Sunday, 29 July 2018

Mission Impossible - Fallout

A Running Cruise

Mission Impossible - Fallout
2018 USA Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
UK cinema release print.

So here we go again. The sixth entry into the big budget, big screen versions of the popular Mission Impossible TV show is with us and, once again, the trailer managed to drag me in using the cunning ruse of a running Cruise doing lots of action stuff against a coolish sounding score. Which always works on me, to be honest.

For a few years now, I have observed that each one of these films released always seems to be even better than the previous movie in the series and this culminated in my favourite of these fizzy, spy action confections from the Mission Impossible team, Rogue Nation. I have to say that, while Mission Impossible Fallout carries on the same story, set a couple of years later, this one doesn’t actually get nearly as good as that previous installment. Although it’s still a pretty cool movie and certainly as good as the third and maybe fourth movies. Nothing to rival that wonderfully spy-hard cool opera house sequence in Rogue Nation though, alas.

The plot set up is that, with the captured Solomon Lane (played once again by Sean Harris) in the hands of various governments, the remnants of his terrorist group The Syndicate, calling themselves The Disciples, are being held together by a mystery man known only as John Lark. Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt whose mission, should he choose to accept it, is to get back a load of stolen plutonium from The Disciples and, presumably, find out who John Lark is and shut The Disciples down before they blow various countries up etc and destabilise the world as we know it.

So, yeah, business as usual and Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Alec Baldwin from previous films in the franchise are there to help him do it. Unfortunately, Jeremy Renner doesn’t return here as he was busy shooting the sequel to next year’s follow up to Avengers - Infinity War (reviewed here) but instead we have a new character played by the current Man Of Steel himself, Henry Cavill. Of course, Cavill is no stranger to the spy game as he played an interesting variant of Napoleon Solo in the recent The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie (reviewed here) and, sure enough, he does a pretty good job here as the ‘blunt hammer’ of a character he is initially introduced as. Also back in the mix, we have the very welcome return of Rebecca Ferguson as the double agent Ilsa Faust from the last movie and an interesting turn from actress Vanessa Kirby playing a character called White Widow. There’s also another, very special returning character... but I’ll get to her in a minute.

So the film is full of the usual action sequences and I was absolutely horrified as to how much of the stunts Cruise gets to do here. Sure, we all know the story of how he injured his ankle jumping between two buildings and, yes, you can totally see that shot in the final cut and feel the pain of the star as he does things to his ankle that  he’s not supposed to. What really worried me, though, is that he’s also flying helicopters quite dangerously by himself, riding motorbikes against traffic and even performing a free fall rescue operation and halo jump (for which he trained for about a year) and, wow, I’m so amazed this guy is a) able to get insured on set/location in any country other than Hong Kong and b) hasn’t accidentally killed himself making one of these things yet. This guy is certainly dedicated to his craft, though, so despite heavy qualms about his personal beliefs off of the set, you have to give this guy a lot of respect for these kinds of shenanigans. Not to mention he’s also a pretty great actor with a very likeable on-screen presence (and I know from a first hand story on a bus ride from one of his old costumers that he’s a pretty nice guy to be around on set with too).

The film is a blast if you like stunts and action sequences as they are all done with the usual slick, professionalism that this kind of high profile Hollywood blockbuster usually achieves but my biggest problem is that... okay, it’s good but there are absolutely no real surprises in it. There’s a so called twist in this and there are also a fair few scenes set up to fool the opposition and, for effect, the audience at the same time but, honestly, if you’ve seen just a few of these films then you’ll see all this stuff coming a mile off... not to mention the ‘not so well hidden’ true identity of John Lark. That one’s kinda obvious. So the lack of ‘I never saw that coming’ really does bring the film down a level, I think.

That being said, it’s still a blast and it also sees the return of Michelle Monaghan in a quite respectfully highlighted role in the last big section of the film, reprising her character from the third and fourth films and finally tying up that ‘big loose thread’ from the third one which people like me have been so worried about since that installment. Things seem definitely finished up with that character and Ethan Hunt in this one but they don’t do this in the obvious way and it’s not what you’re thinking... perhaps the only half surprise in the movie is the restraint by the writer/director not to do the obvious thing with her character... which is kinda nice.

And of course we have the all important score by a composer I quite like this time around, Lorne Balfe. Now, as much as I would have preferred the director retained the services of composer Joe Kraemer, as his score for Rogue Nation was possibly the best of the big screen franchise scores, Lorne Balfe does an excellent job here, as I knew he would. I really have to listen to the CD when it comes out (with extra music not on the stupid electronic release I’m told... Woohoo!) to get a more accurate impression from the score as it gets covered up by various explosive actiony noises here but from what I can hear of it, it’s not too shabby. He didn’t, from what I could make out, use Lalo Schifrin’s classic title melody as much as some of his predecessors (although The Syndicate theme also seems to be back here too) but when he does use elements of it he makes them count and I am looking forward to hearing this one away from the movie (I thought his score for the reboot of The Sweeney was superb).

And that’s about all I have to say about this one. If you are a fan of these films then you will already know what to expect and you’ll probably have a good time with this one. If you are more casual in your Mission Impossible viewing habits, however, then I would say you would be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t watch Rogue Nation before watching Mission Impossible Fallout, to be fair, so you can get a sense of the recent history of the series. Definitely one to watch, though, when you’ve seen the others... should you choose to accept that mission.

Mission Impossible at NUTS4R2
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to click on one of the titles below to take you to my review.

Mission Impossible
Mission Impossible 2
Mission Impossible 3
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 
Mission Impossible: Fallout

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