The last thing I expected when heading into a screening of Mission: Impossible – Fallout was to feel so overwhelmingly bored by all the garish, technically proficient action sequences the film crams into its two-and-a-half-hour runtime. For the sixth installment, director Christopher McQuarrie becomes the first director to return to the franchise, having previously directed 2015’s Rogue Nation.
While McQuarrie attempts to bridge Fallout with Rogue Nation, a first for the long-running film series, it seems like an exercise in futility. It’s a noble endeavor, though a futile one. After all, why bother to connect the narrative of two films when they possess so little of it on their own?
It’s almost astounding that a movie can be so in love with itself, and so egregiously flaunts the death-defying stunts that producer/star Tom Cruise performs himself, only to treat its storytelling with so much mundanity it comes across as outright contempt. To the point that Cruise’s stuntwork becomes the only thing about the franchise to take any risks whatsoever.
Throughout Mission: Impossible – Fallout, there are numerous scenes that hint at a world where everything’s at stake, only to ultimately shrug its shoulders and undo its potential by attributing those moments to dream sequences, character fantasy, or being twenty three-skidoo’d by Ethan Hunt and his band of merry spies.
Hell, two of them happen before the opening credits.
While a cohesive narrative through-line is treated like an inconvenience, what plot is scraped together is half-heartedly spackled from one action sequence to the next. Objectively speaking, the action sequences themselves are impressive, but it’s harder to suspend one’s disbelief when that technically proficient filmmaking is filled with characters that prove themselves inept so consistently that ineptitude becomes the only trait that they seem able to exhibit.
Therein lies the ostentatious methodology to Mission: Impossible – Fallout. You watch Tom Cruise run across rooftops, through open office spaces, and interrupting a very important-seeming funeral. He dangles from a helicopter, then climbs inside the cockpit, then pilots the fucking thing. Oh, and if you look closely, you can see the scene where he not only breaks his ankle but hobbles away afterward. Yes, they left it in the movie! Tom Cruise is so committed to his craft!
Is all the showboating impressive? Yes, again from an objective standpoint. Does it make the movie any more enjoyable knowing that Tom Cruise really is dangling off that cliff? Not really.
This is where that pesky story aspect comes into play. It’s impossible to care about Hunt, or anyone, for that matter, because there’s no reason to feel invested in them. With dialogue is solely resigned to basic exposition — a good 60% of what’s spoken in the movie can be seen in the trailers — the action-heavy moments come across as little more than prosaic.
Finally, I’m well aware that “plot” isn’t what people have been lining up for since Mission: Impossible first hit theaters 22 years ago, but as they’ve evolved into empty showcases for Cruise’s pathological exhibitionism, any nuance has been pushed aside for a helicopter crash followed by two more helicopter crashes.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in theaters now