Mission: Impossible – Fallout Review

Mission: Impossible - Fallout
An Impossible Mission Force mission goes wrong, so that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team must protect the world from a fresh nuclear threat. But with the CIA’s Agent Walker (Henry Cavill) sent to keep an eye on him, Ethan will face an uphill battle to show that he can still save the day.

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on
Release Date:

26 Jul 2018

Original Title:

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The key word for this franchise is not “impossible”. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team always find a way. It’s “mission” because these films are all about the job. Ethan Hunt barely ever pauses to let his love life interfere with his work, nor does he take time to swot up on his wine knowledge or choose a new bespoke suit. But each time he chooses a mission, what follows steadily are adrenalin-triggering exploits, loosely strung together by double-crosses and chicanery. And at the heart of it is the biggest movie star on the planet, still, a man who risks life and limb each time he steps up, to accomplish stunts we’ve never seen. Tom Cruise probably climbs the Cliffs Of Insanity before breakfast and rappels back down using his own discarded M hair. He’s sort of breathtaking.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The plot sees Hunt face a terrifying nuclear threat from the acolytes of imprisoned anarchist baddie Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, still on supremely creepy form). Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust crosses his path again, on a conflicting mission of her own, while CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill, with moustache) is foisted on Hunt as a minder. He’s a hammer to Hunt’s scalpel, as CIA chief Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) puts it, and despite the effectiveness of their partnership the two immediately clash.

If the first hour seems a little slow, that’s only in comparison to a virtually flawless finale.

But while the cast are superb and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s character scenes quick but effective — Hunt’s personal life gets perhaps ten minutes in total here, though that packs a punch — the film comes alive in its jaw-droppingly effective action. There are car chases, fist fights, rooftop races and a helicopter pursuit against stunning scenery. But such descriptions don’t do them justice: this Paris set-piece is a car chase in the same way that Mad Max: Fury Road is basically a car chase. A bathroom brawl becomes a visceral, bruising struggle to the death. McQuarrie and Cruise push each scene a little further than you think they can, adding an unexpected flourish or upping the stakes in a way that feels fresh, so that you can never quite predict Hunt’s limits. If the first hour seems a little slow in retrospect, that’s only in comparison to a virtually flawless finale.

It’s also really clever. The villainous plot to use the nukes, and Hunt’s response, more-or-less makes sense, as with any of these films. But what’s deeply satisfying is the way that McQuarrie layers character moments in the unlikeliest ways: bonding over bomb defusion, or an expression of purest trust when faced with the highest stakes imaginable. Even an escape by boat becomes a moment of delightful ingenuity, and a celebration of Hunt’s ability to plan his way past the creaking limits of his own endurance (and Cruise isn’t scared to show physical and emotional vulnerability here, even as he pushes himself back to his feet and goes after his target for the umpteenth time).

Every Mission: Impossible film and TV episode poses its hero the same offer: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” is as close as the series comes to having a catchphrase. Here, McQuarrie finally asks what sort of man keeps accepting those missions; what drives someone to put their life on the line again and again? For Hunt, the answer is simple. He can save people, and therefore he has a responsibility to act. For Cruise — and McQuarrie — it’s an eternal quest to outdo the last effort. They’re only making the next one difficult by succeeding this hard.

A combination of thrilling stunts, insane daring and clever writing make this a stunning piece of action cinema. Just be sure to take your heart meds first, and hold on tight.
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