‘Mission: Impossible - Fallout ’ review: Higher stakes, higher action

Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout has something and more for everyone, whatever their taste in films, preference in action, or response to the quirks and charisma of film franchise’s lead star and progenitor, Tom Cruise. (My big break: Tom Cruise on the snapped ankle that halted 'M:I6')

Refuses to pause

The film refuses to pause.

Even its breathers, which are mostly moments of levity or ingenious exposition, are infused with suspense and tension. It is as if each joke cracked by loyal genius Benji (Simon Pegg) or each emotional reunion with characters from the past take a toll on the success rate of the very impossible mission that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is recruited to accomplish. The stakes are just too high for the film’s heroes to be afforded humanity.

But that is exactly the point of Fallout.

The first setpiece introduces Hunt as the unique operative who will save a comrade even if it would risk the failure of a leg of a mission. In a stand-off between him and a group of nasty plutonium sellers, his successful attempt to rescue his comrade Luther (Ving Rhames) from certain death results in the plutonium which he was supposed to recover falling into the wrong hands, unleashing nuclear explosions in various religious cities around the globe.

TROUBLE. Ethan Hunt finds himself in another dangerous mission.

TROUBLE. Ethan Hunt finds himself in another dangerous mission.

The point of Fallout is not to introduce Hunt as a hero who can do anything and everything. Those were already done and redone in the previous films in varying degrees of success. The point of this latest installment is to make Hunt’s mission even more impossible.

He has to save the world with his integrity intact, which in this particular episode’s case, is quite difficult. He has to survive a chase through Paris’ busy streets without harming any cops. He has to ensure that August Walker (Henry Cavill), the rather annoying brute the CIA has forced into his mission, is alive after a freak accident while freefalling from a plane.

Culmination of a career

Fallout is perhaps the culmination of Cruise’s career as an action star.

His stunts here are daring. They are outrageous but never to the point of being comical. However, while there is always that sense that this installment of Mission: Impossible is still primarily a vanity project, the film at least also utilizes Cruise’s curious appeal that only reveals itself whenever he is in the losing edge.

A huge part of the pleasure derived from Doug Liman’s extremely entertaining films, The Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and American Made (2017), is seeing Cruise either perishing numerously or being under extreme duress.

In Fallout, Cruise is not just truly heroic, he is also very human, susceptible to not just self-doubt but also being outmaneuvered in physical feats. In the splendidly choreographed fist fight set in a Parisian nightclub, Cruise is essentially a limp noodle in the midst of heavy-fisted Cavill and dangerously nimble stuntman Liang Yang.

McQuarrie understands that the current appeal of Cruise isn’t as an unflappable action star but as someone who needs to get tested, bested and beaten up to be truly triumphant. Anything less just wouldn’t work.

Fallout is so efficient in making its audience root for Cruise.

In providing him a supporting team composed of characters who have their own motivations and baggage, the film grants the actor a semblance of generosity. The film’s final set-piece has Cruise’s air-bound chase share the screen with two other thrilling sequences that put his equally appealing comrades and their brushes with danger in the same spotlight as him. It is a proper climax to close a consistently exhilarating adventure that puts three-way thrills above star-power.

ACTION. Tom Cruise shows off he can do a lot of action again in the film.

ACTION. Tom Cruise shows off he can do a lot of action again in the film.

Humanity over spectacle

Fallout is a great action film.

It is an action film where humanity trumps spectacle. Exploding buildings are rare. Destruction is kept to a bare minimum. Everything is comprehensible, following a distinct order that is not only physically probably but more importantly, narratively and emotionally logical.

The film is constantly kinetic but it never resorts to the crutch of cheap chaos. – Rappler.com


Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema