It has probably already been said, (or perhaps not, since it’s a bad pun) but the real impossible mission for a franchise is to get better with each new movie. And this movie chooses to accept it. (See, I told you it was bad.)
Perhaps the secret to this franchise is the unmistakable icon, TOM CRUISE. Cruise, despite what your personal feelings on him may be, cannot be denied how much he cares about his movies. He seems to put 110% into every one of his films, hit or miss. With a couple recent misfires, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK and the ill-fated MUMMY remake, and age starting to show, you may think Tom might be starting to phone it in, but here, we’re shown just how much he can still dedicate himself to a truly engaging adventure.
The kudos here mainly belongs to writer/director CHRISTOPHER MCQUARRIE (The Usual Suspects, Way of the Gun). He is the only returning director to this franchise after MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION and it becomes more apparent he’s the right man for the job.
With MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT McQuarrie makes a direct sequel to his first entry (and the fifth in the series) as Ethan Hunt finds himself still at odds with Solomon Lane, played by SEAN HARRIS (TV’s Lucifer, Macbeth), the head of a terrorist organization, The Syndicate. Although this time, there is a new group of radicals he does business with called “The Apostles.” This new evil group has access to plutonium and the means to use them in nuclear weapons. Ethan and his team, Luthor, played by VING RHAMES (Undisputed, Father Figures), and Benji, played by SIMON PEGG (Hot Fuzz, Ready Player One), are seen responsible for this, and thus, must go on a new task under the supervision of a CIA agent, Walker, played by a great mustachioed HENRY CAVILL (Man of Steel, Justice League).
This basic premise has actually been done a few times within this series, although what makes this all the more impressive is how it treats both its material and its audience. In both “Rogue Nation” and this film, Hunt’s organization, IMF, is trying to prove its relevance in the modern world. People feel it is dated and that age of espionage and unorthodox tactics has high risk in a current information-heavy society. This film, all the same, is trying to prove this franchise can still take a classic concept and drive it in a fresh and exciting direction and it does just that. You expect twists and turns (and some may even be predictable), but it all unfolds in such an entertaining way. At certain points, this movie felt meta. It’s as if McQuarrie knew there will be certain hallmarks and expected action scenes, so he presents them in a way we haven’t seen — things go wrong and there are many close calls that could rival official reviews after every NFL diving catch. It’s also as if he knows that there’s a humorous fascination with Tom Cruise always running in movies, so he puts an extended foot chase in here that could be his best.
The less revealed about the plot, the better, as it’s best to go in fresh. But even with its intricacies, the real stand out here is all the action. Every single set piece, orchestrated by Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator, WADE EASTWOOD, really ramps up the way the action serves the story and wows the audience. A lot of praise goes to Eastwood and his team. CGI superheroes and fantasy sci-fi dominate the box office and those sequences that once took our breath away with all the capabilities of this tool can now grow stale and look synthetic. Here, the camera seemingly follows the action through impossible means, but you feel the gravity of every consequence. A helicopter chase could’ve easily looked like a Star Wars dogfight with them zipping through the sky and spinning with smooth maneuvers. But here, Tom pilots with such technique and ingenuity, you live and die with every decision he makes in the helicopter. Every car chase doesn’t treat its obstacles lightly and no one is immune from them.
To further compliment the action, we get some real enthralling hand-to-hand combat scenes. Tom continues to evolve his Keysi fighting style, which he’s used in past movies and he looks as fast and as fluid as ever. Cavill uses his Superman physique to his advantage as a power puncher that resembles prime-Mike Tyson. Fight coordinator WOLFGANG STEGEMANN has put together fight scenes that are complex, technical and completely crowd-pleasing. A two-on-one bathroom fight featuring LIANG YANG (in his debut) showcases some of the best choreography in current American action cinema. It perfectly treads the line of fancy martial arts and gritty brawling, utilizing the environment and making the landings look painful, it’s right up there with the best fight sequences of the year.
It’s also noteworthy that those who grow weary of over-edited fight scenes and shaky cam shots have nothing to worry about here and we can rejoice in the awe of Tom making his mark as an American Jackie Chan. He continues to perform his own fighting and his own stunts and even injured his leg attempting a roof jump that eventually delayed production, but he finished the take with gusto, which is classic Jackie.
Mission: Impossible, like most movie series, continually broadens its scope. The strength of this franchise is how it treats a worldwide threat with intimate drama where you care about the characters, no matter how much development they get. It’s great to see a character rivalry back in an action movie where it isn’t just about the job. It’s great to be invested in something that throws so much action at you that it isn’t just an endurance test on the senses. This may be an early call, but this may be my favorite entry so far and I can’t wait to see more.
Written by Guest Reviewer: E.J. Tangonan (www.ejtangonan.weebly.com)