Mission Impossible has been on a sustained run of excellence lately. I’m not a huge fan of the third movie, but Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation were both excellent. Fallout lives up to the series’ high standards. I don’t know that I like it quite as much as the previous two, but it is in the same conversation.
The movie starts with Hunt and crew trying and failing to recover some stolen plutonium. As Hunt readies to track it down again, the CIA steps in. This sets up the dynamic that runs through most of the movie. Hunt is given a CIA watchdog, Walker played by Henry Cavill. Walker is interesting; he’s all bravado and surety, but also more than a bit of a screw up. In one of the movies standout set pieces, of which there are a full handful, he HALO jumps into a thunderstorm, which results in he and Hunt nearly falling to their deaths.
I am not going to try to explain the plot, other than to say that the MI guys are after the plutonium, but someone on the good guys side is a double agent. Also, Hunt has to go undercover as the villainous buyer of the plutonium, but the price brings Rogue Nation’s villain back into the mix. Meanwhile, Ilsa Faust shows back up, but she is working toward a different goal than Hunt. It just makes the whole thing a mess of conflicted loyalties and objectives. While there isn’t much unsurety of who is on who’s side, it all works spectacularly.
Fallout brings back most of the crew that Hunt has built up over the last few movies. Ving Rhames is back as Luther and gets probably more to do than he has had for the last few movies. It is mostly talking in a radio of delivering exposition, but at least it’s something. Simon Pegg’s Benji, meanwhile, gets slightly scaled back, mostly because Cavill takes his role as Hunt’s sidekick for most of the movie. Still, he’s there and he’s great. Rebecca Ferguson returns as Ilsa Faust, and she is just as great as she was in Rogue Nation. Renner isn’t back, but Alec Baldwin gets to do a little more than he did last time. Really, the ancillary cast this series has built up is one of its greatest strengths.
Fallout moves from one amazing action set piece to another. There is that HALO jump, which is followed by a fight in nightclub bathroom. Then there is an extended motorcycle chase through Paris that is wonderful. It all ends with a helicopter dogfight and, no joke, a fist fight on the top of (and side of) a mountain. This is something that series has done well for the longest time, and Fallout is at least equally as amazing as any of the previous movies.
Despite my praise, the movie that comes to mind to compare this to is Spectre. That movie tried to suggest that the Bond series had been building to something since Craig took over and Spectre was trying to be the culmination of that. Except almost none of it worked; it was terrible. Fallout pulls a lot of the same tricks, tying together unrelated threads from three previous movies that maybe weren’t meant to be connected. Except Fallout actually makes it work. It doesn’t try to add stuff in retroactively, it builds it all forward. It actually plays out more like the latter Fast and Furious movies.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most enjoyable movies of the summer. I hope Tom Cruise has another one of these in him.