom Cruise’s attempt to be an American James Bond and it was more wtching someone do their hobbies than truly thrilling actions movies.
That has changed recently. Both Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation were universally beloved, even if I thought the latter was actually rather flawed. Some even dared to say it had surpassed James Bond! That would have been sacrilege to say a few years ago.
But with the release of Fallout, they can legitimately say that even if this is a very different sort of movie to the original released all the way back in the 1990s. Even in the good Mission: Impossible movies, it always felt like the plot was the last thing completed and really it was just made to get Tom Cruise from stunt to ridiculous stunt. For the first time ever, the plot is the most important thing. It’s dark, intense and well-earned. There’s a feeling of dread throughout the movie where it just feels like everything is about to go disastrously wrong. Even though every movie in this series has the villain try to destroy the world in some way, this is the first time it really feels like it could happen.
The action differs because of this change in tone too. Instead of the fairly standard fighting and chase beats you got in previous films, you get things that seem more John Wick than Ethan Hunt. The fighting is properly brutal, especially an early scene in a bathroom which basically whacks you in the head with a pipe alongside our heroes. Got to give the Foley art guys props for this one, it was the sound of those punches which really made it hurt. There’s even a reluctance to make the action thrilling and instead tense which is really weird for this franchise. A car chase through the streets of Paris is done entirely without music or pithy comments, instead the only sound you hear is the roaring engines as the director Christoher Quarrie ramps up the tension and the stakes.
If you feel like this is no longer a Mission: Impossible movie, fear not. This still has all the trademarks of the series. There is a scene of Tom Cruise running for five minutes straight, interupted briefly by him jumping across buildings. Amazingly, it was this stunt that finally injured Cruise and not when he clung to the side of a plane in the last one. The ridiculous stunts are still here as well, with Cruise halo jumping, good but not as good as Godzilla, and one heart stopping moment as he climbs up a rope attached to a flying helicopter. Thankfully this moment comes towards the end. Usually because the writers can’t find anyway to make the most ludicrous stunts relevant the plot they end up chucking them before the opening credits so Cruise has his reason to be stupid for the year. Here, they build up to it so you don’t blow your biggest moment in the first few minutes.
My only problem is that the because of the change in tone, some of the traditional moments don’t work anymore. That whole thing when five different people come in and reveal how their plan outsmarted the last guy who came in with a plan? Yeah it’s a bit silly when the stakes are built up so high. And as much as it’s a tiny thing, the whole opening credits gambit with the fuse going down and the 90s style archive clips being used also doesn’t really fit anymore. But I suppose with a 22-year-old franchise that has built up so many traditions you have to give in to these things or the fans will go mad.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout is the best film in the franchise and one of the best action films of the year. It shows why this series is a stand out and why it has survived so long. Unfortunately they haven’t done so well recently, probably because Cruise is not the box office draw he once was. But if you can, go see it because it’s another example that if you do action for real, the audience will believe it and go for the ride.