Mission: Impossible – Fallout

In his prediction of how the dominoes should be placed to fall exactly where he needs them in order to achieve his goal, Ethan Hunt is the best, the success rate of his supposedly impossible missions unparalleled, his core team intact after more than twenty years in the game despite the constant threat of death and disavowal; beyond what is in his direct control, however, is another matter.

The capture of Syndicate leader Solomon Lane having amplified rather than curtailed their global activities, a new terrorist group called the Apostles has splintered off, led by an unidentified individual known as John Lark. Having seized three plutonium cores and preparing to weaponise them with the aid of a fringe theorist nuclear expert, Ethan gathers his teammates Benji Dunn and Luther Stickell to deal with the unintended consequences of their previous mission.

The sixth film in the series, the events of Mission: Impossible – Fallout follow directly from those of Rogue Nation, the first time the narratives have been so strongly linked together and the shortest length of time between episodes, only three years, with the core cast of Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames – the only performer other than Cruise to have appeared in every film – joined by Rogue Nation players Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin.

Also returning is writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, the first person to direct two Mission: Impossible films, yet Fallout is not a repeat of the previous adventure; from the opening scene, where Rogue Nation began with an astonishing action sequence, here the pre-credit teaser offers instead a different approach to achieving the goal “by any means at your disposal.”

Though the sleight-of-hand will likely be obvious to anyone familiar with the seven seasons of the original show and the preceding five films it sets a precedent which continues through the film that the challenge will be predominantly intellectual a spy thriller fuelled by bluff, double bluff and the possibility of betrayal.

The Impossible Missions Force and their secretary Alan Hunley (Baldwin) under the scrutiny of disapproving CIA director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), she has pressed them to accept Special Activities Division agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) on the team to ensure the return of the plutonium; his approach described as a hammer to the scalpel of the IMF, their incompatible approaches immediately causing friction between Ethan and his unwanted shadow.

That is not to say that there are not sequences to rival any which have gone before as the team travels from Berlin to Paris to London, but for the most part the action keeps to the ground, an extended motorbike chase around les rues de Paris, the combat close-quarters and defined by a series of knife-fights rather than more outlandish gadgets.

Cavill playing against type, he was more likeable as an agent of UNCLE than the Central Intelligence Agency, Walker’s hostile attitude and presumptuous actions unbecoming considering he is supposed to be a professional agent, though the initial loss of the plutonium through a moment of foolish inattention indicates that perhaps standards are slipping within the IMF.

Hunt’s team together for so long that they have become friends, that is both a liability and a strength, his knowledge of their ability and his trust in their skills balanced against Lane’s ability to use them as pawns against him and to anticipate his behaviour, the situation further complicated by the reappearance of Ferguson as former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust with her own agenda which may not run parallel with the stated mission.

The title carrying multiple connotations, the threat of nuclear contamination, the consequences of previous assignments, successful and failed, the faltering relationship between the rival agencies fighting for dominance or simply the number of people who fall out of helicopters which then also fall out of the sky, with not a wasted moment in two and a half hours the IMF team once again make every second count.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is currently on general release and also screening in IMAX 3D



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