MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenwriter: Christopher McQuarrie, based on the TV series by Bruce Geller.
Runtime: 147 mins.
Australian release date: 2 August 2018
Previewed at: Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney, on 25 July 2018.
Tom Cruise is a very good actor, for the most part, and a busy one too, considering that he currently appears on our screens in two major franchises: as Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series and the eponymous hero in the Jack Reacher collection. Now in his mid-fifties, there seems to be no slowing him down and he still performs many of the daring stunts that are a feature of his films. During the making of Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible - Fallout he suffered a significant injury when he fractured an ankle while leaping across rooftops in London. The movie was put on hold for some weeks but at least it gave the other actors and crew time for some much-needed R & R during what must have been an exhausting shoot - and it still released on schedule! Cruise's film will no doubt be one of the most sought-after blockbusters during the current northern hemisphere summer; it opens this week in Australia and will probably smash the box office here as well. Critically speaking though, is it worth it?
For the action sequences, of which there are many, definitely a resounding ‘yes’. Cruise even learnt to fly a helicopter for one of the most exciting scenes in the movie, a chase through a mountain valley during which a pair of choppers execute an almost balletic routine, an aerial pas de deux as it were. However, the convoluted screenplay is over-thought (even overwrought) and downright silly in places, although it doesn't really matter because it's secondary to the stunt set pieces. It’s a pretty humourless affair that takes itself far too seriously. Suffice to say most of the old IMF crew are back for this outing (crucially Simon Pegg’s Benji, Ving Rhames's Luther and Alec Baldwin as the IMF Chief), plus Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris and Michelle Monaghan all reprise their roles from earlier films in the franchise. Ethan and the team are trying to recover three spheres of plutonium before they fall into the hands of a new terrorist group, The Apostles, made up of the remnants of Solomon Lane's (Sean Harris) criminal organisation, The Syndicate. If you're interested, you'll have to pay close attention because it gets complicated, but if you can't follow who's doing what, to whom and why, don't worry – you can just kick back and enjoy the effects.
There’s a sense of detachment to Cruise’s Hunt that’s presumably meant to give you the impression that this dispassionate approach is how he copes with his dangerous life, and without a romantic partner, but it actually serves to make him appear a bit dull. Indeed, it's hard to conjure up empathy for any of the characters in Fallout, because they're only there to drive the plot forward, not to make you care about them. The demise of a fairly significant character passes by almost in the blink of an eye, with barely a tear shed. Even when Hunt's ex-missus Julia (Michelle Monaghan) appears late in the film, supposedly to heighten the sense of threat to him, it fails to add more tension because the stakes are so high already. What does work well is Lorne Balfe's percussive score; the composer's use of various types of drum is especially suitable for the faster paced material, and another plus are the locations. British cinematographer Rob Hardy had the enviable task of filming in Paris, New Zealand, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the UK.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the sixth in the series and the second for writer/director McQuarrie after 2015’s Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. The way things are going, he and Cruise could well be collaborating on a seventh instalment because every outing usually increases the box office take of the one before. There's a scene in this latest M.I. film where Hunt is taunted by one of the bad guys with the line, “The end you’ve always feared is coming.” The rate this franchise is going, that end won't be coming any time soon – as long as Cruise's ankles hold up!