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 few exceptions). The action genre has always been seen as a casual viewing category for the general audiences. Most of the time, we watch action movies for leisure and don't take them seriously enough; we view them to pass the time, without giving much thought to the filmmaking or character development. 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 having a connected plot has its own perks.
The first one is developing a powerful antagonist. This has always been a problem for the Mission: Impossible franchise. Most of the time, it is the situation or circumstance that the IMF finds itself in that is the main problem, not the antagonist. These films have always failed to create a strong antagonist, except maybe the third one because of Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance as Owen Davian; but again, this character had no past or backstory whatsoever. He was just this really evil guy who wanted to get his hands on the Rabbit's Foot. This problem was finally solved in Rogue Nation, which had a menacing opposing character in the form of Solomon Lane, played by Sean Harris. He only gets stronger with this entry, as he becomes a physical embodiment of an ideology. A second entry featuring the same antagonist character naturally will give weight to 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's character), who is Hunt's partner, is another antagonist here, and he proves to be a tough one too. All these characters are written well, and a lot of contrast is provided 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 weak villain characters who weren't threatening and intimidating enough.
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.
There are plenty of emotions concerning the IMF. This group has grown old together; they know each other very well, always have each others' backs, and they never give up. One can experience warm feelings when they stand up for and support each other. 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.
There is just a huge load of emotions here, which wouldn't have been possible with a disconnected plot.
Fate whispers to the warrior, a storm is coming.
The warrior whispers back, I am the storm.
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Yes, Tom Cruise, the man himself. He is an absolute storm. Yes, you guessed it right, he has performed his stunts in this movie, just like he's done for all other Mission: Impossible movies.
He drives through the streets of Paris on a motorcycle like a daredevil. 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, but he is also acting and performing in front of the camera.
Now, some of you might ask, "Oh, you're just a huge Tom Cruise fan who is trumpeting about him! How does it matter, Cruise or stunt double? It's the same!" Well, it matters. And with the right cinematography, which this film has, it matters a lot. Because everything feels so real! Rob Hardy has done an exceptional job here. All these action sequences are so intense because they are actually taking place. Everything feels incredibly realistic—we can feel the punches because they really did punch each other! We know that it is Tom Cruise himself who is jumping off rooftops and flying a chopper and not a stunt double. There aren't stunt doubles with CGI-imposed faces, no shying away from the camera, and no awkward camera angles. 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 got better and better over the years, ironically with his increasing age.
All the other aspects of this film are just great. This is one action film that has an incredibly complex plot that requires you to follow each and every line of dialogue. If you miss a line, it gets really confusing. I like such films that are demanding and seem to say to the audience, "Hey, look at me. Focus here!" The expository scenes are handled so well; I never got bored of all the talking and debriefing scenes. There is always a sense of urgency that doesn't let you sit at ease. The movie is incredibly tight-knitted, has zero fat, and takes no time to get things started. Right from the word go, we are in the moment till the end of the movie. The ultra-engaging screenplay has so many twists that we are at the edge of our seats for eternity. The stunt choreography was brilliant, the cinematography was stunning as mentioned earlier, 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 accompaniment for the striking visuals and fast-paced action.
McQuarrie and Co. don't make things easy for themselves. They don't take the comfortable and convenient route concerning a sequence. 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. This could've been avoided and they could've focussed solely on the fight, but this makes things more interesting and natural (not like how 10-year-old Anakin, in Phantom Menace, had a perfectly fitting small-sized helmet for him in one of the fighter pods in the hangar, 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 heavily, but they keep malfunctioning. Everything from the telephone to the adhesive gloves and glass cutter—this makes the film highly interesting as the IMF has another problem to deal with. In Fallout, while escorting Solomon Lane, the team is confronted by an ordinary street cop. These little and subtle things make Fallout highly captivating and grounded. However insane and bizarre the action sequences might be, all these natural and realistic things make Fallout plausible and engaging. However, superhuman-esque Ethan Hunt might seem, these seemingly frivolous and not-so-important things remind us that he too is an ordinary being, subject to ordinary disturbances and obstacles anyone could face. This extra degree of realism and attention to detail makes Fallout really stand out.
Fallout is wonderfully balanced. There are so many action sequences; they could've made three more M: I films with it. It's just an endless stream. But I never felt that these action sequences were just crammed into a 2-hour and 26-minute show; it never felt like an overload, at least in a bad way. That's because the film remained true and never compromised on its soul and substance—the plot, characters, and emotions. This gives the feeling that the action is yet another part of the film and not the film itself. It isn't just great action and nothing else. 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. Now that's a pretty good concoction.
Critics loved this movie. I would advise you to give little weight to approval ratings but nevertheless, 97% from Rotten Tomatoes & 86% from Metacritic is no simple task. Mission: Impossible- Fallout, in my opinion, is easily one of the best action movies of all time. There, I said it.
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.