“YOU CAN’T FIGHT THE FRICTION!!!” These were the memorable lines of one of the songs used for the teaser trailer. For many film goers, this signifies an improvement over the previous films in the franchise, and in many ways, it does actually deliver on that promise. To them it was a direct reminder of things to come.
If you haven’t heard already (or have been living under a rock this entire time), Mission Impossible Fallout is the 6th instalment in the Mission Impossible franchise. Much like the previous works, Fallout expands upon the whole team-based spy fiction subgenre that had been brought to fruition ever since its 1st outing. Unlike the James Bond films, Mission Impossible has always been about teamwork in the field, rather than dressing up in suave outfits and seducing chicks on various solo missions. Ethan Hunt is almost always going to be cooperating with his group of highly trained IMF agents, rather than Bond who just barges into a room all by himself to dish out some collateral damage. That already distinguishes it from its more successful parent franchise. Sorry Mission Impossible, you’re still a young lad.
Now I’m not going to touch upon the characters or the story as much like I do in most movie reviews I’ve written. Why? Because at this point, expectations regarding these have already been established by the previous installments. If you’ve seen Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, then your standards for this have pretty much been set in stone. The characters are the same, the story structure and flow is fairly similar, and the humor is just as to be expected of a Mission Impossible film. There’s nothing too much in each installment that makes them heavily stand out from one another (except perhaps the earlier titles). You have Benji, a Simon Pegg stereotype. Luther, a Ving Rhames stereotype. And Ilsa, a typical badass chick stereotype. And there’s M… I mean Alan Hanley, who is basically Adam Baldwin being Adam Baldwin.
The best element of these works is always the action. And surprisingly, I found the action set pieces this time around to be rather dry. We start off with an uninspired shootout in an underpass, which reminded me heavily of the film Ronin. Then we move on to a rather semi-brutal brawl in a bathroom in Paris, which got my adrenaline flowing slightly but felt too much like a watered-down version of that one scene from the opening of Casino Royale (which despite its pg-13 rating, managed to be so much more stomach churning). Then there’s a generic car chase, followed up by another generic chase, this time on foot. The only standout sequence here was a helicopter battle between Hunt and one of the antagonists. That’s all. Out of multiple action sequences throughout the film, only one stood out to me. And even then, it’s nothing compared to the Burj Khalifa sequence from Ghost Protocol, or the opera house attack in Rogue Nation.
But still, I gotta give credit to Tom Cruise for doing all those stunts himself. This guy doesn’t need a stunt double to do the job, he can just do it all himself. Running across the rooftops in London, chasing down baddies in a luxurious vehicle, sky diving at an altitude of over 12,000 feet? It’s most likely all done by Cruise himself in real time. And honestly, I’m impressed; the guys in his 50s and is still able to perform feats any ordinary human being would be hesitant to join in. It’s great too; saves a lot of cold hard-earned cash in the end. There’s also more footage of Tom Cruise running from one place to the next in this film. It’s gotten to the point where it’s become some sort of a meme. Man, the rumours are all true, this guy never skips leg day.
Now the biggest improvement to this film is its use of tension. Mission Impossible 3 is my all-time favourite in the franchise thus far because of how high the stakes were. In that film, Ethan was on the verge of death, and you can feel how vulnerable he is as a character. The concept of the main character having a literal bomb shoved into his skull, with the main villain threatening to detonate it whenever he wants to, does wonders in showing that not even the main lead is safe. No one could tell whether he’d live to see another day or perish in the process. It’s also what pissed me off about the latter two movies. Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation both suffered from the notion that there was practically no tension present at all. At no point did you ever think any of these characters were going to get injured or die at all, and it more felt like it was playing it safe than anything else. Fallout thankfully, brought back some of the stakes. I mean the whole point of this sequel is that Hunt royally effed up by sparing the life of Solomon Lane, the antagonist from the previous film. Now him and his Syndicate group are plotting to launch nukes on various territories from across the globe as part of their terrorist campaign. Awesome, now various nations from across the globe are at stake if Hunt and co ends up failing the mission. And I know you’re all going to say how its likely that no nukes are gonna be launched, but in an era where Infinity War exists and is a box office maniac, we’d never know.
But alas, the film still plays it safe in many areas. It still feels too familiar to the previous three titles in places and there’s not much to dig out of its storyline. You would have thought that by introducing nukes, we’d get some political strife of some sort? Nope, nada. This ain’t Winter Soldier bros. Plus Solomon Lane ends up being the generic baddie that was established in the previous film. There’s no sense of personality or depth to his character at all, and you could easily confuse him for a typical Bond villain.
Also, the biggest problem in this film is that there are like a dozen or so fake outs. Oh, someone there just detonated a nuke! Whoops, fake out, turns out it was all just a trick! Oh no, somebody just killed a major character! Haha fooled you, it turns out he was decoy! Oh no, Superman just ripped Goku’s head clean off! Ha fooled you again, it was Vegeta in disguise! Whatever level of tension that had been established was abruptly removed because of these fake outs. I would be okay with it if it were done once or twice, but over 5 times? Now that’s just too excessive. A bad guy getting unmasked would feel like your average Scooby Doo episode. Might as well just call this film, Mission Impossible Fake out instead. It’s a shame though, because most of the stakes that were established were soon outright removed because of the idea that audiences realize they’re constantly being tricked every now and then. Tone down the trolling for the next title, jeez.
Overall Mission Impossible Fallout is a semi-passable action flick that will give you a boost to your adrenaline occasionally. It may not be as exhilarating or as innovative as action flicks such as Mad Max Fury Road or The Raid, but you’ll still be able to have a blast watching it at the theatres. It’s a watchable one-timer as a result. However, it highly pales in comparison to the third Mission Impossible film, which still retains its place on the throne in my opinion of course (most people will instantly disagree with me on this statement). So, thank you, JJ Abrams, for creating a spy flick that’s actually memorable and tense, unlike the other instalments in the franchise. But seriously bro, tone it down a bit with the lens flare, you’re starting to make Michael Bay look like Alfred Hitchcock in comparison.
Also, what’s with playing the theme song over clips from the very movie at the beginning and before the end credits? I mean sure it sounds catchy and all, but it’s Mission Impossible not Hawaii Five-0. You don’t have to do the same thing you did in the intro sequence for the end credits too. Though I’ll admit the song is pretty much an ear worm at this point. Dun dun da da dun dun da da dun dun da da dun dun da da. Dunana, dunana, dunana, dada. Dunanaaa, dunanaaa, dunanaaa dana. Danaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Okay I’ll see myself out…
Final verdict: 6/10