“Mission: Impossible” is a rare franchise that gets better with age. The trilogy reboot during this decade easily surpasses the previous three. The big, bold and breathtaking 'Ghost Protocol' and impossibly thrilling 'Rogue Nation' are now topped with 'Fallout.'
While each “Mission Impossible” is typically a standalone movie, 'Fallout' is a fallout of 'Rogue Nation.' Villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) might have been captured and his Syndicate organization got dismantled, but his network isn't totally obliterated. His associates have formed Apostles and proceeded with his mission of a new world order; disrupting government structures and creating anarchy through sabotage, strategic assassinations and mass-annihilation.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise; "Edge of Tomorrow," "Oblivion," "Jack Reacher") failed a mission in Belfast because he refused to sacrifice his team, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Plutonium canisters are now in the hands of the bad guys, which will be used for nuclear bombs. The CIA now gets involved, to the dismay of the secretary of IMF, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Head Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett, “Black Panther”) assigns an agent, August Walker (Henry Cavill, “ Justice League,” "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice", “The Man from U.N.C.L.E."), to accompany the IMF team to recover the canisters.
To say that things are not as straightforward is an understatement. There's arms dealer White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) tangled in the web and she may or may not be what she seems to be. British operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, “The Greatest Showman”) shows up, and like in 'Rogue Nation,' her intention and allegiance is not always clear. Even the CIA itself is fractured and there may be an enemy within.
Layers of twists and turns have always been the hallmark of the “Mission: Impossible” series and it's something that distinguishes the series from generic action movies. This, and Cruise himself. He may just be a superspy himself, defying age and limits of the human body. He continually performs death-defying feats with incredible audacity, vitality and velocity.
After scaling the Burj Khalifa and clinging to the side of an airplane in past movies, he thrusts into a brutal brawl, skydives in a lightning storm, rides a motorcycle sans helmet against Paris traffic, sprints across London rooftops, leaps between buildings, climbs up a rope tied to flying helicopter and free falls onto its cargo, takes control of the cockpit and engages in a heli pursuit in Khasmir, barrels down inside the heli dangling from the mountaintop, and scales a rock face to get to a detonator. See it in 3-D if you can.
Close-ups of Cruise doing daredevil acts and clear sweeping panorama make the scenes suspenseful and breathtaking to watch. Christopher McQuarrie ("The Tourist"), the only director invited back a second time in the series, films the scenes with deft direction and precise execution.
'Fallout' has multiple crosses, switcheroos, surprises, old-fashioned stunts, relentless pace and total momentum. It also manages to touch into Ethan's personal backstory and internal sacrifice he's made. The personal sacrifice is what enables Ethan Hunt to continue to do what he does. At this point in his life, his relationship with his ghost of a wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan, “Source Code”) is in a good place and he may finally be ready to move on.
“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is a breathless blast of honest-to-goodness action and a visceral treat for thrill seekers.