Movie Review — Mission Impossible: Fallout
When cinema’s most famous espionage franchise (the James Bond franchise) decided to give itself a do-over to make it relevant to the 21st century audience, it introduced a gruff and brawny leading man in the person of Daniel Craig.
However, when cinema’s second most famous espionage franchise decided to keep its franchise still relevant to movie audiences, it retained its age-defying leading man but upped the ante in terms of spine-tingling action sequences and snazzy gadgetry that will give the James Bond franchise a run for its money.
When Mission Impossible first debuted at the cinemas in 1996, it famously left movie audiences confused as to its storyline. Two more sequels followed in 2000 and 2006 respectively that did nothing to elevate the franchise to the cult level of the Bond franchise.
Then in 2011, Ghost Protocol did the “needpossible” if not quite the impossible; it gave the franchise a much-needed shot of adrenaline to keep it within the cross hairs of movie goers. The stunts and action sequences in Ghost Protocol resonated with movie audiences and gave the franchise a much-needed lifeline.
If movie goers thought Ghost Protocol was a suspense-filled Burj Khalifa-esque thrill ride, 2015’s Rogue Nation grabbed them from the high of that ride and plunged them into the depths of waters below leaving them almost as breathless as Ethan Hunt during an under-water chip switch.
The one constant in this franchise rejuvenation is leading man, Ethan Hunt inimitably played by the age-defying adrenalin-junkie, Tom Cruise. Cruise is famous not just for his couch jumping display on Oprah years back but also for his total commitment to his art as an actor.
By total commitment, I mean Cruise is famous for stretching the bounds of cinematic realism by insisting on doing his own stunts much to the chagrin of his insurers.
Years back while shooting Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, Cruise was reported to have offered to be injected with a drug that would temporarily paralyze him from the waist down to enable him portray realistically the character of Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam war veteran.
In Fallout, the 6th iteration of the franchise, Cruise gets to do most of his stunts himself one of which left him with a broken ankle following a hair-raising building to building jump. He also snagged another first with the first HALO jump (High altitude, low opening) to be performed by an actor in a movie. This stunt saw him actually make over a hundred sky jumps to get the perfect take for the sequence.
In Fallout, it’s been 2 years since the events of Rogue Nation. Ethan Hunt is still plagued by the nightmare of his love gone awry. But there is a new challenge posed by a foe from recent times past. Throw in 3 plutonium cores about to be sold to the remnants of the Syndicate from Rogue Nation now renamed the Apostles and you have a “Your mission should you choose to accept” situation that is right up Ethan Hunt’s alley.
The usual franchise plot devices of double cross and counter double cross and the good guy who is not quite the good guy and the bad guy who is not quite the bad guy are judiciously deployed to great effect in Fallout.
But it is in the fight and chase stunt sequences that Fallout really lets loose and takes the audience on a ride that ups the ante it has thrilled them with 5 movies down the line.
In a bathroom fight sequence that redefines gritty and in-your-face viscerality, Fallout impresses with a well-choreographed 2 on 1 fight sequence that borrows from a similar 2 on 1 London subway fight sequence in Fast & Furious 6 but surpasses it in sheer intensity.
In a car v. motor bike chase sequence through the streets of Paris, Fallout reprises a similar sequence from Rogue Nation but amps it to giddy heights. The franchise regular bad guy-extraction sequences do not disappoint either as they leave you with a delightful tingling sensation that reminds you why you love the escapism of movies.
In the final action sequence, Fallout pulls out all the stops as it literally lifts you on a hair-raising helicopter chase sequence and dumps you in the middle of a cliffhanger fight scene that will leave you with vertigo if you are not already so afflicted.
The undisputed star of the Mission Impossible franchise has always been both Ethan Hunt and Tom Cruise in their fictional and real-life capacities respectively. The line between character and actor is so blurred that sometimes it is difficult to tell when the character stops and the actor begins. Given both Cruise’s and Hunt’s well-known addiction to adrenalin-fueled thrills, there is a chicken and egg mystery as to whom is the real adrenalin junkie between actor and character.
In Fallout, Cruise gave unarguably his best performance of Ethan Hunt. He was in no way the indestructible super hero as he could bleed and he did bleed. But you could not ignore the drive and singularity of purpose that assured you that come hell or high water, he would best the bad guys and get the job done just in the nick of time.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is without a doubt the best installment in the franchise. It was a non-stop espionage thrill ride that immerses you in a visceral 2 hour plus cinematic experience the fallout of which reminds you why Tom Cruise is such a consummate action movie star, and also why you need the escapism of movies every now and then.8/10