Film Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

Tom Cruise accepts his next mission with more impossible odds…

 

MI Fallout

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt is ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ (image belongs: Paramount Pictures, used for illustrative purposes only).

Spoiler-free review

Starring:  Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Angela Bassett

Directed and written by:  Christopher McQuarrie / 147 minutes

What’s it about?

Tasked with retrieving three nuclear devices stolen after a botched mission, Ethan Hunt and his team are coupled with a CIA overseer as they race to prevent the death of millions…

In review

As many critics have already cited, it’s rare for a film series to continue to go from strength to strength after so many instalments but the Mission: Impossible franchise once again proves unstoppable and relentlessly enthralling with the newly released sixth entry, Fallout.  Returning writer/director Christopher McQuarrie pulls out all the stops as superstar Tom Cruise performs more death defying, pulse-pounding and vertigo-inducing stunts that keep audiences coming back for more.

Serving as a direct sequel to Rogue Nation, Mission: Impossible – Fallout sees Impossible Mission Force Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) called upon to undertake another daring assignment, this time to recover three nuclear devices which have fallen into the hands of a terrorist group that has arisen in the wake of the capture of Solomon Lane (the ever-raspy Sean Harris).  With the mission ending in failure, Hunt and his team – Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) – are forcefully coupled with CIA chief Erica Sloan’s (Angela Bassett) top agent August Walker, played by Justice League’s Henry Cavill, in a race against the clock to prevent global chaos.

As always, the cast is great (although the absence of Jeremy Renner this time out is initially felt) – not in the least Tom Cruise who, bar his passionate and unwavering commitment to the action, also brings that human quality to the character of Ethan Hunt, a man who will stop at nothing to protect everything – and everyone – he cares about.  Mission: Impossible really is nothing without him.  As Agent Walker, Henry Cavill is a force to be reckoned with pulling no punches (often literally) in his scenes with Cruise and is quite a powerful asset to the film and the ‘interference’ of the CIA in the IMF’s operations facilitates some neat dramatic moments, between Cruise and Cavill as well as Bassett and Alec Baldwin, who reprises the role of Secretary Alan Hunley.

Hunt’s mission becomes all the more personal as he crosses paths with some old faces.  Harris’s Lane notwithstanding, we see the return of Rebecca Ferguson’s MI6 spy Isla Faust and Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s ex-wife Julia.  Ferguson in particular is a highlight (as she was in Rogue Nation) and again has strong chemistry with Cruise but the inclusion of all three returning actors, coupled with call-backs to the earlier films and homages to Bruce Geller’s original television series provides a sense of history that’s rewarding for fans of the franchise.

Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay provides Mission: Impossible – Fallout with plenty of intrigue, spectacle and drama that’s enhanced by numerous twists and turns that will keep viewers on their toes and the edge of their seats.  Tonally, there’s a bit of a darker edge to Fallout that gives it a slightly different flavour from previous instalments which helps keep things fresh and ensures the tension remains high throughout.

The action is truly first class and easily meets expectations from a brutal bathroom fight to rival Casino Royale to set-pieces that range from a sky diving jump, chases on foot, by motor and by river to the incredible and prolonged helicopter pursuit that forms part of the breathlessly exciting finale.  Spread across locations including Paris, London and Kashmir, it’s all handled with relative ease and skill by director McQuarrie, deftly executed by Cruise and the rest of the cast and made all the more appealing by the exemplary cinematography.

If you’re a fan of these films and the action genre in general then it’s a no-brainer so strap yourself in for one hell of a ride.

The bottom line:  The Mission: Impossible series continues to thrill in an exciting, intelligent and arresting action blockbuster that’s a cut above the rest.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in cinemas now.

Film Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ (spoiler free)

Mission accomplished?

Starring:  Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris

Directed by:  Christopher McQuarrie / Written by:  Christopher McQuarrie (story by Christopher McQuarrie and Drew Pearce) / 131 minutes

What’s it about?

With the IMF disbanded, Ethan Hunt and his teammates must evade capture by the CIA whilst they seek to thwart the plans of the mysterious rogue organisation known as The Syndicate…

In review

Rogue Nation is the fifth instalment of Tom Cruise’s popular action film franchise based on the classic television series which ran during the late sixties/early seventies (and resurrected briefly in the 1980s).  With 2011’s Ghost Protocol proving a huge critical and financial hit, the pressure was surely on to make the IMF’s latest adventure as big and good as, if not better than their previous outing.

Rogue Nation largely succeeds and is undoubtedly a strong and reliable addition to the series, whilst there may be a touch of the familiar the filmmakers have deftly straddled the line of delivering everything that made Ghost Protocol work so well whilst ensuring that there are enough fresh elements to complement the overall ‘package’.

Director/screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (who has worked with Tom Cruise previously on Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow) succeeds Brian DePalma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird as creative master of this newest Mission: Impossible and demonstrates a talented ability to skilfully stage the adrenalin infused large scale action set-pieces audiences have come to expect from the M:I series and present a labyrinthine spy narrative that never ceases to surprise with its numerous twist and turns.

Of course, the star of the show is Tom Cruise himself bringing the same relentless drive that has aided in the success of the Mission: Impossible film series.  Cruise injects the character of Ethan Hunt with the usual charisma and skill but as always it’s his extraordinary commitment to the film’s action and stunts that makes much of Rogue Nation so exhilarating, from clinging to the side of a cargo plane as it goes airborne, to trading heavy blows with Jens Hulten’s henchman through to the intense motorbike and car chases.  Yet, it’s actually a novel twist on the computer vault-data theft plot device from the first Mission: Impossible that stands out as one of the most exciting and daring action sequences in Rogue Nation.  Once again there are beautiful and varied locations, this time including Vienna, Morocco and London with some striking imagery provided by cinematographer Robert Elswit.

Returning from duty in Ghost Protocol are Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames.  Although Renner and Rhames are a little sidelined, Pegg’s role as Benji Dunn is once again significantly larger than his cameo in J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III and, as with Ghost Protocol, Pegg proves able to play both the comedic and the dramatic (and moments of both feel well balanced and well executed in Rogue Nation) effectively.  Alec Baldwin brings some decent star power to bolster proceedings as the CIA man charged with apprehending Hunt and his team and whilst Sean Harris’s raspy-voiced main antagonist isn’t as well defined and as menacing as some of the greatest Bond villains, he’s non-the-less suitably psychotic.

Aiding Hunt is Isla Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson), a character with torn loyalties upon which much of the mystery and intrigue of Rogue Nation centres on.  The character of Faust and the manner in which she is played by Ferguson is a huge asset to the film and it would be welcome to see the series break trend and have her return for the already mooted sixth Mission: Impossible.

All in all, Rogue Nation is another mission safely and solidly accomplished.

The bottom line:  Rogue Nation is another successful big screen Mission: Impossible venture for producer/star Tom Cruise and his various collaborators with high stakes action combined with an intriguing and twisty spy plot.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is in cinemas now.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team of spies return to action in Paramount Pictures' 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation'.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team of spies return to action in Paramount Pictures’ ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’.