As Hollywood’s triple-A action franchises get long in the tooth and become complex, serialized stories, Mission: Impossible remains immune. This isn’t a Marvel movie, there’s no required reading. Like the ‘60s TV show few people remember, the Tom Cruise vehicles are episodic blockbusters of the highest order, and the latest entry, Mission Impossible — Fallout, is simply the most thrilling one yet.
These aren’t just movies, either. They’re rollercoasters. You get on, get tossed left and right, shout a lot, and get out drunk off adrenaline. It’s what Hollywood action movies should do, and Mission: Impossible does it best.
But don’t mistake rollercoaster metaphors as code for “dumb.” Like any good ride worth lining up in the sun for, there’s purpose to each dip and weave. There’s sophistication in the structure. With scant few moments of long-winded exposition in between the mind-melting wild shit, Mission: Impossible — Fallout is a tight, dense thrill ride powerful enough to leave anyone breathless.
Out July 26, Mission: Impossible — Fallout is the sixth film in the franchise, and the second to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie (after 2015’s Rogue Nation). Once again, Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, an agent of the reinstated Impossible Missions Force (yes, seriously) who makes a “bad” call during a mission to retrieve some stolen plutonium. Now, he’s forced to team up with August Walker, a brawny and shady CIA assassin (Henry Cavill rocking that mythical mustache) and break out the global terrorist he put away in Rogue Nation, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).
Along for the ride is a solid supporting cast that includes Angela Bassett and Vanessa Kirby (a stunning revelation as mysterious black market dealer White Widow), and returning faves like Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson, who debuted in Rogue Nation as the elusive Ilsa Faust.
Cruise has proven time and time again why he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest movie stars. But Fallout is a bigger showcase for McQuarrie, whose IMDB was made up of dadcore stuff like 2009’s Valkyrie and 2012’s Jack Reacher before 2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (a prestige dad movie if there is such a thing). With Fallout, McQuarrie achieves auteur status as he proves his ability to tune the pace of your heartbeat like music.
That right there is the real appeal of Mission: Impossible. While Marvel fans are invested in the friendship of the Avengers, or Fast & Furious with its Torretto family, no one watching Impossible gives a damn about Ethan Hunt’s happiness. Is he married to Michelle Monaghan? He’s not? OK. Now see him ram a helicopter into a mountain and climb out of the wreckage. That’s what your $12.50 plus tax is paying for, not Simon Pegg’s reliably good comedic timing.
Is Mission: Impossible — Fallout perfect? No, but it is close. There are a few moments when the story’s weakest foundations wobble, and the plot outright halts to a stop (possibly to ensure its audience hasn’t passed out). And its emotional center — that Ethan chose to save his pal Luther rather than get the plutonium at the beginning of the movie — is vastly undercooked.
But those are forgivable sins because you’re not left asking any questions after watching this Mission: Impossible — or any of them. You just remember how freaking close to death Tom Cruise almost was just now.
To quote Angela Bassett’s slick new CIA Director Erica Sloane in the film, “That’s the job.”
Mission: Impossible — Fallout hits theaters July 26.