As with all review-caps, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! You’ve been warned.
I’ve been a fan of the Mission: Impossible flicks from the beginning. I even like the second one, which may now make you think my review is worthless. But before you click away, I promise you, I know the second one is stupid – really stupid – but it makes me laugh. I mean, come on, how can you not love all those doves? And the midair tackle on motorcycles? And the slow-mo car chase with all the wind-blown hair? And – oh, sorry. I’m getting off the subject. The point is that the flicks have improved since that sequel, starting with M:I III, which introduced the story that Mission: Impossible – Fallout does a great job of wrapping up.
When we last left our intrepid hero Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) at the end of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the IMF had been reinstated after being shut down (for like, the millionth time), and CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) became the new Secretary. Ethan and his loyal compadres Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) – and rogue MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – managed to shut down the Syndicate, a global organization of baddies headed up by the coolly creepy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).
So as Fallout begins, Lane’s in custody and Ethan’s on the trail of some missing Russian plutonium – but the Syndicate remains, just downsized to a smaller group calling themselves The Apostles. They’re the ones after the plutonium and of course, IMF gives Ethan the mission to go kick their terrorist butts and get the three gray balls of nuclear nastiness back. But when our heroes intercept the exchange in Berlin, the Apostles show up and hold Luther at gunpoint. And of course, Ethan being the cool dude that he is, won’t let his best bud get killed – which results in the Apostles making off with the nuke balls.
Once this gets back to new CIA Director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett), she’s ready to shut the IMF down – again. But Hunley steps in and sort-of convinces her that Ethan’s still the man for the job. So she gives conditional approval for the mission to continue – the condition being that her own agent, August Walker (Henry Cavill and his mighty mustache), go along and “help.”
Cut to Paris, where our heroes travel to intercept the buyer for the nuke balls, John Lark – a lovely man who wants to set off the nukes in order to bring about world peace, because – well, he’s nuts. Lark’s there to meet the broker, the mysterious, ultra-wealthy White Widow (Vanessa Kirby – and there’s an obvious Marvel joke in there about whether she’s Black Widow’s evil twin). Ethan and Walker (I couldn’t stop saying ‘Texas Ranger’ every time somebody said his name) go into the giant nightclub party she’s throwing. But someone else is there too – Ilsa, whose reason for being there isn’t clear at first. But she shows up just in time, as things aren’t going so well in the men’s room – where Ethan and Walker are trying to get the drugged-out John Lark to sit for a facial scan, so they can make one of those awesome masks. Lark (Liang Yang) – or who they think is Lark but turns out not to be – wakes up and proceeds to wipe the floor with both of them in one of the best fight scenes ever done – seriously, it’s amazing. Then Ilsa ends up saving both of them by taking Not-Lark out.
But now the White Widow has a new deal to offer – she tells Ethan and Walker that the only way they’ll get the nuke balls is to intercept the convoy transporting Solomon Lane the next day and bust him out. Yeah, the guy they spent the entire last movie trying to capture – the guy who’s really way too focused on Ethan’s personal life to be the head of a global crime syndicate. (Sounds kinda like SPECTRE, doesn’t it? Maybe we can call it Blofeld syndrome. Anyway…) Oh, and Ilsa’s job is to kill Lane for MI6, so there’s that too.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, it gets worse – but it’s okay, because none of it really matters. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie isn’t deliberately trying to piss you off with all the ridiculously convoluted twists and turns. He’s trying to make you laugh – and trying to make you see that if you’re paying too much attention to the who’s-who and what’s-going-on-and-why, you’re concentrating on the wrong thing (or at least I believe that’s what he was doing – I mean, it’s not like I know him personally).
What you should be concentrating on is having fun. And Fallout delivers the fun in spades, thanks largely to the insane stunt work and Cruise’s hardcore, ‘I-don’t-need-no-stinking-stunt-double’ ethic. The flick is worth seeing just for the bathroom fight and for the infamous jump where Cruise busts his ankle (and still walks away). But the whole thing is just one giant rollercoaster ride – and believe me, it’s a ride you wanna get on. By the time the story reaches its final destination in the mountains of Kashmir, you’re gonna be as worn out as Ethan is (I kept expecting him to say Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon zinger of ‘I’m gettin’ too old for this s**t’ after every action sequence), but it’s a good kind of worn out. And you’ll sigh happily as Ethan finally gets to see his ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan), say their official, loving goodbyes, regroup with his BFFs and get together with Ilsa – aww.
Fallout is, at the end of the day, a decent wrap-up to the story they started years ago and still manages to come up with all new and jaw-dropping ways to do balls-to-the-wall action. It’s everything Mission: Impossible should be: a good time at the movies. You can’t ask for better than that.