I have something to confess. I have never seen a single Mission: Impossible movie in my life. I had no idea what I was in for when I entered the theater to see the newest installment of the spy franchise. Apparently I’ve been missing out on a lot. What begins as a standard action flick very quickly turns into something else entirely. Something unlike anything I have ever seen before. The second the film reaches an early scene where the indestructible Ethan Hunt (the indestructible Tom Cruise) is about to jump out of a plane roughly five miles up in the sky, and you realize that what you’re about to see is real, with no green screen and no stunt double, you know you’re in for something special.
What is Mission: Impossible – Fallout about? They try to keep it simple. Some bad guys have gotten their hands on plutonium and are going to make some nukes. It’s up to Ethan Hunt and his elite team (Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg) to stop them and get that plutonium back. Along the way they have to contend with the CIA and their operative, August Walker (Henry Cavill), and MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who are going after the plutonium as well. It’s paper-thin, and none of the characters seem to have much of a personality (although that could be attributed to me not seeing any of the previous films), but in this particular case none of that seems to matter.
The story and its characters are all just background noise in Fallout. This movie’s focus is completely on the enormous action set pieces and the outrageous stunts shown in them. There are many of them, and they are jaw-dropping in their presentation. You can’t help but be impressed and blown away by the sheer amount of work put into this thing. Fallout had three thousand set-ups, thirteen helicopters, four weeks of aerial photography, and shooting took place on three different continents. Tom Cruise, an insane human being(?) in every possible way, trained for an entire year to be prepared for the HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump stunt, a sequence that gets your heart practically beating out of your chest, and makes your eyes unable to look away from what you’re witnessing onscreen.
This is the movie that broke Cruise’s ankle while he was performing a stunt where he leaps from building to building, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the take they use in the movie itself. You can see him limp away from his hard fall and continue running. There’s a white-knuckle, high-speed, helmet-free motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, which includes a portion in which Cruise speeds against traffic in the circle around the Arc de Triomphe. The finale includes a helicopter chase through snowy mountains in which Cruise does most of the piloting himself. All of these are done mostly without green screens and CG (if there are any, they’re not at all noticeable), and the way that all of it is done practically is truly something to behold in all of its glory, preferably on an IMAX screen. In a perfect world, this is the film that finally gets the Oscars to add a category for stunts.
Lorne Balfe’s (The Florida Project, The LEGO Batman Movie) score is incredible. It’s loud, boisterous, full of life and energy, and a brilliant reminder of what makes a movie’s soundtrack so much fun. The film makes expert use of it, blaring it during certain action scenes so that all other noise is basically muted, or having no score at all, letting the insane stunts you’re watching speak for themselves. Cinematographer Rob Hardy (Annihilation, Ex Machina) never pulls the camera away. It’s with the action every step of the way, supplying plenty of long, continuous takes coupled with far-away wide shots that work to show you the true scope of these insane stunts (like Tom Cruise dangling on a rope attached to a helicopter, something else he actually did in real life). Make no mistake, this film is an adrenaline rush. You’ll feel like you chugged down several Red Bulls after leaving the theater; your heart will be racing and you’ll have to fight the urge to speed out of the parking lot like a madman.
There aren’t any correct words I can use to describe exactly what the experience of seeing this film is in a theater. It’s something you have to go through yourself. Don’t worry about the plot because none of it seems to matter anyway. It’s all an excuse to move along from one action set piece to the next. But you won’t mind. I certainly didn’t. Hollywood has been churning out giant blockbusters for years now where every action scene is a CG-filled party, so it is astounding to see a movie like this where nearly everything that you’re seeing is real and tangible. It’s what makes it feel like such a genuine thrill ride. It’s the perfect summer action movie. It’s edge-of-your-seat excitement, and you need to make like Tom Cruise and run, and run, and run some more to experience it on the biggest screen you can find.
4 / 5 Stars
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is now playing in theaters everywhere.