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New Release Review - MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT review
Another impossible mission for Ethan Hunt and his crew.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Alec Baldwin

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT poster


Though Mission: Impossible - Fallout - the sixth instalment in a franchise that appears to be going from strength to strength - features a villainous plot to starve a third of the planet's population, there's a theme frequently reinforced throughout its narrative regarding how IMF agent extraordinaire Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is as concerned with the lives of the one as those of the millions.

In the tensest moment the franchise has given us since a stray bead of sweat threatened to betray Hunt in Brian de Palma's 1996 series starter, Hunt and his crew find themselves in a standoff with a gun-wielding but terrified Parisian beat cop. A more mean-spirited franchise might simply have Hunt cold-bloodedly take out the cop, justifying his actions with the credo that the lives of millions are more important than that of any individual, while perhaps finding himself later haunted by his actions. Not so MI; here, every life matters.


MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

Fallout's commentary on collateral damage feels like a rebuke to the city destroying blockbusters that have dominated the box office over the last decade, where heroes and villains duke it out in urban areas with scant regard for the lives of the citizens around them. Think Matt Damon, Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel mowing down innocent motorists in the moronic chase scenes of Jason Bourne, A Good Day to Die Hard and Fast & Furious 6 respectively. But perhaps no movie illustrates this trend quite like Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, Man of Steel, in which the caped 'hero' causes the deaths of thousands of Metropolis's citizens in an overblown climactic duel with General Zod. Fallout sees Hunt paired up against his will with Walker, a hawkish CIA agent who shoots first and then realises he can't ask questions of a corpse. That Walker is played by Superman himself, Henry Cavill, seems like more than a mere coincidence.

Though Hunt doesn't possess any supernatural gifts, he's the most exciting superhero we have on our screens today, and he's far closer to the traditional representation of Superman than the blockhead seen in recent D.C. movies. In bringing the comic book hero to the big screen in the new age of the '70s blockbuster, director Richard Donner took great care to show his Superman (RIP Christopher Reeve) was as dedicated to retrieving cats from trees as to saving the world itself, and Hunt is cut from a similar cloth. While undercover with a gang of criminals led by the flirtatious White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), daughter of Max, the arms dealer played by Vanessa Redgrave in the 1996 movie, Hunt realises their plan to hijack a police convoy will likely lead to the deaths of numerous cops and so sets in motion a plan that could jeopardise his larger goal of averting a global famine in order to save a dozen or so lives of the boys and girls in blue.


MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

Hunt has his own Lois Lane too, in the form of ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who is used as leverage against Hunt by the movie's villain. Carry on with his mission and Julia gets it. Which is more important to Hunt? The one or the millions? 'Why not both?' is his unspoken reply.

While Julia might find herself tied to metaphorical train tracks, the film gives us a female hero who is the equal of Hunt in the form of MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, returning from the previous film. As played by Rebecca Ferguson, she's a dynamo, and the Swedish actress is as convincing in her action set-pieces as the veteran Cruise is in his own.

And what set-pieces they are. Personally, I wish the franchise would return to the more intimate, Hitchcockian set-pieces De Palma gave us 22 years ago, but director Christopher McQuarrie imbues his action scenes with the same philosophy as his protagonist, never losing focus of the individual amid the chaos. Hunt finds himself on a foot/bike/car chase through the busy streets of Paris that will have you covering your eyes as he narrowly misses oncoming traffic by centimetres, and a homage to James Garner's trademark 'Rockford spin' - pulled off while traversing a set of steps - will have car chase fans on their feet in applause.


MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT

For adrenaline junkies, the highlight comes late on and involves a pair of helicopters, with Cruise risking life and limb once again to pull off a practical stunt that gives two fingers to the leaden CG non-spectacles you'll see in every other major action movie this summer. A final knowing line, delivered with that billion dollar smirk, acknowledges the physical toll this series is taking on Cruise. At 56 (only a year younger than the late Roger Moore was during the filming of A View to a Kill), how many more of these movies can Cruise possibly have in him? I wouldn't bet against the Cruiser making us gasp well into his sixties, and if he can continue to entertain us with his unique Elvis meets Jackie Chan charisma, we'll be with him all the way.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is in UK/ROI cinemas July 25th.




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