I honestly can’t get enough of Tom Cruise. Despite his penchant for looney behavior off screen, I believe him to be one of the most underrated actors of all time. There are very few actors that have been doing it as long and at the quality level that he has been operating at for decades. I am 41, that means he has been cranking out quality films since I was five years old, which puts him at 56 years old, and yet he still looks and maintains the physicality of a much younger man. As far as I know, he is the only actor that I grew up with doing A-level action movies, that is still doing them, and executing at a high level. I can go through his filmography and easily pick more than a dozen excellent films, whether it’s stellar sci-fi like Edge of Tomorrow, or a hilarious cameo like Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder, or an action/spy thriller such as the topic of today’s article, MI: Fallout.
The other element that gives Cruise Hall of Fame status on its own is his insistence on doing his own stunts. It would be one thing if he were doing simple fight choreography or small jumps, but he goes to level 10 on nearly every film, especially the Mission Impossible series. From the outright insanity of the cliff-hanging and knife to the eye scenes from MI: 2, he never fails to go to another level, even now at 56 years old. Fallout is no different; every action scene is meticulously filmed and edited, also has extra weight because you KNOW it’s Cruise doing it himself, thus allowing the camera work to be more visceral. For a filmmaker, the ability to get a legitimate perfect shot using the actor, instead of constant cutting, makes a huge difference, and it shows. This movie, just as it’s predecessors did, has incredible action sequences that nearly defy belief, especially in an age of CG, where so much feels synthetic, these scenes hit like a Mike Tyson uppercut. Think of this: Tom Cruise has become the first actor, ever, to perform the hyper-dangerous HALO jump from a plane. When I say this film delivers the goods on the action scenes, make no mistake, they don’t get much better.
Despite my praise for the incredible action, my favorite part of the film is the motivation of the bad guys, The Apostles. The plot hinges on one of my favorite tropes that I was first introduced to in the legendary Watchmen graphic novel, that is, that the villain believes that the only way to achieve true peace in the world, is through a catastrophe so enormous that it unites all of humanity. The theory is that if mankind were subjected to a large enough tragedy, it would force us to put aside petty squabbles and come together for the greater good. In the Watchmen novel, the tool was a false alien invasion (and changed in the subsequent movie), and in Fallout, it is a poisoning of the water supply at the intersection of China, India, and Pakistan, which would devastate the massive populations of three of the largest countries in the world. In much the same way Ozymandias in Watchmen and Thanos in Infinity War operate, the villains here have real, legitimate beliefs that they believe are in the interest of humanity. I also have to give a lot of credit to Superman himself, Henry Cavill. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since The Tudors, one of my favorite shows of all time, and he delivers here as well, bringing a brutal physicality to his role, without being “generic muscle dude.” Also, there’s a slick little plot move with a “fake dossier” that echoes the Steele Dossier made on President Trump. Intended or not, it made me laugh at the parallels to the real world.
If I have to level any criticism at this movie, it is that it can be a victim of its own history, relying on many of the tropes within the Mission Impossible franchise. In other words, it feels a little too much like a Mission Impossible movie, which is phenomenal in certain aspects, and negative in others. On the positive side, the action, plot, stunts, villains, and twists are all executed nearly flawlessly, and I would go as far as to say the best in the series. On the negative side, the twists feel a little too obvious, since every single MI flick pulls them at the halfway mark, and the “mask” scenes, which the franchise has relied on since the first entry, are not as slick and impressive as they once were. Having said all of that, I do believe this is the best entry in the series right along with the incredible Ghost Protocol. My theory has always been this: You can have a formula to your project, but it better be a DAMN good formula. Whether it be music, movies, TV, or games, I don’t mind a developer or director sticking to a tried and true method as long as it is executed on at the highest level. I never get tired of a perfect ribeye steak, and I likely won’t tire of Mission Impossible movies as long as they are executed at this extremely high level.
In closing, if you are even remotely a fan of action films, as I am, then Mission Impossible: Fallout is a must watch. I consider myself a connoisseur of great action films, be it Die Hard, Dredd, The Raid, or Mission Impossible, and this entry deserves its place on the list of the top tier action films. In addition, it cements Tom Cruise as an absolute action legend, if he wasn’t already. The guy has almost killed himself a few times over, give him his due, and see this movie.
9.5/10 - Masterpiece
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