There’s a moment in Mission: Impossible – Fallout when Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is being chased by police through the streets of Paris on a motorcycle. He eventually makes it to the famous Arc de Triomphe roundabout where he’s forced to enter to elude authorities. He’s without a helmet and swerving through oncoming traffic with immaculate precision. It is jaw-dropping, breathtaking and any other adjective you can think of.
It’s one of many scenes in Fallout, the sixth entry in the Mission franchise, that instantly became the best action scene from any movie this year. And Cruise did his own stunts in all of them.
He does all of them because he’s A: insane and B: willing to do anything to entertain an audience. It’s what drives him. And he’s outdone himself this time because Fallout is without question, the best action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road.
A unique aspect to the Mission franchise is that it’s been a “One Director’s Vision” concept. In each of the first five films, you could see that director’s personal stamp on the film for better (Brad Bird with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and for worse (John Woo with Mission: Impossible II).
But in Fallout, director Christopher McQuarrie returns to continue the story he started in Rogue Nation and gives the franchise something it hasn’t had before: continuity.
After successfully capturing Solomon Lane, leader of the terrorist organization known as The Syndicate, in Rogue Nation, Hunt and his team face a new threat called The Apostles. They are looking to acquire plutonium for nuclear bombs and after a botched mission by Hunt and his team allow the Apostles to obtain the plutonium, Hunt must find them and take down their mysterious leader who goes by the alias, John Lark. His failure to secure the plutonium results in him having to work with an unknown agent, August Walker (Henry Cavill), whose objective is to ensure the plutonium is recovered at any cost.
Fallout is a true sequel to Rogue Nation. It emphasizes the cost of human life and Hunt’s relationship to the people he cares about more than any other Mission movie. He saves Luther’s (Ving Rhames) life at the beginning of the film, but it results in the loss of the plutonium. He has nightmares about Julia (Michelle Monaghan), the love of his life who he must distance himself from in order to protect her.
On more than one occasion, he has to tell Benji (Simon Pegg) that he won’t let anything happen to him and then of course there’s Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), the mysterious woman who asked him to go away with her and leave behind a world of spying and fighting.
Hunt can’t lose even a single life because he knows what kind of burden and regret it will leave on him. This extra wrinkle makes Fallout the most personal Mission since the first and third entries in the series. It adds more weight to the story.
It also makes the story a little more convoluted with numerous twists, turns and double-crosses. It can even be slightly confusing at times which is something you never want to see in a Mission movie.
But that weight is necessary because whereas previous Missions seem to worry more about getting Hunt to the next set piece, Fallout focuses on those storylines from previous entries and builds upon them.
Of course, these movies are essentially half macguffins and half Cruise performing death-defying stunts and you know what, I don’t care. The man is in his mid-50s and shows no signs of slowing down.
Cruise jumps out of an airplane at 25,000 feet, has a brutal fight in a bathroom, jumps across buildings and runs along rooftops like he’s Batman and hangs from a helicopter that he’ll eventually commandeer to chase down another helicopter. And it’s all real (For the most part).
In a summer where we’ve gotten not one but two mediocre Dwayne Johnson movies (Rampage, Skyscraper), a ludicrous Jurassic World sequel and a forgettable Star Wars movie, you can still rely on Cruise to deliver.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is why we go to the movies. For the spectacle, the exhilaration and the utter desire to see it again almost immediately.