Movie review: ‘Mission’ accomplished
“Mission: Impossible — Fallout” is the action movie of the summer, the year, and quite possibly the decade.
The shiny, flashy, nearly nonstop thriller confirms its star Tom Cruise as the cinema’s last action hero.
It’s a mantle that has passed from the likes of Clint Eastwood, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone and, one would think, Dwayne Johnson, Daniel Craig and Vin Diesel.
Instead, as super-spy Ethan Hunt, the mantle is Cruise’s for the taking, and take it he does. The sixth installment out-Bonds James Bond and out-Bournes Jason Bourne.
The mission, should Ethan Hunt accept it, and accept it he does, is complicated. Suffice it to say there’s plutonium, three stolen nuclear warheads and a ticking clock.
“MI6” is eminently more impressive, exciting and satisfying than the plethora of overblown CGI and special effects-laden Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Comics superhero movies of late.
While there are dozens of CGI artists and firms listed in the lengthy end credits for “MI6,” what sets this film apart from the comic-book superhero movies is that the action is grounded in earth-based reality, rather than some mythic cosmos, fictional nation or half-man, half-beast, half-cyborg protagonist.
Cruise is all-man: His compact frame clinging, running and leaping to new heights of death-defying acts. In one scene, Cruise jumps from one roof to another roof and, according to media reports, broke his right ankle during the filming of it.
There are nine major stunt set pieces. Cruise races a BMW E28 5 Series (circa 1981-88) through the streets of Paris with bumper-car glee and zooms along on a motorcycle in another scene. Cruise parachutes out of a supply aircraft at the start of the film. Cruise commandeers a helicopter by climbing up a rope and then pilots it, chasing another chopper. There are several intense martial-arts scenes and a fist fight on the edge of a cliff.
While these examples may sound de rigueur for an action film, the camera angles (cinematographer Rob Hardy), editing (Eddie Hamilton), and soundtrack (Lorne Balfe pumps up the percussion) heighten the intensity. The original Lalo Schifrin “MI” theme song is slowed down and turned inside out to good effect. It’s also still exciting to hear the theme during opening and closing credits.
Scenes are bone-crunchingly realistic and will have you on the edge of your movie theater seat. Sun and light flares and a camera almost constantly in motion give “MI6” a kinetic-energy boost.
“MI6” was seen in 2D for this review. The movie is already darkly lit in many scenes, so 3D is a questionable choice. However, Cruise and “MI6” fans may want to see the film in 3D or perhaps even better, IMAX.
Christopher McQuarrie (director, “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” 2015; Oscar, screenplay, “The Usual Suspects,” 1995) directs with a deft sense of pacing, alternating superbly action scenes and dialogue scenes. McQuarrie wrote the well-crafted screenplay based on the TV series (1966-73) created by Bruce Geller (1930-78). The screenplay has double-crosses, triple-crosses and quadruple-crosses. It’s dizzying to try to keep up with it.
“MI6” is Cruise’s film all the way, and he’s great, with his dimpled cheek, clenched teeth, intense stare charm in full effect. Cruise nuances the humanity of Nathan Hunt. Cruise accomplishes this convincingly without mawkishness.
The casting is terrific with several fine supporting actor performances, including Henry Cavill (August Walker) as a villain with a heart of conflict; Ving Rhames (Luther Stikell), back as Hunt’s immensely likable sidekick; Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), a marvelous turn as Hunt’s techie with a touch of humor; Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), stunning in action or stillness; Sean Harris (Solomon Lane), a terrorist whose rights crusade goes terribly wrong; Angela Bassett (Erica Sloan), the brisk head of the operation; Vanessa Kirby (White Widow), intriguing as a gang leader of dubious distinction; Michelle Monaghan (Julia Meade-Hunt), who beautifully fills one of the missing pieces in Ethan Hunt’s jigsaw-puzzle life, and Alec Baldwin (Alan Hunley), who provides excellent same-side dramatic tension.
Fall into “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” on the big screen.
“Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language. Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller. Run time: 2 hrs., 27 mins. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” was filmed on location in Paris, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and United Arab Emirates.
Box Office, Aug. 3: Tom Cruise showed it’s possible that he’s the cinema’s No. 1 action hero as “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” continued at No. 1 two weeks straight with $35 million, $124.4 million, two weeks, keeping “Christopher Robin” and his Pooh Bear opening at No. 2 with $25 million and the Mila Kunis Kate McKinnon comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” opening at No. 3 with a not-so-funny $12.3 million.
4. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” dropped two steps, $9 million, $91.3 million, three weeks. 5. “The Equalizer 2,” dropped two places with $8.8 million, $79.8 million, three weeks. 6. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” traveled down two places, $8.2 million, $136.4 million, four weeks. 7. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” crawled down two slots with $6.1 million, $195.4 million, five weeks. 8. “The Darkest Minds,” $5.8 million, opening. 9. “Incredibles 2” dropped two slots, $5 million, $583.1 million, eight weeks. 10. “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” didn’t get many to go to the movies, dropping five places, $4.8 million, $20.7 million, two weeks.
Unreel, Aug. 10:
“The Meg,” PG-13: Jon Turteltaub directs Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, and Jessica McNamee in the action thriller. A 70-foot shark attacks explorers in a submersible craft.
“Dog Days,” PG: Ken Marino direct Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard, and Lauren Lapkus in the comedy. The lives of several people in Los Angeles intersect through their pet dogs.
“Slender Man,” PG-13: Sylvain White directs Joey King, Javier Botet, Julia Goldani Telles, and Annalise Basso in the horror film. The character is said to have triggered a real-life murder. See this film at your own risk.
“BlacKkKlansman,” R: Spike Lee directs Adam Driver, Alec Baldwin, Topher Grace, and John David Washington in the biography comedy drama. An African-American police officer from Colorado infiltrates the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Skate Kitchen,” R: Crystal Moselle directs Kabrina Adams, Tom Bruno, Thaddeus Daniels, and Kobi Frumer in the drama. A teen skateboarder makes friends with girl skateboarders in New York City.
Five popcorn boxes out of five popcorn boxes.