When Mission: Impossible reached its sixth movie, some fans might be excused for expecting a falloff. Instead, Mission: Impossible – Fallout ended up as the best film in the entire franchise.
For the first time, the same director took on two movies in the series and it is all for the better. Nothing against previous directors Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird — as all are great directors who brought their own touch to the film series — but Christopher McQuarrie has taken it to another level.
It makes sense as well, as McQuarrie proved with Jack Reacher that he has a specific skill set for making the best of Tom Cruise as an action hero. This is also great for Cruise, who found his star waning after flops like The Mummy.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout followed Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation as Sean Harris returned as his anarchist villain Solomon Lane, who this time around was still in custody as an offshoot of his terrorist group the Syndicate wants him back.
Honestly, one of the best things about the script itself is that — for the first time in the series — the film actually cares about what happened in past movies. Making the Syndicate organization the Mission: Impossible version of SPECTRE and Solomon Lane their Blofeld makes this is a hugely fun story.
The film kicks off with Cruise in a safe house when he gets the latest mission from the IMF, which involves getting back three plutonium cores that the offshoot group — known as the Apostles — wants to use to detonate three coordinated nuclear attacks.
However, when Ethan Hunt brings Benji and Luthor with him to retrieve the plutonium cores, he chooses to save Luthor’s life and in the process loses the cores to another group entirely.
The bad guy is a mystery man named John Lark, who is headed out to buy the plutonium core from a broker known as the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) — someone that long-time Mission: Impossible fans will learn is related to an older name from the series (this is just nice trivia most people will miss out on if not looking for it).
Ethan is told that the buyer will trade the plutonium cores for Solomon Lane — who Ethan will have to help escape from custody, as he has been passed around from nation to nation to answer for his crimes.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the story.
Ethan has to team up with a CIA killer named Walker (Henry Cavill) as CIA head Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) does not trust the IMF and forces this on IMF head and former CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).
He also has to protect Solomon Kane from an old partner in Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) all while realizing that there might be a mole that is trying to once again make it look like Ethan Hunt is the criminal in the entire situation.
The script is pretty much by the numbers, although there is some disappointment that one of the biggest twists of the movie is not a surprise at all and lands with a thud when the pendulum drops. However, the fact is that this movie is a thrill ride that never lets up.
In the previous Mission: Impossible movies, one of the biggest complaints is that the biggest action set piece comes early and the final climax is a bit of a letdown as a result. That is not the case here.
There are a ton of action set pieces and they actually build in intensity until the final climax, which not only has a breathtaking pace but also has a ton of tension as the scenes flip from the team trying to find the bombs to Ethan Hunt trying to stop the bad guys.
Honestly, when talking about action movies being thrill rides, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the new template that other movies will be judged.
While it used to be a tame comparison, Mission: Impossible – Fallout might have just set the bar even too high for the next Daniel Craig James Bond movie to reach.
Danny Boyle — this is your mission — if you choose to accept it.