Only a franchise with a set of rules written by Brian De Palma in 1996 could be this absurd and watchable at the same time.
If you don’t know what to watch next, Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) is available to stream on Hulu.
The action spy film is a follow-up to the fifth installment in the series, McQuarrie’s own Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), making him the first filmmaker to return and direct more than one of these movies.
McQuarrie also wrote the screenplay and co-produced alongside star Tom Cruise as well as Mission: Impossible III (2006) director J.J. Abrams.
Set two years after the events of Rogue Nation, Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is tasked with buying three stolen plutonium cores in Berlin before a terrorist group known as the Apostles can on behalf of a mysterious client known as John Lark.
The mission goes awry, so CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) assigns Special Activities Division operative August Walker (Henry Cavill) to supervise Ethan as he tracks down the plutonium.
Meanwhile, former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is hellbent on assassinating Rogue Nation villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) to prove her loyalty to the intelligence agency, even though he is the key to finding the missing plutonium.
Ethan Hunt is the American answer to England’s James Bond, and, while Bond is the more classic hero, Ethan is the more consistent.
He is not the womanizer Bond is, and, though he finds himself in “exotic” locales, his adventures are not quite as colonizing as Bond’s are, in that he is genuinely a world-saving hero, not a blunt instrument of imperialization.
The continuity between the Mission: Impossible flicks also develop his arc more, and that Cruise is the only actor to play him also further humanizes him, whereas Bond is more of an icon than a character.
As with any action picture, the staging of the set-pieces is imperative, and, in Fallout, the choreography is balletic.
Cruise prides himself on performing his own stunt work, and so the spectacle on display is more ageless than an overreliance on CGI which would become dated, not if, but when. McQuarrie has earned the right to helm the next two sequels.
As much pure dumb fun as Mission: Impossible is, it may be more “dumb” than “fun” for some. Ethan’s increasingly convoluted mission reveals can be laughable, and the longer he survives his escalating stakes (such as nuclear apocalypse), the greater the suspension of disbelief.
Then again, the ridiculousness is all part of the entertainment value, and Mission: Impossible is anything but self-serious.
In fact, it is its sillier flourishes that attract its cult following, and if you “get” it, you’re in for a ride.