The sixth installment in one of the longest running and successful franchises of the current century is all set to take the worldwide box office by storm, at least in its first week, and satiate fans who have been waiting for the film ever since 2015’s ‘Rogue Nation’ left room for an extended arc and ‘Fallout’ was announced. Without a shred of doubt, ‘Fallout’ remains one of the most hyped and awaited movies of the summer, and for right reason. One of them, apart from the series’ eccentric action star Tom Cruise returning to do what he does best, are the impressive set pieces and stunt sequences that the two trailers set up extraordinarily well without revealing too much, just enough to leave you wanting more. Fortunately enough, ‘Fallout’ has a plenty of them, and in quick succession, even trying to raise the bar this time around, and that is one of the film’s many strengths. It then doesn’t come across as a surprise that the man daring it out at the centre of these stunts, Cruise himself, is present in virtually every frame of the film, and has majority of the screen time dedicated to, and plot development directly related to him, compared to say ‘Ghost Protocol’ where the supporting characters too had strong defining and shining moments.
So, does the film live up to its hype? The answer is an unequivocal and resounding YES. Tom Cruise continues his winning spree here, certain to have found an everlasting talisman of youth that keeps the man going, enviably so. Sure, there are problems with plot progression here and there, but director Christopher McQuarrie keeps the twists, fights and action set pieces coming at a pace faster than you care to admit, thereby commanding your attention, even though the plot might not fully make sense to the staunch viewer in you. The winning bout here, thus, is that you are invested in the leading man’s charm and persona and his camaraderie and shortcomings, a character that Cruise owns by now and yet, never shies away from showing an added dimension to it. The stunts too, are bigger, better, more thrilling and definitely a step up from ‘Rogue Nation’, although never quite reaching the dizzying heights of the Burj Khalifa sequence from ‘Ghost Protocol’, quite literally, a moment so iconic, it instantly became the selling point of the film and a franchise redefining moment.
Among the series, ‘Fallout’ lies somewhere between the energy of ‘Ghost Protocol’ and ‘MI:III’, the sobriety and maturity of ‘Rogue Nation’, and the balance of the original Mission Impossible. One would not sound too farfetched in saying that McQuarrie tries picking up what worked for every film, and tries to build upon those. The result is partly convincing, since the plot convolutions begin showing up at certain points, and always thrilling and entertaining, if not anything else.
In ‘Fallout’, Ethan Hunt and his team of agents race against time to recover three plutonium cores, intended to be used to power three portable nuclear bombs by the Apostles, a terrorist group headed by John Lark, a shadow figure. The apostles are soon revealed to be related to the Syndicate headed by Solomon Lane in the earlier film. As a mission goes awry, the CIA gets involved and agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) tags along with Hunt and his team to make sure things happen their way, even though he has some intentions of his own. The cat and mouse chase runs from one city to another, and from one thrilling set piece to the next, as Solomon Lane is broken out of prison and the team must now put an end to his schemes for good.
What’s Good: While a few critics were quick to dismiss MI:II as another Tom Cruise vanity project, it was J.J. Abrams, also one of the series’ current producers, who began course correction through MI:III, also giving us one of the most memorable villains of the franchise in the process. However, it was ‘Ghost Protocol’ that proved to be a turning point, essentially reinvigorating the franchise, fusing it with new life. The makers have since held on to that nerve, and the actions and stunts are principally the strongest suit of MI: Fallout. It always helps that they are placed evenly through the film, ably carried on his shoulders by Cruise. The stunts keep getting better, riskier, and at some points frankly ridiculous as well with every instalment, and that keeps the audience coming back for more. It is like the MI franchise found a profitable way to remain relevant in an era of spy and action films.
All the action, including a brutal fist fight in a toilet, a HALO jump, and a few motorbike chases here and there are tastefully done, never to the point of overindulgence. However, what takes the cake AND the bakery is an elaborate, relentless and dazzling final sequence involving two helicopters and a dangling Mr. Cruise. The sequence is fully shot with IMAX cameras and is visually a treat to watch. Add to it some gasps, a pumping score in the background, a countdown and the regular final confrontation. What you get is a nerve-wracking final 30 minutes that will keep you at the edge of your seat like no recent movie has.
The MI franchise has always been technically very sound, and ‘Fallout’ doesn’t disappoint in that regard either. One of the chases through the alleyways and traffic lanes of Paris is genuinely well shot and edited in a manner that keeps the thrill flowing.
Another noteworthy quality of the film is that it picks up earlier films’ attempts to humanise and portray Hunt on a personal, more vulnerable level, and here it succeeds. The small quip where Hunt is described as the guy fighting for a million lives but never regarding even one life as insignificant either is well played out and establishes more of Hunt as a character.
What also works in the film’s favour are the supporting cast members and their repartee, especially the one between the ever endearing Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames). Sean Harris as Solomon Lane is unsettling and eerie as ever, but is given precious little to do. Rebecca Ferguson, on the other hand has clearly been one of the best on screen companions for Cruise.
What’s Not: As elaborate and meticulous as the set pieces might be, there is no denying that the plot seems weak at points, and too convenient at others. The major twists are really not hard to guess, and the plot thereby serves as a vessel that takes you from one elaborately staged stunt to another, rather than a journey with rewarding stops and a culmination that easily outshines all, and genuinely feels well earned. Another qualm, perhaps a personal one, is that I felt Henry Cavill was completely underutilised, far from the potential wherein the ‘Man of Steel’ actor would have kicked some serious a**, and proved a worthy contender for Ethan Hunt. It builds and builds, until it dissipates into a laugh or the focus completely shifts to Cruise.
Final Verdict: Fans of the series are probably going to be flocking to the theatres anyway, but for non-fans, the verdict says that you ought to catch this film at possibly the largest IMAX screen you can. The final thirty minutes alone are worth the price of admission to the cinema. Minor shortcomings aside, as with the other films of the series, ‘Fallout’ stands out on its own, working on the strengths of previous installments and opening up new possibilities and directions for the franchise to expand in, while keeping the core of what makes an MI movie work, intact. If Mr. Cruise can continue having that elixir of youth and upping the ante in every subsequent installment, this beloved series is not going anywhere. Mission Impossible 7, 8, 9, 10; keep ‘em coming!