Mission: Impossible – Fallout Movie Review

The Mission: Impossible franchise has now reached its sixth feature and its 22nd year of existence, providing the seemingly ageless Tom Cruise with a hit making series that continues to deliver. That’s a rather remarkable accomplishment and Fallout belongs in the upper echelons in terms of bang for your buck entertainment.

Truth be told, there’s been no total dog yet in the Mission sagas. My one minor complaint about its predecessor, 2015’s Rogue Nation, was its lack of directorial vision. Christopher McQuarrie and his large squad of tech and stunt wizards pulled off some impressive action sequences in that picture. However, unlike the previous four pics, it didn’t feel quite as distinctive. Part 1 was certainly a Brian De Palma experience and the first sequel was all kinds of John Woo (for occasionally better and more for the worse). Same goes for J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird in the next ones (Ghost Protocol still stands as my personal favorite).

McQuarrie is the first filmmaker to return in the director’s chair. I must admit that maybe I just didn’t fully recognize his stamp on the series the first time around. These latest missions are all about spectacle and not really concerned with melding the mayhem to its maker’s vision. In Fallout, that’s pretty much perfectly OK even more so than in Rogue. That’s because the team of people making the action are the best at it. We’ve seen plenty of car chases, helicopter battles, and bathroom brawls in our time. This franchise excels at it in ways few others do.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF squad (including Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) pick up two years after the events of the fifth installment. Learned Mission watchers know the plot will likely be convoluted and a secondary consideration. That’s true here, but let’s go over the basics. We have lost plutonium that IMF must find or risk nuclear attack. Part 5’s villain (Sean Harris) is involved. Ethan is forced to partner with a bulky CIA agent (Henry Cavill). MI6 agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) from Rogue resurfaces. She continues to be one of Hunt’s more interesting partners. And the short-lived wedded bliss that we witnessed Ethan in during part 3 with Michelle Monaghan becomes a focal point. Oh… and there’s plenty of double crosses. And those masks. Fallout also features the most satisfying use of a CNN anchor ever committed to film.

Of course, all of this leads to Ethan globe-trotting from London to Paris to Kashmir. And the song remains the same: our hero is the only one capable of figuring out how to keep the world from crumbling. What’s often startling is just how much care is expended in creating the impossible situations he finds himself in. McQuarrie’s biggest contribution may just be the go for broke style vibe to Ethan’s dangerous exploits. As always, Cruise is a more than willing subject and he even broke his ankle during one stunt.

Cruise and McQuarrie simply refuse to allow Mission to coast on auto pilot. The franchise continues to come up with new and exciting ways to put our mega star in peril. Six films in, that is quite a feat.

***1/2 (out of four)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Box Office Prediction

Now in its 22nd year of existence, Tom Cruise’s signature franchise keeps rolling along as Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth offering in the series debuts stateside next weekend. Christopher McQuarrie is the first director to come back behind the camera (he made 2015’s predecessor Rogue Nation) for repeat work after Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and Brad Bird made their stand-alone entries. Returning cast members from previous installments include Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin. Newcomers include Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett.

The buzz for Fallout indicates it could be a high mark in the long running franchise. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 93% with some critics claiming it’s the best of the bunch thus far. It’s particularly being praised for its action scenes and stunt work (which actually caused its mega-watt star to break an ankle on set). Even with the generous helping of sequels and genre pics out there (Skyscraper will be in its third weekend of release with The Equalizer 2 in its second), this series seems to be going strong.

In order to achieve the largest opening of all the M:I features, Fallout would need to top the $57 million achieved 18 years ago by part 2. Rogue Nation came close three summers ago with $55 million. I believe this should have enough juice to do so with a low to mid 60s gross.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout opening weekend prediction: $63.6 million

For my Teen Titans Go! To the Movies prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/18/teen-titans-go-to-the-movies-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

For 22 years now, the Mission: Impossible franchise has been a sturdy and profitable one for its star Tom Cruise. Two weeks from now, the sixth picture in the series Mission: Impossible – Fallout hits theaters stateside. Early reviews have been quite impressive with some critics hailing it as the best movie of the bunch so far. One prominent critic went as far to say it’s the best action flick since Mad Max: Fury Road. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 96%.

In case you forgot, Fury Road got itself a Best Picture nomination. That seems highly unlikely for Fallout, but it’s fair to speculate whether voters will choose to honor it in any way. If they do, it would probably be in a technical category or two with Sound Editing and Sound Mixing being the most obvious. Fallout is being hailed for its amazing action sequences (if there was an Oscar category for Best Stunts, that race could be a wrap).

Of the five Mission‘s that have preceded this, they have a collective Oscar nod count of zero. Just that fact makes it a long shot that part 6 receives any attention. However, if some of the tech category voters want to throw it a bone, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Ethan Hunt Files – Mission: Impossible II

Over two years ago on this here blog, when it was in its infancy, I did the 007 Files where I wrote individualized blog posts on all 23 Bond flicks. That got me thinking about other series I could do the same with and in January 2013, I started The Ethan Hunt Files and wrote about the first Mission: Impossible pic from 1996.

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/01/31/the-ethan-hunt-files-mission-impossible/

I had every intention of writing about the other three in short order. For whatever reason I did not follow up. With the fifth M:I picture Rogue Nation debuting in July, I decided it was time to resume this series of posts and we continue with Mission: Impossible II from the summer of 2000…

And what an interesting film it is, especially considering the franchise entries that preceded it and followed it. M:I II stands out as the strangest pic in the series and the one that fits in least with the rest. Two words explain the main reason for this: John Woo. The acclaimed action director took over directing duties from Brian De Palma for the second picture and didn’t have an ounce of hesitation about turning it into a bonafide Woo affair with all the slow motion shots, quick cuts, and (yes) doves that come along with it. There are certainly some similarities to the original – foremost of which is the continuation and multiplication of those fancy face masks.

Unlike Mission 1, here we have Tom Cruise’s Ethan in a romantic relationship with the gorgeous Nyah (Thandie Newton), a jewel thief who is the ex of Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), an IMF agent gone bad who Ethan is after. Ambrose has stolen a nasty virus called Chimera, as well as its antidote, in an effort to make billions on the pharmaceutical market. Nyah is enlisted to get back in the good graces of her evil ex to get information, but not before she falls in love with Ethan first. They do so during a car chase in which Ethan nearly kills her, then kisses her. It happens.

Ethan is given his mission by the new head of IMF, played by Anthony Hopkins in what is essentially a glorified cameo. Our hero is conflicted by sending Nyah into such a dangerous mission. This all might’ve worked a bit better if the chemistry between Cruise and Newton felt authentic. We simply have zero investment in their romance and by the time Nyah bravely infects herself with the virus, you don’t really mind if Chimera wins. And a lot of the film could have been improved if Scott’s performance as our head villain wasn’t so utterly unremarkable. Some may know that M:I II’s production went into overtime and it forced Dougray Scott to be dropped from playing Wolverine in that same summer’s X-Men. An unknown actor named Hugh Jackman stepped in at the last minute. This is a good thing and Scott went from the next potential Wolverine to that dull M:I II villain that kinda looks like Ewan McGregor.

Ving Rhames returns as Luther, Ethan’s fellow agent who excels in counting down the clock as Hunt performs those impossible stunts. Rade Serbedvija gives a somewhat delightfully off kilter performance as the doctor who created Chimera and Brendan Gleeson is the nefarious owner of the corporation exploiting the virus for financial gain.

The De Palma Mission was a rock solid spy thriller anchored by three first rate action centerpieces: the aquarium sequence, the Langley infiltration and the train finale. In part two, there’s the bio chem lab sequence and the motorcycle chase finale that are front and center.

Neither are as memorable as anything from the previous effort. There’s also the Cruise rock climbing business in the beginning which basically exists so its stunt loving star can look cool rock climbing.

In hindsight, M:I II is easily the weakest link of this franchise. It doesn’t much feel like a Mission feature anymore as much as a John Woo movie with Ethan Hunt in it. Acclaimed screenwriter Robert Towne (who cowrote the first) has sole credit here and a hefty portion of the dialogue, particularly Newton’s, is a bit cringe worthy. Mission: Impossible II has enough fairly cool action to satisfy your average teenage boy, but it pales next to the rest of the Missions. And there’s no excuse for Limp Bizkit reworking that classic TV series theme either.

So while its reputation has deservedly soured in recent times, that didn’t stop part two from becoming a huge global success and earning over half a billion worldwide. It also was the highest domestic grosser of summer 2000 and virtually guaranteed a third go round for Hunt and his IMF team.

Here are the facts:

Film: Mission: Impossible II

U.S. Release Date: May 24, 2000

Director: John Woo

Screenplay: Robert Towne

Budget: $125 million

Worldwide Box Office: $546.3 million

The Ethan Hunt files will return with Mission: Impossible III