The Two Reviews: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018 Christopher McQuarrie)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Produced by J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise.
Featuring Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby and Alec Baldwin.

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The Mission Impossible series has become impossible. Impossible to comprehend. Impossible to keep up with. Impossible to reason with. Impossible to…not like. It is meant to be tremendous fun (just like Father Larry Duff) and it is. Whatever happened between Brian de Palma’s neat beginnings of the movie franchise (c. 1996) and Brad Bird’s reinvigoration of humour in (I think) the fourth instalment (c. 2011), I have little care for. But on an outing to the movie theatre in a dreary Perth winter, when the alternatives are either a film about crazy, rich Asians or another Jason Statham shitshow, Mission: Impossible 6 is an option that appeals most…and despite the cynicism, it doesn’t disappoint.

The dry voice in my head does whisper as I take my seat ‘let’s see how J.J. Abrams foresees a world being saved this time around’. Because let’s be honest, in an Abrams movie, a world is always being saved. Whether it’s ours or an intergalactic one, it doesn’t matter. As M:I6 diligently sets out (though it takes a good 45 minutes of exasperated action to get there), a deranged, evil and incarcerated man, has the methods and the means (don’t ask how) to bring the world to its knees, because…you know…he was once told in school that he had a hairy arse or something. The gang-busting abilities of Ethan Hunt and co. have never been more needed. Thank flip the Scientologists allowed the Cruise-meister outside for this one.

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It’s a simple action film really. There are good guys, bad guys, not so bad guys, and guys in the background who nobody really cares about (Wes Bentley – the guy who liked plastic bags in American Beauty – is that guy in this film). Guys, of course, being gender-neutral here. It is a different world for movies these days after all, and McQuarrie and Abrams don’t want to be caught out. There are beautiful women who, shock, horror, turn out to be smart and beautiful at the same time. Unfortunately two of the women who have supporting roles (Ferguson and Kirby) are utilised too sparingly and could easily be interchangeable. There are also blockhead henchmen who don’t turn out to be that good at fighting. There are bombs with countdown clocks and wires that have to be cut. And there is Simon Pegg. These last three details are not so nuanced, rather forming the more expected clichéd-ness of a Hollywood action thriller.

One ponders how different this film actually is to, say, a Daniel Craig-era James Bond film. The pondering ceases 30 minutes in after a pulsating sequence involving a parachute onto an extremely fancy building hosting a rave party in Paris and a bathroom brawl of epic proportions (you just have to stop with the how’s and why’s). For a second I thought Craig had tagged in for Cruise to land a few punches. If only Ethan Hunt had a favourite drink to order so he could settle the nerves after a potentially life-threatening fist fight like this, then we could be set up nicely for Bond meets Hunt – the answer to Bond 25’s current production problems?

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But seriously, how about this Tom Cruise guy? At 56, he certainly looks like he could be taking more of a breather between those runs across buildings. But whatever. He still convinces me that he can do all that. And as one movie-goer stated, the best thing about this film is that you never once stop to wonder about this whole Scientology thing. By all accounts, he is not a complete arsehole. My brother actually worked on arranging some of the sets in Norway (the scenes near the end of the film) and he told me that Cruise humbly came to everybody and praised them for making it all possible (haha, get it?). That smile can go a long way, I guess. Overall, it’s a mad film but like Robin says below  , it’s the type of movie that gives us a reason to go to the cinema. It is well made, good fun and has its share of gripping moments.

Reviewed by JJ McDermott – Rated 3/5

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This is the latest installment in the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible action thriller series (No. 6!). It’s impossible, completely silly and fun. The slick Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the IMF Team (NOT the International Monetary Fund, though perhaps not impossible) cooperates with CIA operative August Walker (Cavill – not in a Superman costume this time) to avert the destruction of all of humanity in an insane plot by Mr. Evil himself, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Who ya gonna call? The Mission Impossible team of course.

It’s hard to describe the plot because I’m not sure there is one. A series of well-shot and well-edited action scenes and intermediate dialogue pieces with both tension and comic playfulness seem to be enough to hold this film together. And I think the nonsensical storyline is fine, because the tongue-in-cheek dialogue reminds the audience that it’s meant to be a bit of a hoot; so sit back and have fun. But let’s try to say there is a plot: the evil, single-minded Lane and his band of ideologically inspired terrorists have devised a fail-safe plan to destroy most of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, after which humanity can rebuild itself along a more rational path. And to add a bit more chaos, someone on the good side saving the world is a plant, working to undermine them. But, of course.

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Old but welcome faces include Hunt’s team of dedicated heroes: Luther (Rhames), Benji (Pegg), Ilsa (Ferguson) and former CIA director Alan Hunley (Baldwin). And they are assisted by CIA boss (Angela Bassett) and CIA enforcer August (Cavill). I liked seeing Alec Baldwin as the IMF secretary (a bit like M in the James Bond films). Vanessa Kirby is great as the intermediary trader called White Widow – she was one of the few characters I really took to, but was underused in the second half of the film. This is a weakness in the film I think. It seemed to put her in the middle of the action, only to reduce her to a small side player by the end. No consistency. But hey, there’s a ticking time-bomb with a clock count down at the end! Or is it really the end?

The film is tight, well edited, has good stunts (but truly incredulous), great photography, decent sound and despite the silliness of it all, the script is actually quite good. It is hammed up for sure, but isn’t that a good reason to go to the movies? If you follow the Mission Impossible films, you’ll like this. And if you like action films that don’t take themselves too seriously, you’ll also have fun.

Reviewed by Robin Stevens – Rated 2.5/5

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