'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' burst onto the scene this weekend, rejuvenating what had been a mostly baron summer of action-blockbusters. Sure, we had 'Equalizer 2' and 'Skyscraper,' but those were both meh. Thankfully, this film is far better than meh. Actually, it's excellent.
Its excellence comes from a commitment to the craft. Normally, three months of intensive training are required for someone to qualify for a helicopter pilot's license. Tom Cruise, in preparation for this film, did it in half that time. How? By training 16 hours a day, seven days a week. He did all this for one action sequence. That's the level of commitment to the craft that went into this movie.
Each grand set piece (all of which are glorious) fills the frame just right. Very little CGI is used, which makes everything look real because it is real. We aren't watching a contrived creation of what is supposed to look like Tom Cruise zipping through town on a motorcycle-he's actually zipping through town on a motorcycle. And that helicopter pilot training? That paid off in a big way. It delivered what is one of the best, most intense action sequences in years.
Each scene flows smoothly into the next, rarely pausing to catch its breath. It brings to mind memories of 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' which featured a similarly breakneck pace and continuous propulsion. Fallout's action doesn't quite reach that level, but the feel is certainly similar.
I've waited this long to mention the plot because I hardly considered it essential, which might sound weird or as though it's a detriment (it's not). There is a lot to know and also very little know. Early scenes feature some rather extensive exposition. The density and length of these conversations may cause some viewers' minds to wander-that's okay.
While the dialogue is crisp and the details are helpful for better understanding the plot, all viewers really need to understand is that a group of terrorists called The Apostles want to wreak havoc, and it's Ethan Hunt's mission to stop them. Basically, he and his team need to save the world.
There's nothing wrong with action taking center stage over the story in this case. After all, this is an action movie. The minute reasons why something is happening become less important when what is happening is so masterfully executed and thrilling to watch.
The camera whirls majestically around each chase sequence, and the fight scenes pop off the screen. They're brutal, well-shot and coherent, which is not always the case with big budget action films. The violence feels real, as do the consequences. I know jaw-dropping is a bit of a cliché description to use, but these fight scenes (and a few additional action sequences) literally made my jaw drop.
And of course, in between the fights, we receive a hefty dose of Tom Cruise running really fast. He's one of the all-time best movie runners. Tremendous intensity. Beautiful form.
Cruise is exceptional. This franchise would crumble without him. Ving Rhames, who has been at Cruise's side for all six 'M:I' films, is a steadying presence once again. Simon Pegg provides his usual comic relief, and Henry Cavill steps in as a younger, stronger super-spy, to remind us that Cruise can't do this forever.
Overall, this is an exceptionally satisfying movie-going experience. It's one of the best films of the year and one that will stick with you well after leaving the theater.