Mission Impossible – Fallout (2018) Director: Christopher McQuarrie
“‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it.’ I wonder, did you ever choose not to? The end you’ve always feared is coming. And the blood will be on your hands. The fallout of all your good intentions.”
In contrast to the fan consensus, for me Fallout falls just a shade short of the previous two installments. It is a long film which left me scratching my head at certain particularly contrived moments. With that being said, the action sequences in this film are nothing short of incredible –Tom Cruise famously broke his ankle leaping across rooftops, he completed a real HALO jump out of an airplane, and then we see him zipping around the streets of Paris in a motorcycle chase scene that rivals all others, and lastly we find Cruise dangling out of a helicopter high above the ground during an intensely climactic white-knuckled helicopter chase and crash sequence that epitomizes the phrase “edge of your seat.” Tom Cruise is an icon for today’s thrill-chasing moviegoer, he famously completed almost all of the risky stunts himself (allusions to Buster Keaton abound). If you can simply shut off your brain and enjoy this wild ride, viewers will not be disappointed.
This sixth film in the franchise sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) accidentally losing several plutonium balls to the remnants of “The Syndicate,” the dark organization we learned about in Rogue Nation. Now the Syndicate is known as a group called “The Apostles” under the direction of a mystery man named John Lark. Ethan’s quest in the film is to undo his mistake at the beginning of the film and prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands while deciding between saving a handful of his friends or else thousands of unwitting civilians. The chief theme is Ethan’s guilt over not being able to rectify the wrongs of the past, or the “fallout” from his own noble intentions. In tracking down the plutonium, Ethan is joined by agent August Walker, played by Henry Cavill who co-stars in lieu of Jeremy Renner, as they work together to stage a ruse for Nils Delbruuk, a Norwegian nuclear weapons expert, which grants them data on “The Apostles” and leads them to the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), apparently the daughter of Max in the first MI film, who offers a trade –the plutonium in exchange for delivering a prisoner, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the notorious rogue operative and founder of the Syndicate whom Ethan had captured in the previous film. Ethan is also joined by his old crew of Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) as well as Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Feguson) who has been sent to assassinate Lane.
With a dizzying number of twists to the plot, backstabbings, betrayals, and high-octane action, as well as Mission Impossible‘s signature mask disguises, the IMF takes down the predictably traitorous August Walker, but they are immediately overtaken by the CIA which botches the prison transfer and allows Walker and Lane to escape to Asia where they plan to detonate two nuclear bombs high in the mountains of Kashmir, poisoning the water supply for billions of people living in India, Pakistan, and China, while also killing Ethan’s former wife who makes a surprising reappearance. The climax of the film finds the IMF team racing to locate the two bombs with only minutes until detonation, while Benji and Ilsa fight Solomon Lane, and Ethan chases Walker in what is perhaps the most intense helicopter chase sequence in cinematic history. Needless to say, the heroes save the day, however I was drawn to the film’s exploration of the hero’s guilt. If Ethan was more savage and ruthless, to what extent might he be a more successful agent? What if he simply allowed Luther to die instead of losing the plutonium? And should he have allowed August Walker to die when struck by lightning during their HALO jump at the beginning of the film? Should Ethan have killed Solomon Lane in the previous film? In some ways, Ethan’s righteous code of honor becomes his own near-downfall.