Say what you like about Tom Cruise – he knows how to make a damn good action movie.
The man is 57 years old and last year starred in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth in the iconic secret agent series – and they just keep getting bigger and better. It seems Cruise has found a strong creative partner in director Christopher McQuarrie; either that or McQuarrie is carrying out some sort of elaborate plan to send him to his death, which, judging by the stunts Cruise pulls off in this film, would not surprise me.
In the 2 hours and 20 minutes runtime of Fallout, we see Cruise actually jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet and act his way through what is stitched together to look like one continuous take of the descent, actually ride a motorbike through Paris in a wild multi-car chase, and actually fly a helicopter through a landscape of cliffs – not to mention a classic running sequence across London rooftops.
You’ll spend so much time taking sharp intakes of breath and fearing for the star’s safety that it almost – but not quite – distracts you from the incredible cinematography on display. An aircraft hanger with a pink sunset sky, aerial shots of Ethan Hunt atop the Tate Modern, and a memorable (but too short! give us more!) fistfight in an all-white bathroom are just some of the standout moments, but Fallout is full of reasons to remind you that in the right hands, action movies can be the most beautiful.
The ensemble the MI franchise has established is a big part of what makes them so compelling. Ving Rhames as the effortlessly cool Luther, Simon Pegg injecting comedic charm, and Rebecca Ferguson is back for the second time as Ilsa Faust: a British agent almost as deadly as Hunt, she feels good as a match for Cruise.
And lest we forget, Fallout also gives us Henry Cavill as Agent Walker, with That Moustache, and That Arm Reload.
What really puts a smile on your face whilst watching this movie is how much it leans in to the core elements of Mission: Impossible. The opening feels old school, with the ‘your mission, should you choose to accept it’ and self-destructing message present and correct, and the classic theme tune blasting out during the opening credits during a montage of action shots. It would feel like a throwback if the images flashing before our eyes weren’t so indicative of just how many boundaries this film is pushing when it comes to stunts.
It’s extremely light on plot, though heavy with enjoyable twists and excellent rubber mask usage, as we’ve come to expect – and who really gives a shit when Tom Cruise is literally hanging off a chopper, or scaling the side of a mountain?
Much of Mission: Impossible – Fallout (aside from the extraordinary stunts) are largely forgettable, but the sense of exhaustion you’re left with will hang around for a while. As the credits roll, you’ll feel like you were right there with Cruise himself, plummeting through the air or hanging on to a cliff face by your fingertips – just as he and McQuarrie intended.