Sunday, August 05, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Seriously, everyone else at eFilmCritic - it's on me to review this? You all do see that I've been kind of busy in Montreal, right? Sheesh!

Heck, I'd barely gotten back to my apartment from Quebec when I turned around to head back to the South Station area so I could see it on the wide Icon-X screen in the Seaport, and though that may not be ideal - I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the bus and I think all the poutine I ate up there waited until I had crossed the border to form a big rock in my stomach. But, still, a lot of fun.

For all that continuity worked out well here, though, I'd still like Mission: Impossible to go back to the original arc of the series, where they brought in guys with really distinctive styles in Brian De Palma and John Woo, before it sort of settled at Skydance and Bad Robot and hiring folks like J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird who, though talented, are each kind of Just A Guy compared to those two (I don't know if McQuarrie is still Just A Guy, but he kind of was before Rogue Nation). Find someone great, like Kathryn Bigelow or Johnnie To or Kim Ji-woon or Takashi Miike or David Fincher, guys who can use Tom Cruise and a bunch of Paramount's money to make a great big thing that's clearly part of their filmography, rather than getting a boost from doing another entry in a series.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 5 August 2018 in Showcase Icon The Seaport #6 (first-run, Icon-X DCP)

As much as Mission: Impossible has been one of the most reliable action-movie franchises of the past twenty years, that reliability has arguably come at the cost of the distinctive voices Brian De Palma and John Woo brought to the series - J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and Christopher McQuarrie are all talented guys, but it's fair to suggest that they didn't bring the sort of individual stamp to a movie that De Palma and Woo did, at least at that point in their careers, and bringing McQuarrie back seems like the least adventurous choice. And yet, that continuity at times seems like the biggest shift in direction the series in years, giving it an extra zing to a movie that already boasts some of the most astounding action sequences of the year.

It's been a couple of years since the events of Rogue Nation, but the IMF thwarting the plans of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and capturing him has not simply decapitated his organization; "The Syndicate" is now "The Apostles", but still aimed at bringing about global anarchy. Their new plan involves nukes built by anti-religious crusader Nils Debruuk (Kristoffer Joner). After a mission by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to recover a box of missing plutonium goes awry with the reappearance of sometime-ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the CIA insists on adding their own muscle, August Walker (Henry Cavill) to Hunt's team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) as they try to retrieve it from broker "White Widow" (Vanessa Kirby) - who has her own conditions for arranging the transfer that put Hunt in quite a spot.

There's big advantages to not starting from zero, and while McQuarrie is good about establishing what someone seeing their first M:I movie needs to know, there's something great about not having to spend time making things personal for Hunt the way that the other movies often do - in fact McQuarrie kind of uses the fact that there is bad blood between Lane and Hunt as something that can simmer in the background while pushing something much more basic forward: There's a fundamental philosophical difference between Hunt, who can't bear to sacrifice even one person for a clearly-defined greater good, and the Apostles, whose plans are apocalyptic but vague (basic "tear it down to start anew" stuff) with personal revenge being a bonus. McQuarrie does a nice job of attacking this directly, tilting the audience's sympathies toward Hunt at the personal level while still presenting how tempting pragmatism can be.

Full review at EFC.

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