Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin
Some missions are not a choice is the slogan to accompany this latest instalment of Tom Cruise’s spy franchise, based on the 1960s television series created by Bruce Geller. It had always been suggested that all missions offered by the Secretary of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) were optional, but usually the stakes were so high that a patriotic spy would find it hard to decide not to accept them. Luckily for us, the likes of Dan Briggs, Jim Phelps and more recently, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) were game for it. Why then is this such an important point for this film? Unlike previous iterations of the franchise, the very cause and effect of these ‘impossible’ missions are called into question, as well as the motivations of men and women behind them. Why do they do what they do, and does it make a difference? Is the world safer with these secret agents risking life and limb, or does the removal of one threat just make way for another?
‘Fallout’ addresses these points and more, giving us not only a great action espionage movie, but one that addresses the responsibility for actions or inaction, the moral and amoral characters that the spy world attracts, and crucially, the personal sacrifices these men and women make for the sake of their often unseen efforts. If this sounds a bit heavy-going, then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a great dose of tongue-in-cheek humour, action by the bucket load and of course, Lalo Schifrin’s famous themes tunes to keep the movie moving along at the customary break-neck speed. And it needs to, because the stakes have never been higher, not only for world security, but also the reputation and integrity of Ethan Hunt and his team of agents.
Unexpectedly, this film is a genuine sequel to ‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’ (2015), ending the stand-alone nature of the M:I movies so far, and is all the better for it. Returning alongside Cruise are his Rogue Nation co-stars Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson, as well as long-term team member Ving Rhames, plus director and writer McQuarrie. The chemistry and camaraderie is telling, and it makes for reassuring viewing knowing Hunt’s team act as a little family looking out for one another, just as the TV series portrayed. They definitely need it too, because Sean Harris reprises his role as evil Solomon Lane from the previous movie and is about to cause even more trouble for the team, although in ways they hadn’t counted on.
Although a good pun on the deadly consequences of a nuclear explosion, the titular fallout more fully references the ramifications of Solomon Lane’s capture in the previous film. You see, in the absence of Lane to manage the shadowy Syndicate organisation, an even more extreme group of nasties going by the name of The Apostles are attempting to acquire some nuclear warheads to blow up various parts of the western world. Hunt’s team are tasked with intercepting the trade and taking the bombs into safe custody, but in a moment of weakness, Hunt chooses the life of one of his team and the weapons get away from them. Worse still, Hunt’s bosses at the CIA are beginning to suspect his loyalty and want to shut him down. Luckily for Hunt, the IMF Secretary (Baldwin) steps into prevent his immediate dismissal, but compromises in allowing a CIA marksman (Cavill) to join the team as an insurance policy against Hunt ‘going rogue’. The problem is that the new member is a little more gung-ho and his methods less subtle, which causes a little friction right from the offset.
What follows though is a series of break-ins and break-outs, riveting chases on foot, motorcycle, car and helicopter, a plethora of planning, plotting and double-crossing, hand-to-hand fight sequences and gun-play, and a small amount of soul-searching and humanity as the team question the very nature of their jobs and who they ultimately do it for. The end result is a expertly crafted movie, and whilst heavy on the expected action and intrigue, goes one step further by justifying the often difficult and dangerous job of the security forces. You come away realising that if such people do exist, then ignoring the ridiculous or ‘impossible’ stunts shown here, the world is probably a safer place because of them. ‘Fallout’ doesn’t go out of its way to push any kind of agenda here, but there is certainly a new-found humanity to the oft-portrayed cold, ruthless and emotionless secret agents. Cruise and Co come away from the film battered, bruised and exhausted, but there is no obvious sign of this being the last time. The Mission: Impossible film series has still got life in it, and after a mere 22 years since the first movie (and dare I say 52 years since the TV series began), the franchise has more life in it than ever before. This review will self-destruct in five seconds...
© 2018 Chris Sandles