Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to check your plausibility meter at the door and enjoy watching Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, 56) run, jump, fly, shoot and crawl his way across the globe in this sixth installment of the popular spy-movie franchise. Berlin! Paris! London! New Zealand! It’s a veritable action-adventure-travelogue. There is a plot – something to do with missing plutonium, bombs, a manifesto, double-crosses galore, and millions of people at risk. But it’s the stunts, breathtaking locales and core character interactions that make for a fast-paced and engaging flick.
The action kicks off after IMF leader Hunt makes an operational error (for all the right reasons) that comes back to haunt him. He and his tight-knit team, including IT specialist Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and technician-turned-field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) must race against the clock to set things right, hampered and helped to varying degrees by a cast of characters old and new. Returning from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: bad guy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) former British MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and former CIA Director-turned-IMF Secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). New to the picture: CIA Director Erika Sloane (Angela Bassett), CIA agent August Walker (Man of Steel Henry Cavill), and philanthropist/arms dealer “The White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby).
In some respects, if you’ve seen one Mission: Impossible film, you’ve sort of seen them all, at least where the spy bits and trademark face-masks are concerned. I do appreciate, however, that each installment remains largely self-contained. Fallout builds on the main character arcs and connects the dots from previous films, but stands on its own as well, i.e. if you aren’t an expert in all things MI, you can still enjoy the ride.
Cruise launched the popular MI franchise in 1996 and it’s definitely his baby. While the first five films each featured a different director, Cruise wanted Rogue Nation writer/director Christopher McQuarrie back for Fallout. “McQ” (as Cruise calls him) obliged. And together, Cruise and McQ pushed all sorts of boundaries with the stunning visuals and death-defying stunts, one of which famously resulted in Cruise breaking an ankle while jumping between buildings in London. And that was one of the tamer stunts.
Fallout is definitely jam-packed with super-long, super-crazy action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat for nearly two-and-a-half hours. But it has some endearing qualities too – strong female characters, lots of male bonding, humor amid the tension, and even some satisfying closure to the romantic thread involving Julia (Michelle Monaghan), the woman Ethan reluctantly gave up earlier in the franchise, in order to keep her safe.
Did I say closure? Is there such a thing for a franchise that has already grossed nearly three-BILLION dollars worldwide? If Cruise doesn’t get himself maimed or worse playing stuntman on set, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him cruise toward 60 (years old) with a Mission: Impossible seven. But first, we’ve got the highly-anticipated Top Gun sequel to get through, scheduled for release next July. Brace for impact.