Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the franchise's sixth installment, throws away coherency and realism, replacing these with palpable tension and absurd action pieces. Ghosts of Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) past come back to haunt him as a cache of plutonium is lost on his watch, and it's up to the Impossible Missions Force (ugh) to combat a group of terrorists called The Apostles in retrieving it. Fans of the series will appreciate the gunplay, fistfights, mask-wearing and daredevil stunts provided by Cruise, anyone else will find a serviceable action flick that works OK for late summer.
Cruise is loose—hydrated and unstoppable, remarkable for a 56-year-old actor. Henry Cavill (Man From UNCLE), meanwhile, looks as if he's been sleeping in his car for the last few weeks. He's so puffy, he can't fully put his arms down. Ving Rhames is surprisingly soulful as Luther Stickell, however, and his long-standing relationship with Cruise's Ethan Hunt takes the forefront, further strengthening their 23-year bond.
Elsewhere, Rebecca Ferguson (Life) has the most spectacular character entrance in the film, and although she is underused, she is easily the biggest scene-stealer. Simon Pegg further proves he belongs in the series with some of the best scenes coming from his familiarity with every single recurring character. Alec Baldwin shows up, too, basically playing himself, but Angela Bassett capably counters his forgiving-father archetype with a stern mother character as head of the CIA. Sean Harris, the stereotypical villain, growls and makes threats. An honorable mention does go to True Detective alum Michelle Monaghan as it was particularly nice to see her come back to the series.
Christopher McQuarrie returns as well as series writer/director, following up his success with the fifth installment, Rogue Nation. McQuarrie's directing style is competent enough as far as action scenes go, but between the too-frequent double crosses and an excess of cheesy lines (21 by this author's rough count), his writing skills feel weak. The sets and cinematography simultaneously scream "pretty" and "fake."
Still, as we approach late summer, there are far worse choices. Fallout is as silly as it comes, but at least it isn't a disappointment.
+Thrillingly over the top action; (mostly) magnetic cast
-Long winded plot devices; every cliche imaginable; Henry "Puffy" Cavill's awkwardness
Mission: Impossible: Fallout
Directed by McQuarrie
With Cruise, Rhames, Pegg, Ferguson, Bassett and Baldwin
Regal, Violet Crown, PG-13, 147 min.