Mission: Impossible - Fallout: Film Review
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
It's already been lavished with breathless praise, and it's fair to say that the sixth Mission: Impossible film goes some way to presenting a superlative piece of action blockbuster material, thanks to some truly breath-taking action sequences and Tom Cruise's commitment to live-action stunts.
But in parts, Mission: Impossible - Fallout falters with dialogue and wooden characters barking out seeming like something out of the 1970s spy genre.
Plus, one of its twists can be sign-posted a mile off, thanks to an off-the-cuff line of dialogue that anyone familiar with the genre would slap themselves if missed.
However, all of that matters little when put in the context of spectacle, masterfully orchestrated by Christopher McQuarrie, as he manipulates the pieces of the overly-familiar plot into a knotty Rubik's cube of action.
This time around, Cruise's Ethan Hunt is facing the ramifications of a decision to save one of his team members and losing three pieces of plutonium to a terrorist organisation, The Apostles. With the group looking to purge the world, Hunt faces a race against time, against his past and also against a conspiracy to save the day.
It may be a none-too-original plot (terrorists want to blow up the world), but what engenders Mission: Impossible - Fallout with such blockbuster chutzpah is a sense of scale, a sense of never letting the foot off the action, and some hints into the personal world of Cruise's hitherto blank slate Hunt.
For the most part, the women in this get level-pegging, a chance to hold their own with Ferguson stepping up majorly and Kirby playing the femme fatale role in a manner reminiscent of past film noir. In truth, Cavill flounders a little preferring in parts to chew the scenery as the agent sent to keep tabs on Hunt's team, and is maybe the weaker link in the chain. Coupled with a couple of narrative issues, some wooden dialogue barked in exposition fashion, it's not quite the slam dunk at times.
However, it's the set pieces that sparkle with bravura throughout - from a bathroom fight sequence executed with bone-crunching brevity and bravura to the Queenstown-set finale in the skies, McQuarrie's made sure that the tension is there when it needs to be, and the thrilling delivers when it needs to.
In truth, as ever, this is still the Tom Cruise show, and while the hints of the personal make the plot a little more engaging (any top notch spy film needs to juggle the mix of the two, leading to the inevitable final act clash), some of the characters on the peripherary don't quite get their time to shine - a shame for both Pegg and Rhames' IMF agents who get breadcrumbs of time in the limelight.
While the IMF team feels unstoppable in their sixth iteration, and perhaps going even more personal may work for any further outings with a death of one their own, lest they become ever more closer to the superheroes of the spy world, Mission: Impossible - Fallout's utter commitment to scene-dazzling shenanigans and spectacle can't be denied.
Easily the best action film of the year, Mission: Impossible - Fallout offers a thrilling and occasionally emotionally grounded alternative to other blockbusters' flights of fancy.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to head to the cinema to see this. In truth, it's potentially one of the easiest decisions you're likely to make - and as long as future installments look to fix some of the narrative niggles presented here, the Mission: Impossible series will likely be in rude health for years to come.