The sixth installment of the Mission Impossible films, and the second directed and written by Christopher McQuarrie (Rogue Nation), arrived this weekend with a fat 98% Rotten Tomatoes ratings, the Justice League-impacting Henry Cavill mustache, and the promise of more death-defying stunts by the ageless Tom Cruise. But haven’t we seen it all, already?
Blame Lorne Balfe’s score, the Michelle Monaghan dreams, or the return of Solomon Lane, but this is not the same old thing you’ve seen before. This is the best M:I film to-date.
IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) teams with Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) to go after plutonium and The Apostles – the remaining members of the The Syndicate after Hunt arrested Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) previously. [One of the best parts of the film is that it seems to give the sidekicks more meaningful things to do than before – a throwback to the old show.] Complicating matters are Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who might be the love that Hunt has been missing since he separated from his wife (Monaghan) to keep her safe, several movies ago. But things are complicated when the broker, White Widow (Jessica Kirby), demands that Hunt re-acquire Lane from the French government in exchange for missing plutonium.
The storyline is complex, thanks to the meddling of various governmental agencies (led by Alex Baldwin and Angela Bassett), and the presence of CIA watchdog/assassin August Walker (Cavill, who literally towers over Hunt). But the action is kept moving by the best motorcycle pursuit since The Great Escape and the best use of helicopters since Airwolf. [Seriously, I am not inclined to ‘best’ anything, but the film was that entertaining.] I could also point out that it’s as if McQuarrie watched Cliffhanger, Die Hard, the complete Sean Connery 007 collection, and Terminal Velocity while he was daydreaming about what to do to Ethan Hunt next, and stole the best looks of each to Frankenstein the highlight of the 2018 summer season.
And then there’s this: haunted by what he’s lost and what he could lose, Hunt’s emotional reverie about his (ex-) wife counts the cost of a one-man war against terrorism. But throughout the film, people keep seeing more or less the same thing: we all need Ethan Hunt because Hunt cares about the individual, the little person (no pun intended, Tom), the greater good never outweighing the life of the few. Sure, there’s one almost touching interaction with a French Genderarmie, but it’s more than that: Hunt’s morality never replaces his love of neighbor.
Having wrestled with this for the majority of the day, I have to say it: Mission Impossible – Fallout is more wildly entertaining than the sixth film in a chronological series should be and it dares to remind us that we can’t lose sight of the person next to us while in pursuit of the goal. We must remain empathetic, and compassionate, gentle and tender, even while fighting the world’s battles.
Ultimately, Fallout implores us all, to be more like Ethan Hunt.