Leave it to Tom Cruise to bring back the ‘true’ summer blockbuster. You remember, the kind of film that oozes with fun and makes a lot of money for no good reason. As a kid, I couldn’t wait for these movies to come out as it meant I wouldn’t be outside in the Texas heat. To this day, I can remember sitting in the theater to watch “Batman (1989)” or even “Terminator 2 (1991).” But, by no means were the 90’s the start of any trend when it came to summer blockbusters as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” earned nearly $400 million in 1981 while “Jaws” earned a cool $470 million in 1975 according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, that would be $1.14 billion today making the case it could compete with any of these recent Marvel films. But, as terrifying as “Jaws” might have been back the day, it still was a movie that was quite entertaining. That’s all you need for most films, much less those released during the summer when people are not paying as much attention. I just hope that won’t be the case for “Mission Impossible: Fallout,” a film that is among the best in not just its own series, but also in its own genre.
While it’s not crucial to go back and watch any previous installments to this series, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to prior to seeing this one. Because while it hasn’t always been as consistent, “Mission Impossible: Fallout” does tie back to previous versions in several ways. Here it all starts at a safe house where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) receives a message for his next mission, which he naturally accepted. The plan was to hopefully stop a potential sale of plutonium to members of a new terrorist group known only as The Apostles, only the mission doesn’t go exactly as planned leaving the plutonium in the wind and Hunt’s IMF team looking for answers. So as they start to chase this plutonium down and figure out their next move, they are introduced to the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), a black market arms dealer looking to make her own money on this same plutonium. Using her intel, they were able to devise a new plan to hopefully catch The Apostles at their own game, but when a new player to this espionage game came into focus, everything changed. The result was anything but flattering, but one Ethan and his team embraced as they raced against time to once again complete the mission against impossible odds.
Despite what you may feel or read about Tom Cruise, he knows what he is doing with this series. Sure, it might have got off to a shaky start, but he found his groove within these last few installments. Both fun and engaging, these films have helped set a new standard when it comes to this genre making me wonder what the next “Bond” will look like. Because for everything that has been done from that series over the years, you will be hard pressed to find a film that had better overall action than what Cruise just provided in “Mission Impossible: Fallout.” He just has this way of putting so much into his roles that you can’t help but feel his energy. He continues to prove he is not too old for this role and from the looks of it, does not appear to be ready to walk away anytime soon. Hard to believe a guy who just turned 56 is doing the kind of stunts seen in this latest installment. Its remarkable and quite frankly, it’s something that gets lost in the mix due to the overall love/hate relationship people have with Cruise. But, he lives and breathes this role as Ethan Hunt, one that he has made his own in ways that truly cannot be matched. Sure, what he does is not earth shattering, but you still have to appreciate the work he has put into making sure these films are so much fun to watch. Plus without him, I doubt we would have the supporting cast we have grown accustomed to each time around. That type of continuity has been huge and why it’s probably easy for any newcomer to jump right in. Here, we had a couple, but none more important than Henry Cavill, who was able to shed his red cape to show us what else he is capable of in front of the camera. It wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed his banter with Cruise, especially during the HALO jump sequence.
Let’s face it though, this entire film was only going to exceed if the action was better than the last. Because as much as I like Cruise, he can’t do it all making the job for one Christopher McQuarrie that much more important. Don’t worry, he succeeded and then some, as I can’t remember the last time I was out of breath watching a single action sequence in the way I was during the helicopter chase. This of course after the ridiculous bathroom fight, insane motorcycle chase and underground getaway sequence. I couldn’t had been more impressed with McQuarrie and where he had the camera for the majority of this film. He clearly is starting to get his legs under him when it comes to action, as he was able to take what he learned from “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” and apply it to “Fallout,” helping it become one of the best action flicks in the past decade. No joke, this film is that good and to be honest, it could have been even better had McQuarrie fine-tuned the script a bit more. Nothing major, but there were a few holes I would have liked to have been filled better. Like how the White Widow was the daughter of Max (Vanessa Redgrave), who appeared in the very first “Mission Impossible” as an arms dealer. Again, nothing that keeps you from enjoying the film, but still something to think about as we move to whatever comes next in a series that I hope continues.