Danger after danger,
And mission after mission,
Facing constant opposition,
Can exact a taxing toll
On the few who fight for strangers
Who know nothing of their role.
Mission after mission
Must depend on these defenders
Who know nothing of surrenders.
They are safety’s heart and soul,
Keeping evil in remission
And the world under control.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Well, it took a little longer than I was expecting, but here at last is the final installment of my Mission: Impossible marathon, a chance to catch up with this franchise that started way back in August. I had intended to see Fallout at a second-run theater after watching Rogue Nation, but sadly I missed it and had to wait for the DVD. Hearing all the praise for this latest film only raised my hopes that it would match its predecessors, and, at least in the action department, it didn’t disappoint.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about M:I films since J.J. Abrams got involved back with Mission: Impossible III is the greater focus on continuity. They each had their own storylines and their own characters that were mysteriously never seen again, but there were carryovers beyond Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt alone. Ving Rhames is still around since the first film, and Fallout sees the welcome return of other characters too, like Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn, Alec Baldwin’s IMF Secretary, Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s wife Julia, Rebecca Ferguson’s British agent Ilsa Faust, and Sean Harris’s hissable villain Solomon Lane from Rogue Nation. As the only villain to not be outright killed by movie’s end, it made sense to bring Lane back for another round, though I really wish they could have gotten Jeremy Renner back again. While the constant action depends on the characterization established in past films, the IMF crew have their team dynamic down to a science, and they bounce off each other splendidly, with Ferguson fitting in well in her second outing as Hunt’s female equivalent.
Of course, there are new faces too, most notably Henry Cavill’s FBI agent ordered to accompany the IMF team on their latest mission to recover three nuclear cores they neglectfully lost before a group of terrorists can use them. Honestly, Cavill is a passable Superman, but his muscles and deep voice are better served in this kind of role (plus, he’s got a beard and mustache, much to my VC’s delight), and his stoic delivery leaves his loyalties in doubt from the start. Yet it’s still the familiar faces that make M:I better than your typical action movie, particularly Cruise, whose character is faced with several moral tests along the way, making him question the value of one life over many.
So what about the claims that Fallout is the best film of the franchise and even one of the best action films of all time? I’d say that’s debatable, the former assertion more than the latter. I would agree that this is the most action-packed movie of the series, culminating in one of the most intense climaxes of them all. Cruise continues to dazzle with his absurdly ambitious stunts (watching him break his leg during the shoot is still painful), and the chases and fistfights are as good as they’ve ever been. There’s a one-take skydive that is particularly awe-inspiring and nail-biting. As far as action, it delivers in spades, but the plot takes a little while to settle in. This series is known for its twists, but the story gets a little muddled changing directions in the first half before we get to the villain goals and what must be done to stop them. At one point, there are three double-crosses in quick succession so it takes some effort to keep up.
As far as rankings, I just can’t quite decide. I’ve said before that I like M:I:iii, Ghost Protocol, and Rogue Nation about equally, but for different reasons. M:I:iii has the most personal stakes and best ending, while Ghost Protocol has the best plot and team dynamic, and Rogue Nation has the best script and mixture of everything the series does well. I have no problem adding Fallout to the grouping, since it has the best climax, though I was a bit disappointed with how it backtracked on the happy ending of the third film. Fallout is once again a credit to the series and could act as a good conclusion if they decide to stop here. I don’t know if Cruise and company will continue churning out these action hits, but if they do, I’m game for whatever comes next.
Best line: (Walker, frustrated with the lack of a plan) “Hope is not a strategy.” (Ilsa) “Oh, you’re new!”
Rank: List-Worthy (joining the last three sequels)
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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