Saturday, 28 July 2018

Review: Mission Impossible Fallout

Mission Impossible: Fallout (2D / SPOILERS)
Cert: 12A / 147 mins / Dir. Christopher McQuarrie / Trailer

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assess whether Henry Cavill's non-plot-specific facial hair as a new supporting character in the sixth film of an ongoing franchise was really worth making a laughing-stock of history's most iconic superhero*1. Oh, you didn't think I'd forget, did you Paramount? Hahaha mate, nobody's forgotten

Anyway, that's all water under the Parisian catacombs now as Tom Cruise's more 'sensible' action-vehicle, Mission: Impossible, roars back into our cinemas for another globe-trotting installment. Old faces return and new ones are thrown into the mix as the stakes are raised and Ethan Hunt has to save the world from twin-nuclear armageddon*2 at the hands of a crazed messianic terrorist.

And as jaded/cynical as I've become with the M:I franchise, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a good time with Fallout. On both writing and directing duties, Christopher McQuarrie wears his cinematic heart on his sleeve with nods to other classic movies*3, as well as tying in details from the previous Missions: Impossibles. Despite a massive reference to the first*4 movie in the series (presumably a character-downpayment on future episodes), this is a recipe for an action-cake with espionage-icing, rather than the other way around. Although to be fair, that's been the case since John Woo's sequel in 2000, anyway.

Mission Impossible: Fallout is the kind of film where every twist, turn and sleight-of-hand are telegraphed at least five minutes in advance. The kind of film where spies who furtively meet in Paris are required to do so at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The kind of film where firearms (small and massive alike) have absolutely no recoil, and high speed vehicle crashes are walked away from with a limp which disappears by the next scene. The kind of film where not only is there a ticking-countdown timer ending, but Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames literally mansplain this to their fellow secret-agent, Rebecca Ferguson. The kind of film where, five minutes later, Pegg explains it again. The kind of film where, two minutes later, Rhames feels the need to vocalise to everyone around him that the countdown has now begun (while we're looking at the timer every third shot). The kind of film where the timer becomes a heavy handed metaphor for the entire screenplay.

But it's still fun. Great fun.

Although they're bringing little new to either the series or their own CVs, the cast are on reliably solid form here. They're who you expect them to be, and they're good at that, at least. Cinematographer Rob Hardy ensures Fallout is beautifully shot, although it's arguably far too glossy for its own good. The recurring lensflare and absolute lack of grit serves to remind the audience that they're on a very expensive and ultimately safe ride. Elsewhere, Lorne Balfe's powerful score drops in just the right amount of the classic signature tune, and keeps the action rolling forward.

And Paramount have done that thing where they make a sixth Mission: Impossible movie, and in this one they even have Ethan Hunt mention the UK's foreign intelligence service MI-6, and yet they don't just call it 'MI:6 Fallout'. I'm old enough to remember the Mission: Impossible II cinema foyer-stands which branded it 'MI-2000' (although I never saw this on anything else*5). Perhaps Ian Paramount thinks he had his fingers burnt with that one..?

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Let's be honest here, the last three Mission: Impossible films.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
For sheer, bloody-minded entertainment value alone, yes it is.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
As much as I enjoyed Fallout, I think it'll lose a lot on the journey to the small screen.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not even the best Mission: Impossible movie.

That said, I do seem to keep going into these not expecting very much, then thoroughly enjoying the flick, then apparently forgetting how much I enjoyed it by the time the next one comes out.

And credit where it's due, Henry Cavill is far, far better here than in that other 60s TV throwback

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Given the glowing buzz I'm currently hearing and my own reservations, that's a possibility.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Cartoon Dengar is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And feel free to discuss among yourselves of course, but the answer is no. No, it wasn't worth that. In fact, while the style itself is the bane of makeup technicians and continuity advisers the world over, Cavill's facial-stubble changes length and density throughout Fallout anyway, often during single scenes. So now two characters look inherently ridiculous because of one moustache. Well played, Paramount… [ BACK ]

*2 "Hey Chris, that idea you had about the nuclear bomb at the end of the film? I watched that American Assassin at the weekend and they had one of them in that."
"…well Terry, we'll fucking well have TWO nuclear bombs then, won't we? Haha! TWO! HAHAHAHA!"
"But you've written in two timed-bombs within about 100 feet of each other. Surely the first one will just set of the second anyway? And why not just make one big one which would have the same effect?
"…fuck off, Terry." [ BACK ]

*3 Although I'm fully aware that this could just be how my brain works, Fallout opens with a dream-sequence which dares the audience not to think of Sarah Connor's nightmare in Terminator 2. We then move onto what is basically Ozymandias' scheme from the movie-version of Watchmen, facilitated by the stolen plutonium cat-and-mouse from Back To The Future. And if not for the short release-date differential, I'd swear that Ethan grinding the truck to a halt between two walls was a quick nod to the Corellia-chase in Solo. Hell, at one point Ethan's lying in a bed at a medical centre as he looks weakly up at Ilsa and pleads "No, I'm sorry…", and I thought Chris McQuarrie was going to bring us a tension-breaking homage to Shaun of the Dead[ BACK ]

*4 best [ BACK ]

*5 Seriously though, do I have False Memory Syndrome on this one? I swear to god that the promo-displays in Dreamland Cinema in Margate said "MI-2000", because the Millennium was still a bandwagon thing even six months into the year. And now I can't seem to find any online record of this happening. Did I make this up because I have some sort of pathological need for tacky marketing campaigns which date incredibly badly? [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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