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Film review – Mission Impossible: Fallout

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Franchise does not self-destruct, Cruise cruises through one of the best entries in the series yet

Tom-Cruise-Mission-Impossible

It is official – there is no star like Tom Cruise. In addition to good acting chops, he does what very few actors do in action movies…his own stunts. And we are not talking run of the mill. He takes a concept and tries to stretch it to an extent which does not seem humanly possible, and yet, he pulls it off brilliantly every time. That is why his Mission Impossible series of films has lasted for so many years, and now sees the release of its sixth installment.

Let’s go back a bit. In 1996, the legendary Brian De Palma directed the first installment in the series, which revolved around a group of agents betrayed by one within its ranks and the surviving one, Ethan Hunt, has to find the culprit. The film became an instant success, due to its memorable action set pieces (the iconic “sweat palm” sequence, the train chase climax, the breaking of the giant fish tank etc). After its success, in 2000, Cruise collaborated with director John Woo for Mission Impossible 2 which, although a success, left many fans divided due to its focus on a Bollywood style love story and slow motion action (despite a memorable opening sequence with Cruise atop a mountain). TV legend J.J. Abrams was brought on board in 2006 to direct Mission Impossible 3, which featured an all-star cast besides Cruise – Michelle Monaghan and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It was a massive improvement from its predecessor, but had a bit of a “television” vibe to it, and is not particularly remembered as being a strong entry in the series (I will say that Hoffman was incredible as the villain).

With the trilogy starting to lose steam, Cruise came back with the fourth installment, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol with a new “mission” – make it fun, entertaining and completely “cinema worthy”. He recruited Brad Bird to direct, and MI4 became the most successful entry in the series. It was fun, edge of your seat and had an international cast (including Anil Kapoor). It remains my personal favorite and is the strongest film in the whole canon.

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For the fifth film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Cruise hired Christopher McQuarrie, a frequent collaborator, to write and direct. The film was a huge success, though not as much as its predecessor, but enough to have Paramount bring McQuarrie back for this newly released sixth movie, Mission Impossible: Fallout.

When I heard this, I got a tad worried. Quite frankly, I did not enjoy the fifth film because it was devoid of too much action and very plot heavy. Would the sixth film have the same vice? Let’s check it out…

I will not reveal the plot, but it more or less is reminiscent of any spy film. There are nuclear weapons, an old enemy comes back, there are double crosses, certain important characters die, there is a femme fatale, and a forbidden love. This, in a nutshell, describes the movie (or any spy movie, but we love to buy into this every time because we are not there for plot).

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt at this point. There is no flaw. He knows this character like the back of his hand and still has the superstar charisma that his fans love to see. Rebecca Ferguson is charming as Ilsa Faust, and there is something very touching about her portrayal, and you feel sympathetic toward her character. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg are awesome as always as Luther and Benji. Henry Cavill puts in a good performance as Walker, an agent hired to work with Hunt. It is particularly nice to see him in a non-Superman role. Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett are pros, but are underutilized in the movie. In fact, Baldwin’s role cheats the audience based on what happens with it. If this was the direction the filmmakers wanted to go, any other random actor could have played this role. I hope there is more to this moving forward. Sean Harris is excellent as the creepy Soloman Lane. Vanessa Kirby brings the right glamour to the film as the White Widow (hope she comes back for more films in the series!).

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To the script and direction of the movie, McQuarrie nails it this time. The movie is fast paced, with a much easier plot to follow than the last entry, and brings forth a lot of memorable action set pieces that were missing in MI5. What this leads me to believe is that McQuarrie always planned for his story to continue and was saving his genius (I do think he is a great writer-director) for this movie. I hope he comes back for the next one!

Editing is very fluid. The movie is long, but it moves at a pace where an audience member does not care. Cinematography is beautiful, especially in the climax.

I want to give a special shout out to the action team for this movie. From the France plane sequence, to the car chase, to the foot chase and to the thrilling climax, they have done a phenomenal job.

A note about the climax – it is one of the best climaxes I have seen in an action movie period. It alone is worth the price of admission. Adding to that is Cruise performing every aspect of it himself – simply amazing. He is one of the few actors who not only works tremendously hard to put forward great movies, but also puts his life on the line to do stunts simply because he does not want to cheat the audience when viewing these scenes. He is a hero. No doubt about it.

I was trying to find criticism for the movie, but there is minimal. I honestly cannot think of anything that could make this movie better. I give it a 4.5/5. Watch it in IMAX if you can. And I hope sooner rather than later, Cruise chooses to accept the next mission.

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