Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Read JimmyO's take HERE

PLOT: To prevent three nuclear warheads from being detonated by a rogue faction called The Apostles, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must use arch-enemy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) as a bargaining chip, putting him into conflict with former ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).

REVIEW: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is the rare film series where, without exception, the latest film always improves upon its predecessor in terms of action and spectacle. People thought MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was too slow? Enter MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II with motorcycles, doves and John Woo. Was that too silly? Enter MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: III with constant pulse-pounding cliffhangers. Was that too low-key? Cue GHOST PROTOCOL, with huge IMAX set pieces. Was that too gimmicky? Enter the lo-fi, grounded ROGUE NATION.

Now, with ROGUE NATION’s Christopher McQuarrie the only director ever to return for a second film (although III’s J.J Abrams has remained on-board as a producer), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT improves on all the other entries to such a degree that to follow-it-up just might be impossible. I had the same feeling watching FALLOUT that I did watching MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Everything conceivable had been put on-screen in a go-for-broke effort. Star Tom Cruise throws himself into this one like it’s going to be the last action film he ever makes, and that “I’ll thrill you or die trying” attitude makes this one of the most perfectly conceived blockbusters in recent memory.

Unlike some of the others, FALLOUT is a direct sequel to ROGUE NATION, with Hunt still plagued by nightmares about his encounter with Kane, including premonitions of his beloved ex-wife Julia (a returning Michelle Monaghan) dying in an apocalyptic blast. From there we’re off to the races, with a plutonium handover gone wrong leading to a series of ingenious fake-outs and face mask gags that seem plucked right from the TV show that inspired the franchise in the first place. In a smart move, the action scenes don’t kick in right away as in previous installments. Instead, McQuarrie gives the audience a moment to take a breath before kicking things off with a Halo jump over Paris that ends with an amazing hand-to-hand fight in a men’s room where Cruise and Cavill tangle with an insanely skilled opponent – an action beat that rivals anything in THE RAID.

My issue with GHOST PROTOCOL and ROGUE NATION was that the first two-thirds were always so chockfull of action that by the time the climax hit, there was no way they could possibly top what came before. FALLOUT contains just as much, if not more, action leading to the climax, but the most insane, over the top action scene is wisely left to just before the credits roll, being the crazy helicopter chase teased by the IMAX posters. Before that, we get a harrowing motorcycle chase (on part with the one in ROGUE NATION) and dangerous looking rooftop stunts, in which Cruise actually injured himself badly enough to cause a several month production shutdown (meaning a CGI’d de-mustached Cavill in JUSTICE LEAGUE).

McQuarrie’s action craft has been good from the start, even as far back as THE WAY OF THE GUN, but he outdoes himself here. The wide-lens cinematography (with changing IMAX aspect ratios) by Rob Hardy and the score by Lorne Balfe give this a Christopher Nolan vibe, albeit with the grounded action that’s becoming McQuarrie’s staple.

Pretty much every other film in the franchise gets a nod (even the first – with Vanessa Kirby’s White Widow tied to Vanessa Redgrave’s arms-dealer, Max), with Simon Pegg back as sidekick Benji Dunn, while Ving Rhames has his biggest part since the third film, being out in the field with Hunt throughout. Even Alec Baldwin gets in on the action a bit (although Jeremy Renner sits this one out). ROGUE NATION’s breakout star, Rebecca Ferguson is back as Ilsa, with the film doing a good job of further exploring their relationship and flirtation, with her the only close colleague he’s been involved with that doesn’t need protecting. Michelle Monaghan makes a welcome return as Julie, in a smallish part (although bigger than in GHOST PROTOCOL), while Henry Cavill stacks up well opposite Cruise as the newest member of the team, whose loyalties are never clear. For the first time ever, Cruise has a semi-opponent that seems like a legitimate threat to him on a physical level, another thing that gives this an edge over the rest of the series.

In many ways, FALLOUT feels like the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie Cruise has been building towards since 1996. Always one of the most entertaining franchises, FALLOUT is a textbook example of big-budget filmmaking where the creators have clearly perfected a formula and decided to go all-out. It’s one of those perfect modern blockbusters like THE DARK KNIGHT, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, SKYFALL, and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, which perfectly illustrates just how good a movie like this could be. You’ll be eager for another MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE as soon as credits roll, but if Cruise and company were to call it a day, you couldn’t blame them. This will be near impossible to top – although if anyone can manage Cruise can.


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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.