Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Title: Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Describe This Movie Using One Chumbawumba Quote:

I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Tom Cruise (almost) dies for our sins.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4 Wolf Blitzers out of 5

Tagline: "Some missions are not a choice."

Better Tagline: "Aren't you literally getting too old for this shit?"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) learns John Lark and the Apostles aren't actually a bar band, but have stolen three plutonium cores with the goal of nuking someone so hard that peace breaks out. Or something. Hunt and fellow agents Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), along with unwelcome CIA addition August Walker (Henry Cavill), must meet a shadowy arms dealer (Vanessa Kirby) and solve this mystery that's almost as daunting as discovering Shelly Miscavige's whereabouts.

"Critical" Analysis:
There's a point in the sixth Mission: Impossible movie where a bad guy asks Ethan Hunt if he's ever decided *not* to accept one of the IMF's missions. The answer, of course, is no. After a brief flirtation with domestic bliss in M:I III, Hunt is incapable of ignoring the call to save the world. And the total shift in focus from remotely coherent plots to balls-out action plays right into Tom Cruise's fanatical approach to his moviemaking; it's the perfect franchise fit for him.

The most recent entries in the series have increasingly showcased Cruise's death-defying antics. From dangling from the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol to ... dangling from the side of an ascending Airbus 400 in Rogue Nation, each stunt is more insane than the last. Though maybe not as crazy as spending your life's savings to learn that millions of years ago an alien overlord destroyed his people with H-bombs and unleashed their disincarnate spirits to plague mankind.

Fallout ups the ante even more, with Cruise performing an actual HALO jump and (yes) dangling from a helicopter in the film's epic climax sequence. It makes the central car/motorcycle/foot chase through Paris seem almost quaint by comparison, never mind that Cruise is most assuredly zipping through traffic his damn self (and ignore the obvious — and necessary — CGI conclusion of said chase). Even the stunt that resulted in his broken ankle is here, leading one to wonder if Cruise's contract stipulates that if he dies while filming, the footage will be kept in the finished product.

Such will be Cruise's monument, and to quote Watership Down, perhaps it would not have displeased him.

Christopher McQuarrie, returning to the director's chair after helming Rogue Nation, has developed into a fine action director. The set pieces are more thrilling than anything we've seen in the franchise, and the fights are brutal and tightly focused. Cavill steals many of his scenes, with a physical menace barely concealed by his deadpan humor, and Kirby is really having too good a time to be in a movie with Tom Cruise.

Just kidding. Gonzo stunts aside, Cruise seems almost laid back in the M:I movies. And Fallout's plot, like those of most of the series, is as ridiculously nonsensical as the idea of a tax dodge masquerading as a church signing people to billion-year contracts. The IMF has gone from relatively innocuous objectives like obtaining a list of secret agents to preventing shadowy cabals staffed soley by mustachioed Euros in designer suits from ending civilization as we know it. And yet Fallout teases catastrophe so often, it actually keeps you guessing.

M:I-F's most questionable aspect comes at the expense of its female characters, in which there's a creepy sort of passing the romantic torch from Hunt's ex-wife Julian (Michelle Monaghan) to MI6 badass Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), which unfortunately undercuts what both bring to the film.

But when the action is this insane and the cast so clearly enjoying themselves, it's hard not to get swept along. And swept along we are, like an unsuspecting person taking an online personality test. Even Cruise's apparent contractual stipulation that he spend at least one-fourth of the film's running time, well, running can't take away from the visceral thrills contained herein. Cruise just turned 56, and though we've been saying it for [checks watch] 12 years, it's hard to imagine him topping this.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is in theaters today. Maybe next the next mission the IMF could accept is looking into the death of Lisa McPherson, or "Flo" Barnett, or Susan Meister.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar