When Mission: Impossible – Fallout started, I found myself electrified and glued to the massive IMAX screen I saw it on. Each heart-pounding action sequence in the first two acts from the exciting Paris motorcycle chase to the brutal bathroom fight sequence, easily was worth the 20 dollars spent on a ticket. Simply put, Fallout contains the best action sequences of any film this year so far. Thanks to Tom Cruise and an excellent stunt crew, each action sequence was both exciting and completely original, a term that unfortunately cannot be used to describe the rest of the film. Often times, especially during the cliché-filled third act, it felt like any other action film released and it simply didn’t do the incredible action sequences justice in its storytelling. Ultimately, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is an enjoyable, fast-paced and riveting action film that is leaps ahead of what is available today for action fans, but unfortunately doesn’t contain a single ounce of originality, deterring the experience as fun but nothing innovative.
When it comes to the screenplay of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, it is clear from the very beginning that the storytelling is designed to lead into another action sequence. But unlike other recent films, this doesn’t cause any detrimental flaws in its actual execution. No obvious plot holes or irrelevant and unnecessary plot threads emerge from the experience. It feels reasonably natural and creates a feeling of mystification that is missing from recent action films like Skyscraper for instance. In addition, the pacing of the film is mostly top-notch throughout. In the first two acts, each action sequence is heart-pounding and amplified with the incredible work Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill places on the screen as action stars. The story kicks off in spectacular fashion and sustains its pace to such a degree that its length 147-minute runtime was never an issue. In fact, at certain moments, it felt as if the movie was too short as I found myself wishing it would never end during the excellent second act.
However, during the third and final act, the pacing, while fast in its design, takes a major hit. During the ridiculous helicopter sequence, it almost felt as if there were too many action sequences and that the resonance of the story was being forgotten. This is especially due to how there is a clear lack of originality in this final phase of the story. It feels like a comic book film at times, even with the lack of CGI displayed on screen. There is nothing innovative about the resolution or the build-up to it. Conventional events fly as if the screenplay had no more unique ideas on how to tell the story. This is especially apparent in the rather abrupt ending that feels neither earned or worthy. However, most audiences will forgive the comic-book film nature of the third act with the excellent two acts preceding it. These two phases are masterfully told and have some truly innovative ideas that build off previous entries in the franchise. All the plot twists and turns present may always be painfully predictable, but they are still enjoyable nonetheless. As a whole, it is clear that this screenplay may have critical cracks but it still does a serviceable job at amplifying the incredible action sequences and stringing them together as a mostly unified whole.
As for the performances, they are all universally great all-around. Tom Cruise is excellent as always as Ethan Hunt, delivering a more mature and deep impression of the character. Returning actors and actresses Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames are serviceable but never leave much of an impact outside of their clichéd characters. However, newcomer Henry Cavill is marvelous as August Walker. In fact, he even outshines Tom Cruise at times as the lead action star. His character may not have anything particularly innovative about him and is mostly muted in character development, but his action sequences are still stellar to watch, especially on a towering IMAX screen. It is ultimately a shame that the characterization of these mostly excellent performances would come across as pale and lackluster.
As any other film critic will tell you, the action sequences in Mission: Impossible – Fallout are breathtaking in both its design and execution. They easily outclass any other action film from this year, including the Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War. They rival as the best sequences in the entire 22-year franchise as well. The reason for this is simple and obvious…Tom Cruise’s willingness to do the impossible and the incredible stunt team that helps him in the process. At multiple times throughout the film, I could hear my audience gasp when an action sequence would leave them stunned. Thanks to the insistence that the film be as practical as possible, these moments feel real and are only heightened as the film proceeds in a fashionably fast pace.
As a whole, Mission: Impossible – Fallout proved to be stellar as an action film, but as a worthy story fails miserably. Its action sequences are easily the best in recent memory and likely won’t be topped until the next film in this franchise. In addition, it has some truly stand-out performances from Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt and newcomer Henry Cavill as August Walker. But the shallow storytelling and characterization that reeks of clichéd methods disappoints at every turn, especially in the final act. It should please audiences around the world and make enough at the box office to warrant a sequel. But as a film, it is still faulted and has critical cracks in it that deters and diminishes the experience.
Score: 7.0 out of 10