The world has no shortage of blockbuster action series to offer. Centered on premises ranging from covert agents to superheroes, street racers to enormous vehicular robots, these franchises tend to have one aspect in common: a strong first film with potential for greatness that is generally followed by an unfortunate decline in quality. However, there are exceptions, for the occasional series pops up to surprise us with sequels that are each better than the last. Despite its seemingly inevitable place in a long, sad list of explosive and excessive action flicks that just don’t know when to quit, the “Mission: Impossible” franchise may have earned its way into this rare exceptional tier with the release of “Fallout,” the sixth and arguably best installment of the series.
Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt, the leader of an Impossible Missions Force tasked with picking up the pieces left by a mission gone catastrophically wrong. Right away, the film shows us that sometimes the “good guys” fail, and badly. While this isn’t a new concept, it’s a step in the right direction, away from predictable success against all odds. The film continues to develop into a plot made intricate by the motivations, some known and some unknown, of several different groups, including a terrorist alliance with their sights set, of course, on crafting and detonating plutonium bombs.
Director and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie does a phenomenal job of not only capturing but embracing the spirit and style of “Mission: Impossible.” Perhaps that is what makes this movie so great. When comparing films, it can be difficult to avoid rating an action movie like “Fallout” unfairly in relation to a film such as the drama “Moonlight” or the science fiction “Arrival,” both examples that have been nominated for or won Academy Awards. These are completely different genres, and so they should be judged accordingly within their respective realms. No, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” doesn’t have the most diverse cast. For that matter, it isn’t particularly challenging in any intellectual, cultural, or spiritual regard. It does contain rather unoriginal elements, such as double agents, car chase scenes, and nuclear threats. Still, this movie lives up to its name. The action itself is mind-blowing. Some sequences- there is an insane section of the movie involving two helicopters, one with a payload that Tom Cruise is clinging to- are so nearly over-the-top that it’s incredible just trying to imagine the directing process involved in their creation. It’s also no easy feat to make these crazy scenes hook and engage the viewer, rather than just appear ridiculous and unrealistic. This is a challenge that McQuarrie chooses to accept, and he does so in a fashion that results in a film that is fairly unpredictable, despite having some predictable elements.
Overall, the movie earns an 8 out of 10. I’d be somewhat surprised if they make yet another “Mission: Impossible” movie to follow this one. Of course, I’ve said those exact words before, and I have to say, I’m glad that I was wrong last time. In an age where the action genre sometimes seems doomed to weaken, “Fall- out” brings with it a fresh hope that there are well-done and creatively engaging action films yet to come.
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