Without further ado, for the festive season – the IMDb Trivia Chorus:
On the first day of Christmas, Mission Impossible: Fallout gave to me… three thousand set-ups, thirteen helicopters, six pregnancies, five hiatuses, four weeks of aerial photography, three continents, two winters and one broken ankle.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the sixth film in the franchise. The sixth. You’d struggle to name any franchise that’s had six fairly continuous cinema releases, let alone of such consistent quality. Arguably the series is only getting better – RT and Metacritic scores have steadily risen with each new mission, each more impossible than the last. But unfortunately, that trend is likely to change – because how do you top Mission: Impossible – Fallout?
M:I6 takes the series in a new direction: backwards. Every other film in the franchise wipes the slate clean for the new mission, both in front of and behind the camera. New directors, new IMF team, new sneering baddies. This has been the secret ingredient so far – keeping Mission: Impossible vibrant and current with fresh eyes each time. Then Christopher McQuarrie came along and messed the whole thing up – because once you’ve invented characters like Ilsa Faust and Solomon Lane, you can’t go back to square one.
And so M:I6 is truly a sequel, picking up on the threads – and fallout – from Rogue Nation. Initially, this seems like a terrible idea, as we open with a blistering deluge of exposition. Lane (Sean Harris) remains behind bars, his “apostles” are wreaking havoc, new mystery man “John Lark” is the talk of the town, and there are three nuclear devices in the wind. Cue the music.
McQuarrie sets the stakes very high, and then brings the whole thing crashing down to earth immediately, as Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces a very real choice: save the world or save his friend. He picks his friend, and we’re off to the races. Fallout spins everything out of a surprisingly affecting thread – how much longer can Hunt go on winning? At every stage he’s been presented with horrible moral decisions, Kobayashi Maru after Kobayashi Maru, but he always wins. Surely his luck has to run out?
The answer is a resounding no. Even if he ends up hanging off a burning mountain clasping the final MacGuffin in his teeth, Ethan Hunt will make it work and damn you for suggesting otherwise. Fallout acknowledges the insanity of its lead and it’s all the better for it. This is most clear in the film’s Paris sequence. Hunt needs to kidnap his archnemesis, save him from getting killed by an old flame, trade him for the nukes without trading him for the nukes – and make sure no bystanders get hurt in the process. Oh, and stay undercover the entire time. What follows is without a doubt the second most breathtaking action sequence in film this year. Why is it not first? BECAUSE MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT TRUMPS IT LATER ON.
Tom Cruise is the gift that keeps on giving. The man’s been working in Hollywood for almost 40 years, ragdolling himself across the silver screen for our entertainment. He’s 56 now – around the same age as Jon Voight in the original Mission: Impossible, by the way – but there’s no sign of slowing down.
Take the broken ankle from earlier. Cruise broke it on set during one of the film’s smallest stunts. He carried right on with the take, before heading to the hospital where doctors told him he might never run again. Six weeks later, he was back on sent sprinting. The man is an idiot, and a godsend to cinema. Say what you will about his range; no other A-lister is willing to die for your amusement. The biggest method-acting danger for Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread was choking on a sausage.
You’d think Cruise would be running out of skills to learn, or things to jump out of or into. This time around, he jumped out of a plane over a hundred times for the almost-superfluous HALO jump in the first act, and learned to fly and roll a helicopter for the film’s jawdropping crescendo. But sure, Joaquin Phoenix is Best Actor calibre because he grew a beard and cried into it.
This all sounds very intense, and it is. But Mission: Impossible – Fallout keeps three aces up its sleeve. As Hunt’s Team, Luther Strickell, Benji Dunn and Ilsa Faust (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson) keep the film level as we’re bouncing from set piece to set piece. Without them, Cruise would just fall into his own bland machoism, but there’s a tenderness to their chemistry that cuts through the action. Most importantly, they amplify the ridiculousness of the mask-wearing shenanigans of any average IMF plan – giving the whole thing a farcical quality worthy of the original ’60s TV series.
Pegg, Rhames and Ferguson have all carved out incredible characters within their own spaces, and each gets a moment to shine. Alec Baldwin also has a blast as returning character Alan Hunley – it’s arguably the film’s greatest joke that in a world of Ilsas, Solomons and Luthers, the head honcho is named Alan. Of course, its not all returning faces – we have to talk about Henry Cavill.
Actually, we don’t. The GIF says it all.
My favorite moment in the Mission Impossible trailer is when Henry Cavill reloads his arms. pic.twitter.com/ReJHY5lfoM
— 🎄 What's Up Dan-ger 🎄 (dan pearce) (@GameDesignDan) May 16, 2018
The success of Mission: Impossible undoubtedly rests with Tom Cruise, but Mission: Impossible – Fallout is McQuarrie’s show. This isn’t just good art, it’s great craftsmanship. Every cog is perfectly sized, every screw tightly wound, and Fallout moves fluidly across his singular vision. McQuarrie understands that the franchise is about expansion – bigger threats, bigger stunts, bigger performances – but he adds depth as well as breadth. This is character examination without maudlin introspection, putting Hunt and co. through the ringer without lapsing into lengthy monologues about destiny and duty. Hunt wins not because he chooses to, but because he has to. There’s no time for speeches – there’s another jump to make.
N.B. As our site is UK based, we work off the selection of films released in cinemas in the UK in 2018.
So to recap, here’s our Top 20 to 8…
13th – BLACKKKLANSMAN
8th – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT
Stay tuned each and every day for the remainder of the year to read more on our Top 10 films of 2018!