Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

dfn_mission_impossible_fallout_poster-300Of all the crunchy, satisfying bits that make up Mission: Impossible – Fallout, perhaps the most impressive to me is that Tom Cruise looks to be the same size as Henry Cavill.

In real life, Cavill is six inches taller. Through sheer determination — and the careful staging by director Christopher McQuarrie — what could have been a giant distraction instead becomes a footnote, which is but a tiny reflection upon the production as a whole, like a teardrop on a racing motorcycle.

And if you thought Cruise was impressive racing a motorcycle through and around vehicles on the open highway in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, wait ’till you see him in the new thriller, racing through the streets of Paris at breakneck speed, in and around vehicles, pedestrians, cafes, and treasured national monuments. Yet as tempting as it is to simply dwell on all the delightful bits and pieces of the movie, McQuarrie’s ability as a director to make it cohesive and to make it fly — sometimes literally — is the true marvel.

It’s not that the film is without plot holes or outrageous moments when the natural laws of time, space and gravity are ignored and/or minimized. Instead, it’s because those moments stick out due to their relative rare appearance, like a spattering of dust on a brand new windshield.

Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, still a freelancer contracted by the Impossible Mission Force to do their dirty work. The entire plot is a classic MacGuffin, constructed by writer/director McQuarrie so that Ethan Hunt may travel the world and see all the sights at no expense.

What matters more than the plot are the players, which this time include Ethan’s faithful longtime cohorts Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), as well as former colleagues Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Also returning is the evil Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), who is a superb villain. A new teammate, August Walker (Henry Cavill), is foisted upon the mod squad by the bureaucratic Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett). A mysterious woman known as White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), whose loyalties are not clear, also plays a key role.

The comically complicated plot allows for extended action sequences to be set in a whirl of locations worldwide, and it is all, in a word, dazzling. The actors bolster the frame of the picture, so that it always feels steady and sure under the command of McQuarrie, who made his directorial debut with Way of the Gun in 2000 and then waited 12 years before making his sophomore feature.

Jack Reacher showed that McQuarrie knew what he was doing in the director’s chair, and he expanded his skill set greatly with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. His new effort still features sharp dialogue and diabolical twists, while building his characters more through action than anything else.

It makes for a marvelous concoction and Mission: Impossible – Fallout flies by. Like a spectacular fireworks display, I never wanted it to end.

The film opens in theaters throughout Dallas and Fort Worth on Friday, July 26.