Thursday 26 July 2018

Film Review: Mission Impossible - Fallout

With death-defying stunts and crazy choreography, Tom Cruise risks life and limb for our entertainment – it could only be Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Henry Cavill, Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in
Mission Impossible: Fallout.
In a world populated with increasingly lethargic spy franchises – we’re looking at you, Bond – one series has risen above the rest by consistently upping the game and going one better with each successive entry. In Mission Impossible’s sixth installment, subtitled Fallout, cultist/ragdoll/consummate professional Tom Cruise once again illustrates why he’s the best action movie star working today, in a film that entertains and astounds from beginning to end.

In Mission Impossible: Fallout, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) finds himself on the trail of some missing plutonium after an operation goes south. The retrieval mission sees him paired with burly CIA operative August Walker (Henry Cavill) and parachuting into Paris for a meet with the White Widow (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), a broker with her own agenda. It isn’t long before some familiar faces in the form of MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and international terrorist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) crop up – with the former again proving a wonderful foil/ally/nemesis/love interest for Hunt.

If the opening hour of Fallout feels like a convoluted slog weighed down by exposition, it’s only because returning writer/director Christopher McQuarrie is taking his time in moving all the chess pieces to where they need to be for the riveting, thrill-a-minute, non-stop final act. 

When Fallout gets going, following a string of zigzags and reversals, boy does it let loose – from a breathless chase through tight Parisian streets that hops from bikes and cars to boats to another dizzying dash across London rooftops, the action set pieces arrive one after the other, each more exciting than the last. A highlight is a bathroom brawl where each of Cruise and Cavill’s blows land with a sickening squelch – in a film characterised by vehicular mayhem, it’s this bruising salvo that proves especially satisfying and visceral.

Vanessa Kirby as The White Widow.
It all culminates, in classic Mission Impossible fashion, with a ticking clock and an explosive device that needs to be defused. All the thrilling double crosses and backstabs of the preceding 90 minutes lead into this stripped back set piece – once again it’s a race against time, with Hunt and his team scrambling to prevent annihilation. Once again it’s the ensemble – Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames – who must work in tandem to save the day while sharing a quip or six. Once again the stuntwork, camerawork and choreography is thrust to the fore, with Cruise at the helm of a helicopter for real as he dives and spins across snowy mountaintops.

McQuarrie, as devious with the knotted screenplay as he is inventive behind the camera, delights in highlighting Cruise’s commitment to his craft. Each stunt is framed in such a way that there is no denying that it’s Cruise holding the handlebars or dangling from the bottom of said helicopter – but it’s not showy or ostentatious. Complex shots, such as an elongated tracking shot that follows Cruise as he speeds around the Arc de Triomphe, are thrown into the mix casually, demonstrating the confidence and competence of the filmmakers at every turn.

Another triumph is the inclusion of Ferguson as the enigmatic Ilsa. An equal to Hunt in every aspect rather than a damsel in distress or a slinky sidekick, Ilsa – portrayed with chilling iciness by Ferguson – has only elevated this franchise since her introduction in 2015’s Rogue Nation.

Cavill, unshackled from the terrible writing of DC’s grim superhero universe, is also a hoot as the brutish hammer to Hunt’s scalpel – the only thing more impressive than his bulging biceps being his bristling moustache. This trifecta – Cruise, Cavill, Ferguson – bounce off once another with aplomb, just as comfortable with the quips as they are with the kicks. 

Cruise and McQuarrie are a dynamic duo who, if Fallout is anything to go by, revel in pushing one another to achieve higher heights and more accomplished work with each passing collaboration. It takes a while to kick into gear, but once Fallout starts to roll it doesn’t let up for anything. 

The Verdict: 9/10

Simply put, you won’t find a more exciting or daring blockbuster in cinemas this year, or possibly next year for that matter. At least until the next Mission Impossible film opens. So sit back, strap in and enjoy the ride.

Mission Impossible: Fallout is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday August 2.

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