*. The Mission: Impossible franchise began with a pair of films that very much bore the signature of their directors, Brian De Palma and John Woo. In Mission Impossible III J. J. Abrams took the reins and I thought there was a noticeable turn toward the generic. This isn’t to say things got worse. In fact, this series of films has maintained a relatively high level of quality throughout, if what you want is big-screen action. But it does mean that after the first couple of movies I have trouble keeping the different episodes straight in my head. Which was the one with the Rabbit’s Foot? Or the one with Tom Cruise holding on to the outside of a plane while it was taking off?
*. When Fallout was released it was met with near universal praise and heralded by many as the best Mission: Impossible yet. It’s certainly the biggest, clocking in at two-and-a-half hours and filled with all of the trademark spectacular stunts you’ve come to expect as well as such franchise stand-bys as Cruise sprinting for very long distances, climbing cliffs without a rope, and (most dangerous of all) riding a motorcycle like a maniac without a helmet.
*. That said, and perhaps because of all that I’ve just said, I found this to be the first of these movies that bored me. Not all of it, but at times. As far as plots go I felt like they’d completely run out of ideas. Basically this is the back half of a two-parter that started with Rogue Nation, and much of it seemed a little too familiar. There’s the kidnapping of a bad guy in a washroom at a swank event so that the team can duplicate him (that was in Mission Impossible III). There’s the fake hospital interrogation (used on Brendan Gleeson in Mission: Impossible II). Having been here before it was easy to stay out ahead of the plot. I don’t think there are any twists here that came as a surprise, and I thought there should have been.
*. In short, I didn’t care for the script. It’s not interesting on any level. The plot revolves, again, around the recovery of some small, portable item (in this case balls of plutonium). Ethan Hunt’s wife is dragged back into the picture for no good reason at all. Just imagine the movie without her. It’s very easy to do. Jeremy Renner’s character has disappeared without explanation (Renner had another two-part franchise blockbuster to star in at the time). Poor Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is little more than a piece of luggage for most of the movie, and I still couldn’t figure out just what his evil plan was. Henry Cavill looks like he’s making an honest effort to get this material work, but really it’s beyond even his brawn and rugged good looks. Everything here takes a back seat to the action.
*. If there’s nothing new here, at least what there is is very well done. Meaning expensive and totally state of the art. There’s a helicopter chase scene at the end that must have blown audiences away on a big screen. It’s truly spectacular, and set against some awesome natural backdrops. The photography is marvelous. Aside from that, there’s a chase through the streets of Paris and a scene where Cruise and Cavill jump out of an airplane at high altitude. None of this makes a single lick of sense. Apparently Hunt doesn’t even know how to fly a helicopter and still manages to make out like a stunt pilot extraordinaire. But the whole series has waved its hand at probabilities.
*. It was very successful, and plans were announced for (at least) a couple more films. Which should take Tom Cruise into his 60s. I hope he keeps training and eating healthy meals because I don’t see how they can affort to let things get any easier for Ethan Hunt. I do hope they try to do something new though. As I began by saying, the last four movies all just stick together in my head in a blur and I can no longer remember what any of them were about. But I don’t think that generic, formula quality is the secret of the franchise’s success, or at least the main part of it. It’s worth putting that to the test anyway. I hope I’m not wrong. I mean, people don’t just want more of the same, do they?