The most unbelievable moment in Mission: Impossible – Fallout might be a nitpick to some. Tom Cruise’s supersharp IMF operative Ethan Hunt is chasing down the bad guys in a helicopter, and he has no idea how to fly it. Fumbling around with the controls, tapping gauge screens and watching their dials spin as his chopper does the same, the biggest issue here is you’ll doubt that the unthinkable has finally happened. That after six highly dangerous missions that have seen him hanging from skyscrapers, planes and any other obstacle he can evade by the skin of his pearly white teeth, there’s actually something in the world Ethan Hunt can’t do. It’s all part of the show, of course. Tom Cruise is doing what folks in the business call ‘acting’, in another knuckle-whitening instalment that many would call, ‘a fucking death wish’.
Reuniting with his Jack Reacher and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise steps back into the position, now at the same age his co-star Jon Voight was in the very first film. Though the tone may have changed since director Brian De Palma’s slightly edgier entry, it’s clear that every effort is made to keep Hunt and his crew in the world Cruise has so wonderfully fortified after all this time, before some unforeseen foe threatens to tear it all apart again. This time it’s an adversary built from Ethan’s own doing. Desperate to right the wrongs made by Solomon Lane (played by Sean Harris, still so chilling since Rogue Nation, one can only assume he’s been kept on ice) it leads him to make rash decisions that could jeopardise the free world and cause both IMF and the CIA to once again, express their concern over the top agent.
A deterrent for said worries comes in the form of August Walker played by Henry Cavill; a CIA-bred bruiser that does more damage with his own guns than any sidearm can, and a moustache that can deconstruct a comic book universe. Towering over Cruise and bringing all the impact of an unattended wrecking ball, Walker feels like one of the freshest and most stand out characters the series has had and is an excellent opposing force to our hero. The backup that gets Hunt’s back up is a more polished version of Renner’s William Brandt character from the last two films, who is absent this time around (strange, the Avengers haven’t seen him, either). Another soldier with his own beliefs that continuously collide with Ethan’s, seeing him share the screen with a legendary Hollywood icon and hold his own is where a lot of the fun comes from. The rest as you can guess is from Cruise and his ever growing acts of utter lunacy.
It really must have reached a point for McQuarrie where directing Tom Cruise is like having your own life-size action figure to hurtle through sequences conjured from his wildest dreams. Just when you think your done recovering from seeing him risk life and limb with one set-piece, the McQruise duo adds something else to the mix that makes you wonder if they merely have Death on speed dial and are periodically putting him on hold. If it’s not a breathtaking HALO jump to get things going, it’s a bathroom brawl or a bike escape through Paris, or that now infamous ankle-cracking foot chase over the London rooftops that only permits you to breathe when Tom does, and you know how he likes his running. Not only has McQuarrie trained his now keen eye for action, but it feels like he’s mastered the drama that is so integral to it.
Sure, the stunts testing human ability might be why you’ve paid the admission, but the cast is the real bonus here. Besides Cavill, Mission: Impossible regulars Simon Pegg, Hunt’s only original cast member since the beginning Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson on her second run are the heart of the film and amplify the danger their characters are running into together. Incredibly, it also adds more personality to a character Cruise has played for over 22 years, culminating in what might well be one of the best chapters of this franchise yet. Don’t choose, just accept it.