We regret to inform you that James Bond has been official canceled until further notice. The iconic spy that dominated the action genre for 50 years as the height of espionage-inspired spectacle has been lapped by Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, the super-spy of the Mission: Impossible films. It’s been trending this way for a little while. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol brought the series to dazzling new heights only to ramp up further with Rogue Nation. All the while Bond flicks were stuck in a cycle of hit or miss movies. Now with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, it’s undeniable. The spy genre is now owned outright by Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, as Fallout delivers everything one could want from a globetrotting action-packed adventure. The stunts, the scenery, the escalating suspense swell into a stunning spectacle unmatched in modern cinema. Mission: Impossible has been angling to take the mantle of best action franchise and with the all-out insanity of Fallout, it takes that mantle, obliterating all of its competition along the way.
Fallout is a rarity in the M:I series as it’s a direct sequel to the events of Rogue Nation. The nefarious Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) has been captured but his army of rogue agents across the world carry on his work under the name of The Apostles. The Apostles want to secure plutonium to craft three atomic bombs that they plan to detonate in hopes of destroying the modern world order. Presented with the mission that he chose to accept, Ethan Hunt and his reliable team including Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) venture around the world in search of the highly in demand plutonium. However, one slip up has the CIA not trusting the IMF team, and CIA Director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) installs her agent August Walker (Henry Cavil) alongside Hunt on his covert mission in Paris.
By the sixth film in the series, Ethan Hunt knows his way around the world of international espionage, meaning that he only truly trusts those who have been longtime members of his team. When the mission has him posing an international to infiltrate a deal brokered by the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), Hunt can’t take anyone at their word which makes for some great moments of tension followed by unpredictable action. Thing get even more complicated when Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) joins the picture and her mission is seemingly at odds with Hunt’s. The larger picture of the plot is incredibly simple – bad guys want nukes; good guys want to stop them. It’s the smaller character details and interactions where the film gets more complex but it’s easy to retain a sense of where everyone stands since Ethan Hunt is the film and the series’ moral compass.
And did I tell that this movie had action? I mean, Mission: Impossible – Fallout has so many jaw-dropping sequences of holy shit action. Cruise does the incredible HALO jump from upward of 20,000 feet. Then there’s a stunning motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris. McQuarrie presents a keen eye for capturing action and coherently tying the racing images together so that nothing is lost in the high-speed fray. A fight with Cruise and Cavil vs. Liang Yang in a bathroom is absolutely wild, masterfully highlighting the physicality of the actors engaged in battle and McQuarrie’s deft staging of the melee. Cruise employs his trademark sprint through the streets of London at high speed, jumping from rooftops and through windows in another thrilling sequence. All of which culminates in the spectacular finale, a thrilling helicopter chase through the Indian mountains with the fate of the world on the line. The scale is immense, the action insane, and all of it presented with astonishing precision.
Cruise continues to go above and beyond the call of duty as an action hero, and his work in Fallout stands as some of his most daring works yet. Jackie Chan is sitting back and watching Tom Cruise’s stunt work and questioning his sanity. Say what you will about Cruise’s personal life choices, the man is immensely dedicated to his craft and takes his work to incredible levels, placing himself at risk to entertain you. That’s a fuckin’ movie star.
One thing that makes Fallout so compelling for fans of the Mission: Impossible series is the villainous Solomon Lane, who is basically a funhouse mirror version of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Sean Harris speaks in this chilling raspy whisper that oozes emotional detachment and moral nihilism. Lane wants to ruin the current world order and is willing to kill millions to achieve that goal. Hunt, on the other hand, is decidedly apolitical – he doesn’t oppose Lane’s plans because of any guiding ideological draw but simply that his plan would cause the death of untold millions. I really think that McQuarrie knows that making the film too overtly political would be dangerous territory and retaining a certain apolitical idealism around Hunt makes it better for the audience to embrace as a hero regardless of their standing on the political spectrum – this, mind you, is more a commentary on the current state of American politics than the work of Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, or the entire Mission: Impossible series which has really avoided making any strong political stances in the past.
Nearly 24 hours after seeing Mission: Impossible – Fallout, I’m still buzzing with a cinematic high thanks to the action-packed work McQuarrie and Cruise. If possible, I would’ve turned right around to watch it again. Many try to make movies on this scale that are so damned captivating but, my god, these Mission: Impossible movies continue to pull off the impossible.