I would like to begin with an apology. Right now, there are 7 drafts sitting in my review folder. I have indie films to analyze, antique anthropology to bring back into the light, and a hatchet job on Mamma Mia 2 which consumes me with evil joy.
But nothing – nothing – can come before Mission: Impossible. I am totally biased on this topic. I have been nurturing weird fan theories for years, so as well as a review, you are going to have to sit through the internet equivalent of someone sitting at a bar emanating weird smells and muttering to themselves.
I’m probably going to get kicked off the blog for this. Thanks for the excuse to rewatch the series.
First, the conspiracy theories
Tom Cruise has been running through city centres since 1996, although in his Instagram bio, it says 1981. (This implies that he thinks there was life before Mission: Impossible, which makes no sense.) In my crazed delirium, I believe that the Mission: Impossible franchise is both an important historical document from the 90s to the present day, and the key to understanding Tom Cruise’s psychological state over the years.
The first movie is a relatively straightforward thriller, if by “straightforward” we mean “amazing”. Things start to get interesting with Mission: Impossible II. This film is a delicate exploration of sexuality and jealousy. It is on a level with Harold Pinter, except nobody noticed because there are lots of explosions. It was released in 2000 and has a biochemical warfare storyline, which has become pretty much the signature neurosis of 21st century action movies. Historical document!
Mission: Impossible III continues the theme of mysterious organizations ruining Tom Cruise’s nice time. You may draw your own conclusions about Scientology. Remember that Tom Cruise is very good at running and shooting things, but doesn’t actually write the movies himself, so we should regard the script as an implicit dialogue between him and the writers room. Clearly, they think someone is out to get him. Clearly, he refuses to give up on the establishment.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is another film which skewers the political moment. The MI team literally blows up the Kremlin. I found this scene enjoyably hilarious. The entire film is great. Tom Cruise gets betrayed by his superiors, again. For some reason, I can remember very little of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Never mind. The themes are the same.
The franchise gets bonus points, as a whole, for maintaining such a consistent tone despite using a different director for each film. They have also avoided the Fast and Furious trap of easily parodied titles, except for the bizarre overuse of punctuation. I would like the next instalment to be called Mission: Impossible – “Kiss Me, Hardy”; an Action Film in Two (2) Parts.
Tom Cruise runs!
Not everyone likes Tom Cruise. This is strange but true! If you are a person who does not like Tom Cruise, try asking someone who does, why. They will probably say something like this:
“He is so small! And he runs so fast!”
(That is a direct quote of what I say when people ask me.) Tom Cruise is very good at manipulating perspective and running fast. In Mission: Impossible – Fallout, he does both of these things. The best part of the film is the chase scene in London, which deserves to join the Chase Scene Hall of Fame, if such a thing exists.
Tom Cruise also has a go at psychologically manipulating the baddies. It’s a great reveal, and nice to see the tables turned for once. Unfortunately – you’ve guessed it – his bosses betray him yet again. I don’t think that even counts as a spoiler at this point.
Supporting characters/muscle mass
Let’s run through my favourite characters. I have weird opinions about all of them, too! This is an incomplete list. I wanted to include more women, but I skipped all of the boring stock characters, so. Step it up, Mission: Impossible – Fallout writers!
Simon Pegg joined the franchise in 2006, and has consistently been a joy. I’m biased, because I like the Cornetto trilogy and also he looks like my dad, but he is a genuinely good addition to the cast. The lonely voice of sanity, crying out in the wilderness.
Vanessa Kirby is a goddess whom you should recognize from The Crown and The Hour. In this movie, she wears couture and values men’s lives less than stale macarons. I adore her.
Alec Baldwin is doing his whole silver fox act here. Because I am counter-cultural, I only know him from the neglected superhero film The Shadow. In Fallout, he pulls a gun on someone with the exact same flick of the wrist as he did in The Shadow. I squealed. The cinema was crowded. I regret nothing.
Ving Rhames is there so that Simon Pegg doesn’t feel like the only grown-up on the team. He is so calm, all the time. He makes polite small talk while defusing bombs. I would like to invite Ving Rhames round for afternoon tea.
Henry Cavill made headlines for that bathroom brawl where he reloads his biceps. I was disappointed to discover that this is a one-second move, and not a major plot point. Historically, Cavill has suffered from Armie Hammer Serial Killer face, but he is becoming more interesting.
Please watch Mission: Impossible – Fallout. If you enjoy it a tenth as much as I did, then you will have known true madness. It’s still in many cinemas, or you can pre-order it here.