Six films and twenty-two years (yes, really!) in and the evolution of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise continues to startle and surprise with its latest instalment, Fallout. Cast your mind back over the series to date and what you come to notice is a cinematic hit-machine that began life as “what if Bond, but an anthology of directorial visions” only to eventually usurp the Bond series in the globetrotting spy adventure category when that franchise turned itself instead toward character introspection. It’s fitting then that Fallout should, at times, scratch away at the same character-fuelled drama as Bond mega-hit Skyfall. But bigger. With more explosions. More laughs. And a new standard of helicopter chase that’ll swiftly top any rival attempts in much the same way The French Connection did for urban driving.
Fallout comprises what is effectively the Mission: Impossible series’ first outright attempt at a sequel – sequel not only to previous instalment, Rogue Nation, but also Mission: Impossible III (arguably the franchise’s stealth reboot) and the big, bold, behemoth that was fourth chapter, Ghost Protocol, to boot. Rogue Nation villain Solomon Lane’s (the terrifyingly dead-hearted Sean Harris) safely tucked up on a world tour of intelligence agency black sites, but the former agents of his anti-IMF organisation, The Syndicate, are still out there. Now calling themselves The Apostles, the organisation has gotten its hands on some black market plutonium – enough to enable their own anarchic world vision – having snatched said materials from super spy Ethan Hunt (a now concerningly frozen-in-age Tom Cruise). With the possible devastation of the world on his conscience, Hunt sets out to take the plutonium off the board, and take down The Apostles once and for all. But doing so will take Ethan to extremes he’s never faced before, and deal in consequences he could never have imagined would hit quite so close to home.
As well as being the series’ first “number two”, Fallout wheels out not only a largely returning cast (Jeremy Renner sits this one out, with Angela Basset in as the new CIA boss and Henry Cavill her ruthless lackey), but also the first and second returning female leads of the entire franchise. Heck, even director Christopher McQuarrie’s back for the ride – the gang is near entirely all here, and one assumes the mood in crafting the film was one of absolute enthusiasm at all times, cos it certainly feels it from the other side of the screen. Fallout’s a merciless excessive panther of a picture, with every swing it takes the most daring it can, every stunt the most breathtaking it can be, and every loss and triumph hitting their emotional markers like a bullseye. It’s wall-to-wall great, start to finish, and it continues the franchise’s Fast & Furiouslike rhythm of getting more and more fun every time.
Cruise remains ever the engaging action star, and, yes, of course he gets to chuck in a couple of his obligatory sprints here and there. The returnees (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, et al) all settle nicely back into what are now impressively expanded roles (which one suspects, in the case of Pegg and Ving Rhames, are an unexpected perk of Renner’s Avengers 4 commitments) and Henry Cavill makes for a rather fun addition to the mix, as does Basset in delivering what feels like at least her 20th flawless run as hard-ass authority figure. A Mission: Impossible flick’s only really as good as its villain though, with Harris, again, making for the kind who just emits the feeling of dread from his every pore – his role here deliciously fattened up after his less-is-more turn last time around.
Easily the biggest and best instalment yet of what’s become the only ongoing rival for the Bond series, Fallout’s not perfect – it’s maybe a half hour too long, the marketing’s given ever so slightly too much away, and Wes Bentley might as well show up in a white t-shirt sporting “Whitney Fordman” in big black letters – but it’s pretty damn close. McQuarrie’s direction is tight, the script’s a brilliant balancing act of humorous and emotionally punchy, and there’s spectacle you’ll genuinely never have experienced before. Mission: Incredible.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in cinemas nationwide from Wednesday, July 25th; rated 12A. Check out the trailer below.