Another helping of real-life excitement
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (12A)
TOM Cruise must be a film insurer’s nightmare and a source of constant grief for anyone who loves him. When the star insists on jumping off helicopters, motorcycling at high speed in city streets and hurling himself over rooftops – for real – hearts undoubtedly skip a beat.
That, of course, is the point. For every individual with a personal interest in Cruise surviving his insane stunts, there will be a million audience members open-mouthed with awe and feeling that they’ve had their money’s worth.
Mission Impossible is an action movie franchise built around the fact that, with obvious safety precautions, what we’re seeing are real stunts and not green screen fantasy. As such, the ageless Cruise and his collaborators have their own mission – to be bigger, bolder and better every single time, or else they’ve failed.
So I’m happy to report that the sixth in the instalment is, indeed, bigger and bolder, more elaborate and more exciting than anything Cruise and his team have given us before. The fact that Cruise did actually break his ankle in one daredevil leap is small potatoes. Some sequences are so spectacular they beggar belief.
Fallout feels like a reunion. There’s the Impossible Missions Force team – Cruise’s Ethan Hunt joined by loveable, bearlike computer whizz Luther (Ving Rhames) and geeky systems analyst turned field agent Benji (Simon Pegg). Then there are the women in Hunt’s life: his former wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan), last seen in MI:3, before the pair parted company to keep her from harm’s way, and the British spy and lover Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who returns from the last instalment, along with the terrorist Solomon Lane, played by one of Britain’s most dependably frightening character actors, Sean Harris.
There is always an emotional dimension to these films – loss, betrayal, revenge. But by bringing these old chums, adversaries and lovers together, star/producer Cruise and writer/director Christopher McQuarry up the ante considerably. Hunt’s defining characteristic – the fact that his concern for saving the individual is as strong as that for saving the world – now becomes the core theme. For as far as the villains are concerned, this admirable quality is also his Achilles heel.
The threat is nothing new: terrorists with their hands on some nukes. How you treat the material is what counts. New additions to the cast add to the intrigue and entertainment, notably a CIA agent shadowing Hunt’s team (Henry Cavill, on a break from Superman duties and clearly having much more fun) and The White Widow, an arms dealer, who The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby turns into a cheeky, flirtatious, amusingly unlikely villainess. Imaginative use is made of locations in London and Paris, before both drama and action go off the charts in Kashmir.
McQuarrie is the first director in the franchise to return for a second stab, after the excellent Rogue Nation. While he’s a dab hand at the action, it’s as a writer that he brings something unique to these films – after all, the man penned one of the darkest and trickiest thrillers ever made, The Usual Suspects. With the Missions he makes it harder than ever to know who’s to be trusted, who’s playing whom, who’s got the upper hand and who really ought to go home to the allotment.
In fact, the plot for Fallout might be too twisty for some. But it keeps you on your toes, with a feast of zinging oneliners to charm between the thrills. “Hope is not a strategy,” exclaims the CIA guy, on hearing Hunt’s latest plan, to which a more seasoned member of the team quips: “You must be new.”
Tom Cruise doesn’t disappoint in this latest outing as Ethan Hunt