What’s The Movie? Mission: Impossible – Fallout
What’s It All About, JG? Having Tom Cruise be manly in manly ways which involve being manly in the service of IMF and/or the United States. In this one… well, you know. There’s lots of running and explosions and the spy stuff takes a back seat to seeing what ludicrously over-the-top shenanigans Tom Cruise can get up to / humblebrag about on chat shows. It’s a Mission: Impossible film, in other words. Like the last one, but with slightly different locations.
Why Did You Give It A Go? Why not? I’d never list myself as a fan of the films, exactly, but you know – they’re there. They pass the time. The last one (Rogue Nation) was incredibly bland, but the fourth had been decent, so maybe this will be a return to form.
Is It Any Good? Intermittently, usually during a big action set-piece, but never start-to-finish. The problem with this film – and it’s a problem with almost all the Mission: Impossible films – is that the stunts and action set-pieces are all executed with real glee and passion but the actual spy stuff could be written on the back of a fag packet. That’s definitely the case here – things start comparatively slowly with a shoot-out in Berlin and gradually escalate until we get Tom Cruise (and they can call him Ethan Hunt all they want, it’s not fooling anyone – this is Tom Cruise In A Tom Cruise Film Doing That Thing Tom Cruise Does In Films) executing insanely dangerous helicopter stunts in the Himalayas. The stunts in question are stunning, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought otherwise, but the spy stuff is laughably inadequate, just a series of linking scenes to get us to the next big adventure set-piece. It’s something that marks the film series as different from the TV show that spawned it, though not in a good way. There’s a real lack of personality to the Mission: Impossible films – despite a star of Cruise’s stature, and a decent comic-sidekick turn from Simon Pegg, there’s something incredibly generic about these movies, and Fallout does nothing to correct this. The action is impressive but everything else just fades away, ultimately an irrelevance – not a single character remains in the mind, nor a plot turn, nor… well anything. The whole raison d’être of the TV show was that missions were carried out with thought, care and precision – it was about using actual intelligence to resolve This Week’s Problem rather than action. Not that there wasn’t any action, of course, but that wasn’t what the show primarily did and even when it did do action it was mostly a bit of fisticuffs. Whereas the movies are mostly about watching Tom Cruise do increasingly insane ego-stroking stunts with some boiler-plate spy stuff to string the effects sequences together. It’s not that there isn’t any pleasure in that – there absolutely is – but the results almost always smooth out to “the one where he hangs off the tallest building” or “the one with the helicopters in the mountains” and anything else is largely irrelevant. There’s the odd exception to this – fooling nuclear scientist Nils Debruuk with a fake TV show early on to get him to reveal his plans is both genuinely funny and exactly the sort of thing the TV show would have done – but having that one example there just shows up the absence. The Mission: Impossible movies use the iconography of the TV show (the theme, the catchphrase, the incidental music) but very little else has survived the transition to the big screen.
How Many Of These Films Did You Watch? I’ve seen… oh probably all of them, though maybe I skipped an early one or something. I didn’t really go out of my way to seek them out, but as something to stick on the telly after a large Christmas dinner or whatever then you could do worse. Colours move. Things explode. You know.
Would You Recommend It? Well, for all the criticisms of blandness above, the actions sequences are some of the best in cinema at the moment, and they feel personal and up-close in a way that, for example, Marvel movies rarely do. Practical over CGI does mean that there’s a visceral realism to the stunts lacking in many of today’s big action movies (though this might say more about the state of action movie franchises than it does about Mission: Impossible) and there’s no question that the principal thrill of these movies is seeing what they can get away with this time. Beyond that though? Alec Baldwin is hilariously terrible as the Secretary, and his stabbing is one of the most unintentionally funny things in the whole series. Henry Cavill is decent as a bad guy, though he’s eclipsed somewhat by being the somewhat-inevitable traitor. The return of Ethan’s wife feels like a contrived and rather lazy way to try and shoehorn some extra drama into the closing twenty minutes, because that’s what it is. I’d spend more time on the plot but it’s roughly the same one most of these films have – falsely accused and/or set up, on the run, desperate actions, terrorist group to be stopped, yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill. Neither a complete success nor an abject failure, the best one can say of Fallout is that it’s certainly another movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Scores On The Doors? 6.5/10