Review Summary: While this Mission Impossible film is above the average the series has created for itself, it is, in the end, as subject to the series’ tropes and contrivances as any other entry has been. Don’t let the flooding positive feedback take you by storm, and don’t expect this movie to be any more than the ‘Mission Impossible’ title makes you expect it to be: It’s a fun romp, but there’s nothing of real substance here.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is the sixth film in the Mission Impossible series, a fact so unknown to me that I had to google search it just before writing that line. In fact, I’m surprised that number wasn’t higher – This series does feel like it’s been going on forever.
And while that fact does come with a bit of genre fatigue, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mission Impossible has survived (and continues to survive) due to the skillful isolation of its own specific genre and tone. Watching a Mission Impossible movie is something akin to going to see the next Transformers film: You watch it for the ride, for the stunts and action, and maybe for the characters, but NOT for their emotional struggle.
But Fallout was different. Or, at the very least, it seemed to think so. And the crowds agreed with it: Seeing this movie late allowed me to read up on all the praise it was getting. It got a lot more praise than the average MI film, which led me to believe it was something truly different.
Was it? No. But it was a little bit better: Smarter, quicker, and more self-aware.
The Mission Impossible films are good at a few things, and Fallout improves on the series standard for almost all of those things. One major praise I have is the excellent pacing: The film starts moving and never, never stops – save for a single awkward transition towards the end. A good portion of it is concerned with one continuous heist-style sequence filled with car chases that seems content to keep throwing wrenches into the good guys’ plan and forcing them to find their way out of it. Every time they seem to ‘have it down’, a shot rings out from nowhere and the action picks up just as quickly as it left off. This sounds like it would get old, but somehow, it doesn’t; It keeps you guessing and defies genre tropes about how action pacing usually functions. It’s a good time.
Fallout also manages to be extremely self-aware of its own tropes, even making jokes off them at certain times. For example, at the beginning of the film, a new hyper-deadly group of bad dudes are introduced, given a cool name, then left to work in the shadows. Later, the film makes light of the number of groups like these that exist in their universe, a cute bit of self-aware comedy in a series that excels in taking itself just the right amount of not-seriously.
Furthermore, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) goes so far to acknowledge his own ability to pull solutions out of his butt on the fly, solving situations that seem like they’ve got essentially no answer (‘Impossible Missions’). At several points in the film, when asked by supporting characters how he’ll ‘work his way out of this one’, Hunt says something along the lines of ‘I’ll figure it out’, and the supporting characters will say something like ‘Are you sure?’ if they don’t know him too well and ‘Okay, he’ll be fine’ if they know him better.
His character is treated as a fire and forget ‘Cruise Missile’ (Haha) that people fire at their problems when they’re tired of having problems, which is both fun to watch and a way to totally kill all tension or drama a scene might have before he enters it: The film essentially straight-up tells you that he’s going to win because he is himself. Luckily, the actions is cool enough to be fun to look at despite this truth.
But, as I said before, don’t expect anything groundbreaking from the film. In its final moments, the load of positive feedback it had been given left me really rooting for the bad guys: If Hunt failed to stop their plan in the final act, the result would be something that would really change subsequent films and events. I won’t spoil what goes down, but be safe to say that it is, in fact, a Mission Impossible film. The tropes still apply, even if they handle them in new and improved ways.
Is it a good movie? Yes, but you won’t lose anything by missing this one in theaters. Like all the other MI films, they’re more akin to Saturday Morning cartoons than cinematic setpieces. They’re a fun, if not emotionally impactful, way to spend 2.5 hours.
To close: Hunt has more plot armor in this film than he EVER has before. I’m fully expecting him to cross over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point: With the amount of superhuman durability this man has, he could probably give Iron Man a run for his money. Which is significant, because Iron Man has a lot of money.