By Chic DiCiccio
In “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” Tom Cruise hangs from a helicopter, leaps from one London rooftop to the next, and goes full throttle on a motorcycle around the Arc de Triomphe. Please keep in mind it’s all being done by a 56-year-old human being who carries this entire movie franchise on his shoulders. The insurance coverage alone for Cruise has to account for a huge chunk of this action flick’s budget.
Every penny is perfectly spent. Returning director/writer Christopher McQuarrie has not only crafted one of the slickest, most thrilling action movies in years, he’s written an intelligent script with more backstory into Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and several subtle homages to the previous “M:I” films. “Fallout” should relieve the stink of “The Mummy” from Cruise’s resume and firmly re-establish him as Earth’s favorite movie star.
“Fallout” brings back the majority of the cast from the previous three or four films. Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monaghan, Rebecca Ferguson and, of course, Ving Rhames (he’s appeared in the entire series) all return and it allows for a sense of continuity while still operating in a singular, contained story.
However, the smartest move that McQuarrie’s script makes is the return of Sean Harris’ terrorist bad guy, Solomon Lane. The villains in this series have been fairly one note evil dudes destined to lose to Ethan Hunt. Harris’s Lane is the perfect foil for Ethan and he’s so twisted and creepy that it’s a definite possibility his dastardly plans may actually succeed.
Those plans involve a shadowy terrorist group’s attempt to acquire three nuclear warheads. After a spectacular mission failure, Ethan, Luther and Benji are required by the director of the CIA (Angela Bassett) to bring August Walker (Henry Cavill) along in their efforts to recover the warheads first.
Since this is a “Mission: Impossible” flick, there are approximately one dozen plot twists and a massive moment that could possibly be telegraphed if you had a moment to catch your breath. The action is nonstop and shot so perfectly by cinematographer Rob Hardy that it’s nearly impossible to realize where everything is heading until it smacks you in the face.
The showstopper happens fairly early on when Ethan executes a high altitude, low opening parachute jump from an airplane. Make no mistake, that is not CGI. That is, in fact, Tom Cruise leaping from an airplane at approximately 25,000 feet.
Overall, “Fallout” definitely benefits from the lack of CGI and dependence on practical effects. It allows the camera to stay on Cruise without quick edits or camerawork designed to obscure his face. When Ethan leaps from a building, recovers, and limps off, it’s believable and one of the many reasons this movie keeps your heart racing.
There’s little doubt that Cruise is fully committed to this role and franchise. You can point at countless times when stars phone it in while playing the same role over and over, but that can’t even be argued in this case. At some point, it may be okay to acknowledge his age in the role … but not if the franchise continues to pump out fantastic entries like “Fallout.”
Simply put, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is perhaps the action movie of the year and establishes the franchise as the most clever, original and thrilling one currently in production.