Five instalments later and its hard to imagine an action set-piece Mission: Impossible hasnt touched. Between the iconic rope-dangle ascent in the original, Ghost Protocols Dubai tower climb and Rogue Nations cling to an aeroplane – you might be wondering what Tom Cruise has left to conquer.
Surprisingly, sixth outing Fallout makes it feel like hes just getting started. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Mission: Impossible doubles down on the best attributes the franchise has to offer – zipping from one breathtaking action sequence to the next with punctures of warm-hearted silliness from its ever-appealing ensemble.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie who helmed 2015s Rogue Nation, this follow-up is the first time a Mission: Impossible flick feels like a sequel. The plot picks up in the aftermath of disbanded criminal network the Syndicate, who, without the leadership of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), have morphed into a more dangerous group of doomsday operatives called the Apostle.
This group has hooked up with an anonymous arms dealer called John Lark, who believes humanity can only attain peace after a bout of intense suffering. His weapon of choice? Nuclear bombs powerful enough to wipe the slate and start anew.
Larks anonymity however starts to infect paranoia into the CIA and IMF, with the former assigning dashing August Walker (Henry Cavill) to join Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in tracking him down.
The plot is serviceable and offers some nice twists throughout, but the film unashamedly knows audiences arent locked in for narrative intelligence. While fellow action hero franchises like James Bond have yearned to add more meaningful weight in recent outings, Mission: Impossibles refusal to mature is its most endearing quality – investing energy into making the cast as appealing and the action as jaw-dropping as it possibly can.
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Undoubtedly the driving force behind these incredible sequences is Tom Cruise, who has carved a name for himself as a bastion for original stunts over CGI special effects. Fallout is his strongest case yet – diving between motorbike chases in Pariss winding streets, a bathroom fight sequence which is like a slapstick reimagining of The Raid, and a helicopter dogfight easily among the franchises best.
Theres an appreciation of the locations and stunt-work in McQuarries direction too which sets it apart. Wide shots of vistas and landmarks are often lingered upon longer than usual, making sequences like Cruises hop between London rooftops (causing his broken ankle) to feel like herculean sprints across landscapes.
A reoccuring theme throughout Fallout is deciding between the lives of the few over the many, with action sequences often taking a heavy-handed approach in bundling moral choices into the mix. It works in driving tension the first time it happens, but by the third or fourth, it becomes more like an irritating on-screen prompt flashing a human decency wheel.
Mission: Impossible is Cruises shining moment, but the supporting cast continue to be a hoot. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames bring the one-liners, while Rebecca Ferguson also returns, albeit in a less memorable capacity, as formidable agent Isla. New addition Vanessa Kirby, fresh from The Crown, makes a big impact with relatively little screen-time. Cavill meanwhile is wisely used as a leaner counterweight to aging Cruise, knowing the actors strengths shine when hes saying nothing at all.
In a summer of forgettable blockbusters, Mission: Impossible Fallout is a welcome reminder of the unbeatable thrills found in old fashioned methods. It never drifts from the formula youd expect, but when the end product is this gleefully entertaining and riotously action-packed, youll be hoping Tom Cruise has many more running sequences left in the tank. This years summer smash? You bet.
Mission: Impossible Fallout is released in UK cinemas on 25 July.