The Mission:Impossible franchise is one of those that gets better with each film. At the end of every movie you wonder, how will they make a chase more exciting, a cliffhanger more nerve-wracking, Tom Cruise more agile…and they accomplish it.
Fallout, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, is the sixth in the series, and never mind the skinny plot; all that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his fearless cohorts of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force, only Hollywood could think up that one!) need is a reason to go ballistic. Here it’s three balls of plutonium (that look a bit like hubcaps), that a bunch of terrorists want, and they have to be prevented from getting their hands on that destructive cargo, or nuclear holocaust will ensue at the world’s religious sites.
Hunt, with Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) almost gets the plutonium, but in trying to save Luther’s life, he loses it, and has to jump through complicated hoops to get it back. The CIA boss Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett), who does not like the methods (rubber masks? seriously?) used by the IMF and the head Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), insists that her man, the stone-faced August Walker (Henry Cavill) accompanies Hunt on the mission to get it back, this time from an international crook called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who names her price. This involves springing old villain Solomon Lane (Simon Harris) from custody — and a breathtaking chase through Paris, with M16 operative Ilsa Faust (Rebeccas Ferguson, returning from the last film) entering the fray.
This franchise has action served straight up (with Cruise reportedly doing most of it himself), with little or no CGI intervention, so one can imagine the effort and precision going into shooting and editing those chases over streets and rooftops — the one in London, with Hunt racing after his prey as Benji yells instructions into his ear, is a masterpiece of action sequences. The only small problem is that a couple of the scenes go on for too long and ease the tension where it needs to be tightened. Hunt going all moony at the thought of his ex-wife (Michelle Monaghan) was also avoidable, but included perhaps to show that the 56-year-old man who runs, climbs, jumps, falls, sky dives, fights like a cyborg, is actually human — he even broke his ankle doing one of the stunts.
But reckless abandon is what Ethan Hunt is all about, so that he can match the antics of the Bonds and Bournes of the movie world.