Mission Impossible / Fallout: A Modern Odyssey

Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

Director – Christopher McQuarrie

Writer –  Christopher McQuarrie

Starring – Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg

Rating – PG-13

Genre – Action

Metascore – 86/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 98%

One of the earliest impossible missions in history comes from The Odyssey. To prove his identity, Odysseus must complete the impossible challenge: stringing his powerful bow to shoot an arrow through twelve ax heads. Mission Impossible: Fallout tells a contemporary version of this tale. Ethan Hunt, along with the IMF team, is tasked with the impossible: preventing nuclear fallout; and, to a lesser extent, working with and against Ilsa Faust on her own odyssey back home. And like Odysseus, only Hunt can do the impossible.

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Though Tom Cruise continues to age like the rest of us (I think), he still excels in his role as Hunt. His camaraderie with the rest of the cast carries the films, especially this one. As the story focuses on Hunts’ relationships, we learn quickly what being a friend means to him. The intensity Hunt feels towards chasing down bad guys and saving the world is the very same intensity he feels towards his friends. Moreover, Cruise brings flesh to an otherwise seemingly invincible guy. By committing to his own stunts as much as possible, Cruise ensures the heart-pounding, white-knuckle action sequences are riveting, tenacious, and legitimate.

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Fallout impresses further due to the incredible supporting cast. Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, the enigmatic, phenomenal agent from across the pond, provides subtext and complexity to the film. Faust is a fascinating wild card. In fact, if Mission Impossible ever continues without Cruise, Ferguson could easily take over. At the same time, Luther and Benji are both fantastic. Their presence contributes greatly to the heart and humor of the film. And, as if a character itself, the music in Fallout graces the ear, establishing and carrying significant emotional beats whether sorrow, fear, contemplation, deception, or the excitement of sheer adrenaline.

In such a action-heavy film, humor and heart set Fallout apart. As much as the set pieces try to steal the show, the human elements put this film above most other action movies. Hunt’s value of human life, Faust’s motivations in kind, Luther’s reciprocal care for Hunt, and Benji’s courage all make for unique storytelling effects in what could have been a heartless, thoughtless summer blockbuster. Instead, one might leave the theater thinking not only, “That’s why we go to the movies,” but also, “Do I care about others as much as Hunt?”

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Amidst the spectacle, however, there are a couple of minor rough spots. For instance, Henry Cavill struggled to distance himself from that other brooding action hero. Further, an early chase scene felt slightly too staged. This was remedied quickly by rushing the viewer back into the ever increasingly gutsy moves made by Hunt and others.

Fallout champions the idea that the action genre can give viewers compelling themes and human behavior to consider. The film sucks you into its world; and when the credits roll, you’ll finally be able take that elusive deep breath.

Author: Matt Welborn

499 Rating: 9 / 10