As you might know by now, I’m a big fan of the Mission: Impossible franchise. It lays close to my heart for multiple reasons, so the sole idea of a new installment had me excited, but it supposedly being one of the best action films in years and the best film in the series, made me even more thrilled to see it as soon as possible. So I did, and I loved every second of it. It’s really what they make it out to be, and here’s me trying to explain why I love it as much as I do. If you don’t want to read someone gush over something that’s already been praised to death, I recommend you not read the following.
First things first: the editing. I already thought that the pacing of Rogue Nation was excellent, but somehow, McQuarrie managed to outdo himself. The film has a two and a half hour runtime, but it never drags for one bit. McQuarrie really knows how to pace an action film. The editing as a whole was absolutely fantastic. McQuarrie made scenes flow over into each other fluidly with the use of creative transitions. He edits his film in service of the plot, due to which you’ll never be bored. There’s constantly a new and refreshing action scene taking place that’s always wonderfully choreographed and filmed, which brings me to my next major plus: the action.
It was wonderful. Mission: Impossible Fallout probably has the most impressive stunt work I’ve ever seen on film. The action set pieces were grandiose and different from the one coming before, and with every change of set piece, the stakes went up, giving the film that constant sense of consequence and that constant thrill. During these action set pieces, phenomenal stunts are performed, of which Tom Cruise did practically everything on his own. The stunts he performs are breathtaking and absolutely spectacular. The fact that he does them on his own makes the film feel very grounded and realistic, and it gives the film some weight. Every set piece is unique and brings something different to the table. They all drive the plot forward, rather than just exist for popcorn entertainment.
When the action sequences aren’t driving the plot forward, we get to know these characters in moments of chaos due to the things they do. I really liked how they developed the characters in a more subtle way like that, but also have “real talk” moments, ironically as a breather from all the action. Humor was also often used as a short little pause between the action and it always worked. All of the humor was funny, well-timed, charming and they never push them down your throat. It always comes at the right moment, to make the next scene feel even more intense, but also so that you can catch a breath from all the action; like I’ve said McQuarrie knows how to pace a film. He often sticks in a quiet moment in his action sequences to make the thing that’ll follow more powerful and it’s always effective.
The choreography in these action scenes was also very impressive and they were always filmed clearly. Everything’s always visible and you’re able to easily follow what’s going on. The fighting felt real, rather than rehearsed, which points to excellent choreography. It’s grounded and well filmed with wide shots so that you can really take in everything that’s happening. The fighting styles of Walker and Hunt were designed in a way so that we already got to know them a bit, solely based on the way they fought. Walker has a very brusque and heavy-handed manner of fighting; he resembles more of a boxer, while Hunt has a more gentle approach to things.
The film’s also a near technical masterpiece. That might be pretty hyperbolic, but all I’m trying to say was that it’s really well done. It feels like the Dunkirk of this year, in that respect. The sound design was excellent, for example. The gunshots sounded like gunshots; they were loud and hard-hitting and scary. Same goes for the punches. Every sound in this film was intricately designed to fit with the object it belonged to and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nominated for an Oscar.
The soundtrack too was absolutely fantastic and quite similar to Dunkirk in its usage of unusual instruments, which might be because Lorne Balfe also worked on that score. It’s got some of the same songs of the original soundtrack, but they’re revisited and new songs were added as well, together with new instruments that made for interesting pieces of music, that on their turn were able to slowly crank up the tension. It sounds incredible in an IMAX theater and it makes the film the more immersive. Even with such an incredibly composed score, McQuarrie did know when not to use it, like at the car chase scene for example, where ambient noises where enough to make the very real maneuvers and dodges feel intense.
It’s a very satisfying film sound wise, but also visually. There are some clever framing choices that tell us more than they might seem to say at first glance. The lighting resembled how they used to light early noir films, and it often made for some really nice looking shots. The scenes shot on IMAX evidently looked incredible as well. There’s just something about real stunts performed in front of IMAX camera’s that makes them feel even more real. This effect was also achieved by always having the camera on the helicopter, for example, and by never having impossible camera movements or shots, so that it always felt like Tom Cruise was really flying a helicopter around. They were able to blend these scenes seamlessly with the scenes shot on film, though there’s a notable lack of film grain on scenes shot on IMAX. It’s also pretty impressive what they managed to do with them; film Tom Cruise jumping out of an airplane, performing stunts on his way, all in one take. It really made me wonder: “how did they shoot that?”. Well, turns out they shot it like this:
On a slightly less related note, McQuarrie also really shows his love for the franchise, his actors’ previous work, and film in general. I spotted references to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., A Few Good Men, The Dark Knight, and all of the previous Mission Impossible films. It’s always nice to see that the filmmaker really respects the franchise and shows love for his craft.
The plot was also excellent. It had twists and turns and it felt very similar to the plot of the first film, in the sense that you had to constantly pay attention to be able to follow the story. Due to that, I also felt like it had one of the better storylines of the series. It’ll constantly surprise you and keep you entertained. It’s cleverly constructed and it’ll have you fooled each time it takes a turn. The way the story progresses, makes it feel like everything has an impact, anyone can die. People die, and you can never predict when or how it’s going to happen, or if they really die and if it wasn’t an elaborate twist. The villain too was way better than he was in the previous 2 films, but that wouldn’t’ have been the case if he didn’t already have a history with Hunt, set up by the previous film. It’s also for one of the first times that I really felt like the previous installments had had an effect on each other. It’s nice seeing some continuity throughout the series. It took elements from the previous installments and adds to them, which makes this the perfect sequel; it can stand both on its own, but also fits in with the series. It gives us a more developed Hunt and it develops him and his team dynamics even more.
The dialogue too was really good. It was clever and witty. Even though it’s a pretty serious film, with some serious character development, there were enough moments where the film took the time to laugh at how ridiculous it was being.
Sure, the film doesn’t explore deeper themes, nor does it have a political statement to make, but that’s never what the Mission Impossible franchise was trying to do. They’re films with excellent action set pieces, complicated storylines, and fun characters. They’re just trying to be fun, and that’s exactly what Fallout was, and even more. The soundtrack was gorgeous and so was the cinematography. The pacing was perfect, the stunt work is some of the best in years, the villain was more refined than in the previous films, and they even developed the characters some more. It took everything that worked in the previous films and added to it. I really love this film. It’s currently my favorite film of 2018, and certainly one of the better action films of the past few years. It’s the perfect Mission Impossible film.