Abishek enjoys reviewing, analyzing, and deconstructing movies.
Don't Take Action Movies for Granted
We take action movies for granted. All the time. They are usually overlooked and seldom nominated for any big awards (Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark are a few exceptions). There are so many meticulously and perfectly made action films out there that require in-depth viewing and understanding from the audience to realize their true value. Instead, they are just known for being a fun and entertaining two-hour show. Mission: Impossible – Fallout joins that long list.
Fallout is actually the first direct sequel in the franchise. Christopher McQuarrie is also the first director to have directed two M: I films. Tom Cruise (one of the producers) has always insisted on having a different director for each film and extraneous plots with respect to the preceding films for a fresh and unique look. But, it seems that having a connected plot has its perks.
Need for a Worthy Antagonist
A powerful antagonist has always been a problem for the Mission: Impossible franchise. The plots are usually situation or circumstance-focused. The only film that had a worthy antagonist was Mission: Impossible III (2006) because of Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance as Owen Davian. That said, he didn't have a backstory. He was just an evil guy who wanted to get his hands on the Rabbit's Foot.
This problem was finally solved in Rogue Nation. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) was a truly menacing opposing character. He only gets stronger with this entry, as he becomes the physical embodiment of an ideology. A second entry featuring the same antagonist builds on his intentions and ideologies, increasing the strength and depth of his character. Now, I am getting into spoiler territory here, so you've been warned.
August Walker (Henry Cavill), Hunt's partner, is another antagonist, and he proves to be tough. These characters are all well written, and there's a nice contrast between Hunt and Walker. Hunt is compared to a scalpel, while Walker is compared to a hammer. This is a step up from the early days of this franchise when all we got were poorly written, non-threatening villain characters.
The Emotional Journey of Fallout
The second perk is building up emotions. When you have a connected plot with recurring characters, you tend to develop feelings for these characters. Up until Ghost Protocol, the only recurring characters were Benji, Luther, and of course, Julia. Brandt (played by Jeremy Renner) had the potential for being a mainstay, but he left too soon.
All other characters in the franchise just came and went, not giving the audience enough time to connect with them. But in Rogue Nation and Fallout, we are finally able to connect with Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson) and Alan Hunley (played Alec Baldwin), who have become a part of the team.
This film explores Ethan's emotions—his relationship with Ilsa, his good intentions, his worries concerning Julia, his friendships—on a whole other level. In fact, the title Fallout not only refers to the nuclear fallout, which is the main subject of the movie, but also the aftermath of Ethan's decision to save Luther's life over a million lives. "The fallout of all your good intentions," as Solomon Lane puts it.
All the events of the movie take place only because of Ethan's decision to save Luther's life. He is unable to choose between one life and millions.
"Some flaw deep in your core being simply won’t allow you to choose between one life and millions. Now, you see that as a sign of weakness. To me, that’s your greatest strength.", says Hunley.
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There is just a huge load of emotions here, which wouldn't have been possible with a disconnected plot.
More Intense Action
Fate whispers to the warrior, a storm is coming.
The warrior whispers back, I am the storm.
Yes, Tom Cruise is an absolute storm. As he's done for all other Mission: Impossible movies, he performs his own stunts in Fallout. He drives like a daredevil through the streets of Paris on a motorcycle. He performs a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump from a plane 25,000 feet above the ground, moving at a speed of over 220 miles per hour.
He recklessly runs and jumps across stairs and rooftops (he broke his ankle while doing this). He pilots a helicopter in one of the most insane action scenes ever. Remember, Cruise is not just trying to stay alive, he is also acting and performing.
There aren't stunt doubles with CGI-imposed faces. The long wide takes, which focus on the actor, provide an exhilarating, immersive first-person experience. Cruise's gravity-defying, death-defying stunts have only gotten better over the years, ironically as he gets older.
Smart, Focused Direction
McQuarrie and Co. don't make things easy for themselves. For example, there is a 10-minute long fight sequence set in a restroom. Throughout, we have people coming in and going and the main characters have to deal with the situation. They could've focused solely on the fight, but this makes things more interesting and natural—not like how in Phantom Menace, 10-year-old Anakin had a perfectly fitting small-sized helmet for him in one of the fighter pods, if you know what I mean.
Similarly, during a chase sequence, Ethan's motorcycle doesn't start immediately and he almost gets caught. This was an idea that was prominent in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The IMF relies on its gadgets and devices, but they keep malfunctioning. Everything from the telephone to the adhesive gloves to the glass cutter, and this makes the film more interesting.
In Fallout, the team is confronted by an ordinary beat cop while escorting Solomon Lane. These subtle things keep Fallout grounded in the real world. However insane and bizarre the action sequences might be, all these natural and realistic things make Fallout plausible and engaging. Ethan Hunt is still an ordinary human being, subject to ordinary disturbances and obstacles. This attention to detail makes Fallout really stand out.
Fallout: Edge of Your Seat Brilliance
Fallout is wonderfully balanced. The screenplay has twists, the stunt choreography is brilliant, the cinematography is stunning, and the soundtrack... Lorne Balfe, you beauty! I just can't describe how great this soundtrack is. I hope he returns for M: I 7 & M: I 8. This soundtrack is the perfect complement to the striking visuals and fast-paced action.
It isn't just great action and nothing else. Fallout has a complex and arresting plot, well-written characters, great performances, a bit of humor, and plenty of powerful emotions—all of this backed by some intelligent filmmaking. That's a pretty good concoction.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch M:I Fallout right now. No, this message will not self destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck.
I paid for my whole seat but only used the edge. Fallout is the action movie to beat. Period.