I’m beginning to think I’m too harsh on films sometimes. My wife and I went to see a pre-screening of Mission Impossible: Fallout at IMAX this week with a whole lot of C-Grade celebrities and were super excited (not because of the C-Grade celebrities). Big screen! Explosions! Old man Cruise doing young man stunts! Bullets! Simon Pegg! Henry Cavill with a REAL moustache!?! Things that go fast (not the run time)! My bladder lurched at the concept of a 2.5 hour movie as the opening credits began with the familiar theme song.
As far as a storyline goes – it’s a silly spy movie storyline. They provide some (sadly) obvious sleight of hand using the famous Mission Impossible ultra-realistic face masks and voice changes. They briefly play with a pointless love triangle that is resolved with almost comic dismissiveness and coincidences that are painfully convenient and help to drive the story forward. For such a long run time I think they could have offered more in regards to storytelling but let’s be honest – this movie is not about the story. It’s about the boom boom, bang bang, ooooh.
Fortunately, what followed was a lot of big, expensive, loud things and these big expensive, loud things were incredibly impressive, exciting and fun to watch. The pacing of this film was honestly outstanding. Pretty much non-stop. Awful, cliched, irrelevant dialogue provided momentary rest stops where we could very briefly catch our breath before the next motorbike chase, parkour rooftop sequence, helicopter battle or brutal fisticuffs. All these sequences were gorgeous, exceptionally shot and showcasing stunning locations (and camera equipment) with a soundtrack that could rival the pairing of Hans Zimmer/Dunkirk. My bladder held on simply because the visceral nature of what was happening was almost overwhelming.
As a brainless, stupid, pointless, over-the-top, unrealistic, action film – this was as good as it gets. So if that is enough for you (as it was for my wife who couldn’t understand what I was expecting to get out of a Mission Impossible film) then you are going to have an insanely stupid and enjoyable time of cartoonish proportions. Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie has made a beautifully shot, beautifully paced and beautifully directed (if over bloated) action film for all the fans of the popcorn action movie and has even thrown in a few chuckles (courtesy of Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) along the way.
If your expectations of modern action films is to have a well-written script that doesn’t rely on cheap twists that you can figure out if you have merely seen a trailer for any Mission Impossible film, dialogue that sounds like actual conversations rather than badass catch phrases, investable characters instead of boring, vapid characters and a level of tension where you actually believe, even for a moment, that things might not work out impeccably for the lead character, then change your expectations before seeing this if you want to actually enjoy it. This film’s intentions aren’t to provide any of the above qualities so it would be remiss for me to suggest that it failed on delivering any of things it promised.
For me, personally, although it delivered everything it promised it’s audience, it didn’t provide anything more. It was every other Mission Impossible movie with a bigger budget and better technology. This in no way makes the film unsuccessful but it poses the question – why? Why would I pay money to see the next installment of a film franchise that we can’t expect anything more from than what it has already competently delivered? Good film making takes the audience’s expectations and the promises made by the trailer and ups the ante. I want to leave a movie still feeling connected to it. Fallout is a theme park ride that once it is finished you would recommend it to your friends for a buzz but you wouldn’t line up again to ride it because there are another 10 rides that will more or less provide the exact same buzz – so you just move on and in a year’s time you won’t even remember this ride at all – you will just be hoping something better gets built. Alright, enough theme park metaphors.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is a successful action film. So before you feel that I am being unnecessarily judgmental of what is essentially pretty pictures and loud noises let me say again that this film succeeds in providing everything it promises and if that is what you want from a movie then you will leave with your expectations completely met. Just don’t expect them to be exceeded.
– Ashton Brown