Thursday, 26 July 2018

Mission Impossible Fallout - Review

"There cannot be peace without first a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace"

It is a line that is repeated throughout Mission:Impossible Fallout and it is a line that is true of this particular instalment and the franchise in general.
When you look at Fallout, the suffering can be the physical suffering that Tom Cruise went through when he broke his ankle performing a stunt that involved jumping off a building. It was the insurance company's worst nightmare come true (and one that had surprisingly not happened before) but Cruise being Cruise, he took a couple of weeks off and was back at it again. Further cementing the theory that he is superhuman.
The other suffering that was endured during filming was the suffering of Justice League due to Henry Cavill's moustache. Cavill was needed for reshoots on JL but Paramount said you can have him but he cannot shave off the 'tache. Everyone joked about it at the time but the end result of a CGI upper lip was even worse.
However upon seeing the end result of Fallout, the suffering of Cruise and JL was completely worth it because this cements Mission Impossible franchise as the most dependable franchise currently going and one that is rather unique in that they improve in scope, scale and action from film to film.
Further to that, this franchise is something that 22 years ago, never looked like becoming what it is today. Yet after the critical mauling of the (underrated) Mission Impossible II, it has slowly evolved to become what it is today. I say evolved but Cruise has never really changed anything because they have always had a different director for each episode (with the exception of Fallout with the return of McQuarrie) to put their own spin on the franchise.
But something just clicked with Ghost Protocol, where the series seemed to find the magic mix of ingredients that proved successful. Similar to the Fast & Furious franchise when The Rock arrived in Fast Five and has gone from strength to strength.
Fallout is the culmination of a story thread that has run through Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation. One that has involved a shadowy counter-IMF organisation called The Syndicate and one that has tied itself intrinsically into the lives of agents Ethan Hunt, Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, who is the first female agent to return for a second instalment).
One criticism of the franchise, beyond the fact that it fails the Bechdel Test every time, is that similar to the Marvel movies, they can lack a memorable villain. Dougray Scott anyone?
The series high point so far was Philip Seymour Hoffman's Owen Davian in III but Harris has a unique brand of menace which works.
But both of these are the villains who can fight Hunt intellectually and emotionally but are not a physical threat. Fallout finally produces an antagonist that can go toe-to-toe with Hunt and dominate him in hand-to-hand combat.
Henry Cavill's Agent Walker isn't an out-and-out villain however. Rather a CIA agent tasked with joining the team but there to take down Hunt is he goes rogue. Which is something that he does every single movie so it is no real surprise that this puts the two characters on a collision course.
Thankfully McQuarrie's story does not rely on McGuffins such as the "rabbit's foot" but a traditional spy movie "world ending" scenario involving missing plutonium and nuclear devices that need to be defused at the last possible second.
When executed correctly, that moment can be incredibly tense, exciting and one where the audience are holding their breath along with the characters.
That is how the audience will feel for every second of the truly exhilarating Fallout for this is *THE* best blockbuster movie of the Summer and one that moves effortlessly from one incredible set piece to incredible set piece.
Whether it is a bathroom fight that makes Casino Royale look like Johnny English; a foot chase through the rooftops of London; a dogfight between two helicopters or an incredible boat/truck/car/bike chase through the streets of Paris which is possibly the high point of the series... which is impressive in itself.
The majority of these stunts are performed by real stunt crews within the camera with very little reliance on CGI. It is a hark back to an earlier time and it shows how good these people are and it helps audiences relate and buy in and become more invested in the action when they know that it is the actors and their stunt doubles actually performing the stunts.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise as a person. As a pure action movie star, there is still no one in Hollywood who could possibly compare to him. It doesn't matter if you are Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig or even Jason Statham. You will be left holding Cruise's beer as he jumps out of a plane!
Mission Impossible might be the most incorrectly named franchise in the world but it is impossible to imagine a better example of a pure thrill ride this year.
The other line that is often repeated in the film is "Your mission if you choose to except it...". As far as one can remember, no one has ever chosen *not* to except a mission and if the films continue to set the bar for action, to the point that Cruise leaps on to and tap dances on the bar, then bring it on.

5 stars

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