Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Rating: C+

Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Star: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson

I’d definitely seen the sixth entry before, yet it appears I never wrote a review. This slightly disturbed me as I settled down to watch it, before I realized why I hadn’t bothered. The truth is, this is startlingly generic fare. Well assembled, to be sure. It just doesn’t have much on which to hang a review, because it seems incapable of generating a strong reaction. It’s a surprise, since the last two entries didn’t have any real trouble creating a sense of engagement in me. Many of the same people are back, including for the first time in the franchise, the director. Yet the script here feels like a retread – or “throwback”, if you’re feeling charitable.

This came home to me particularly at the end, when Hunt is engaged in a fist-fight with a villain, while feet away, a nuclear device is counting down towards zero. Hang on… wasn’t that the climax of Goldfinger? What I’ve enjoyed about the show is the way it has pushed forward and innovated. While it may share the name of a sixties spy series, that’s about all. We’ve been watching the original series, and it’s remarkably static and talky. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just very different to the adrenaline-driven movies. Seeing it clone (or more appropriately, carbon-copy) a climax from a movie over 50 years old feels lazy. The same goes for rather too much, including August Walker (Cavill), who could hardly be more obvious if he waxed his mustache and twirled it occasionally.

There’s something of a familiar feel to the villainy as well, with Solomon Lane still the subject of much attention, even though he was captured at the end of the last film. Now, his acolytes, the Apostles, are plotting to obtain a trio of plutonium cores and use them in terrorist attacks, in conjunction with an individual known only as “John Lark”. Hunt and colleague Walker, are tasked to stop him, along with other returnees Benji Dunn (Pegg) and British agent Ilsa Faust (Ferguson). She needs to get her hands on Lane in order to regain the confidence of her employers. It’s all lightly engaging, yet there’s a lack of intensity when compared to its predecessors.

I do think we may have reached Peak Hunt Running here though, with a foot-chase from St. Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames (top) to the Tate Modern. Cruise runs funny. Trust me. Once you notice it, you’ll never be able not to see it. This sequence is where he broke his ankle leaping from roof to roof, an incident which reportedly cost $80 million in costs, as everyone still had to be paid for a couple of months while he healed up (insurance covered it). Yet it perhaps says something that the misfire is likely more memorable than any of the action here which goes right, though the helicopter stuff at the end has its moments. Let’s hope the franchise gets back on track for the two-part seventh entry.