Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on August 1, 2018 @ tonymacklin.net.


Mission: Impossible - Fallout is a franchise, so it's prepackaged. It's patented, not creative. It may be tasty, but it's not fulfilling.

The latest episode of the Franchise is all over the place. The Mission Impossible force plays whack-a-mole. It's a game, distended to 2 1/2 hours.

It's too much, too often. It tries hard to be generic. It chases after its own tale. Audiences seem to favor that.

In many ways Mission: Impossible - Fallout is a paramount example of contemporary film. Stunts overwhelm character. Acting falls far behind motion.

Director/writer Christopher McQuarrie is an appropriate representative of the contemporary filmmaker. McQuarrie started out as a clever, imaginative, unique screenwriter. He won an Oscar for writing the enticing The Usual Suspects (1995).

Even though he's credited with the screenplay for Mission: Impossible - Fallout, he's essentially not a writer anymore.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the 4th film McQuarrie has directed. He's controlled by the genre. Words hardly matter. Stunts shove aside language. McQuarrie is now an action director.

Much of the publicity centers on the fact that Tom Cruise did many of his own stunts. But Cruise on a motorcycle is not worth 1,000 words. 1,000 words are worth 1,000 words. But in a lot of films today, they're worth nothing.

Cruise as Ethan Hunt coasts through Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Cruise flies, flops, and flounders. He doesn't do much acting. He could just as well have been wearing one of the rubber masks the Franchise loves.

I've always thought that Tom Cruise is an underrated actor. He has the talent to take more challenges. I hope he will. I think he should.

Cruise may deserve a more challenging director than McQuarrie. Most major actors stay with one director for several films. But Cruise hadn't until he made two films with Steven Spielberg (Minority Report, 2002 and War of the Worlds, 2005).

Now Cruise has made three films directed by McQuarrie: Jack Reacher (2012), Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015), and Mission: Impossible - Fallout. They challenged his body, but not his soul. Actually McQuarrie did recognize Cruise's soul in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, which makes it more depressing that he ignores it in Mission: Impossible - Fallout.

But there are several directors who have elicited memorable performances from Cruise. Cruise's past directors are a litany of Who's Who among the foremost modern directors. They reached the soul of the actor.

It's a stellar list: Barry Levinson (Rain Man, 1988), Michael Mann (Collateral, 2004), Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, 1999), Oliver Stone (Born on the Fourth of July, 1989), Sydney Pollack (The Firm, 1993), Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut, 1999), and Marty Scorsese (The Color of Money, 1986).

In The Color of Money, Cruise helped Paul Newman win his first and only Oscar. May he join him.

The supporting cast backing up Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout is forgettable. Simon Pegg is lively as Benji, and Ving Rhames as Luther has one of the few genuine moments when he explains Hunt to Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson).

But usually cardboard figures would suffice. The villains are hairy and nondescript. The women are attractive.

The action sequences overwhelm character. The film's flights of fancy are helicopter chases, following rote car chases. Where's John Frankenheimer when we need him?

The screenplay offers clichés. Guess how many seconds are left in a countdown when Hunt saves the world? It couldn't be one, could it?

The screenplay does offer one telling line.

At one point, on the run Hunt yells, "I'm being followed."

His contact asks, "CIA or Apostles?"

Hunt responds, "Does it matter?"

In Mission: Impossible - Fallout, that line says it all.

© 2000-2018 Tony Macklin