Mission: Impossible—Fallout

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie (based on the television series created by Bruce Geller)
Stars: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Henry Cavill (August Walker), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Sean Harris (Solomon Lane), Angela Bassett (Erica Sloan), Vanessa Kirby (White Widow), Michelle Monaghan (Julia Meade-Hunt), Wes Bentley (Patrick), Frederick Schmidt (Zola), Alec Baldwin (Alan Hunley), Liang Yang (Lark Decoy), Kristoffer Joner (Nils Debruuk)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2018
Country: U.S.
Mission: Impossible—Fallout 4K UHD
Mission: Impossible—Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible—Fallout is a great, unapologetic nose-dive into old-school, free-fall, red-meat action that plays as a stark reminder of why physical presence and real stunts still have the cinematic upper hand over CGI and green screens, no matter how technologically sophisticated and convincing. Helicopters play chicken through tight mountain passes in Kashmir, motorcycles careen through the streets of Paris, and star Tom Cruise hurls himself from a plane 25,000 feet in the air. The movie leaps nimbly and confidently from one massive action setpiece to the next, and each one has its own unique pleasures and tensions that build on the previous; the impossible is always made possible and always just within the realm of the believable, even as you watch in disbelief.

The joy of the Mission: Impossible franchise—which has now entered its third decade and, against all odds, keeps getting better—has always been its gall, its unwavering confidence in setting before us the utterly absurd and getting us to buy right in time and time again (the rubber masks that are often used to disguise a character’s identity being the definitive example). It is perhaps the highest praise I can give the film that one of the best sequences involves nothing more than Tom Cruise running across the rooftops of London—leaping from roof to roof, cutting across narrow ledges, leaping out of windows when necessary—in desperate pursuit of a villain who isn’t even aware that he’s running after him. The sequence works not because of aesthetic verve, but because Cruise and McQuarrie invest it with such absolute conviction. You can literally feel Cruise giving it his all—physically, emotionally—as he sprints across the frame, leaving everything on the screen.

We are now six films deep into the franchise, although the first two films, Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996) and John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II (2000), now feel like experiments in a different franchise altogether, one in which each entry would be distinctly different from the previous. Starting with J.J. Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III (2006), the series moved in a different direction, launching a long-running narrative arc and set of returning characters that more clearly bound the successive films together. While Abrams has stayed on as a producer, he handed the directorial reigns first to Brad Bird for 2011’s Ghost Protocol and then to McQuarrie for 2015’s Rogue Nation, whose storyline funnels right into Fallout, bringing back several characters introduced in that film, including the nefarious villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), whose years of imprisonment have transformed him from slick and clean-shaven to wild-eyed and bearded, which gives his involvement with a plot hatched to detonate three nuclear weapons at major sites around the world a crusading religious vibe.

Once again standing in his way is Ethan Hunt (Cruise), the aging star of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) who, while never explicitly articulating it, has clearly grown world-weary, but without losing his moral conviction and commitment to the greater good, which is what keeps him accepting all those impossible missions. The assignment that kicks off Fallout involves Hunt and his IMF colleagues Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) getting ahold of three atomic cores to keep them away from an apocalyptic group known as The Apostles. They mission goes south and they lose the cores mainly because Hunt can’t stand to lose one of his team, which doesn’t sit well with Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the head of the IMF. It sits even worse with CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett), who comes to distrust Hunt enough that she saddles him with one of her own, a tall, steely, musachioed agent named August Walker (Henry Cavill) who does not share Hunt’s distaste for direct violence.

After that, the movie is off and running around the world, with Hunt and Walker skydiving onto the glass roof of the Grand Palais in Paris and facing down a ruthless arms dealer (Liang Yang) in what has to be the world’s brightest, cleanest, whitest, most deserted men’s room. The location provides great backdrop for a vicious three-way brawl that is finally ended by Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the is-she-or-isn’t-she? double-triple-quadruple British spy who first caught Hunt’s eye in Rogue Nation. The romantic chemistry isn’t explicit, but it’s palpable, which makes it all the more difficult that Hunt and Ilsa have competing assignments that they are both willing to pursue with everything they have.

The story, written by McQuarrie, twists and turns all around, with Hunt at one point being framed as the villain before the true baddie emerges. It is punctuated throughout with action sequences that rely heavily on real stunts, real locations, and the convincing illusion that the stars are really in danger. McQuarrie has no qualms about borrowing from the greats, and old-schoolers will immediately recognize the debt owed to The French Connection (1971) in a Paris car chase and the majority of the ’70s James Bond films everywhere else. But, it works because McQuarrie sells it with little fuss and a whole lot of guts; he transforms the familiar and the formulaic into something truly pulse-pounding, especially the grand climax that finds Luther and Benji trying to disarm two nuclear weapons while Hunt pursues the villain (and a crucial key he holds) in a mountainous helicopter chase that culminates in mano-a-mano fisticuffs at the edge of, and then over the edge of, a sheer cliff. The fact that all of this supposedly transpires during a 15-minute countdown is utterly ridiculous, but it works in racheting up the tension so high and leaving you so exhausted that you’re torn between wanting an eighth installment and hoping they end it all here, at this amazing high point. It never hurts to go out on top.

Mission: Impossible—Fallout 4K UHD + Blu-ray

Aspect Ratio2.40:1
Audio
  • English Dolby Atmos
  • English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • SubtitlesEnglish, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Norwegian, Swedish
    Supplements
  • Audio commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and actor Tom Cruise.
  • Audio commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton.
  • Audio commentary by composer Lorne Balfe.
  • Isolated Score Track
  • “Light the Fuse” featurette
  • “Top of the World” featurette
  • “The Big Swing: Deleted Scene Breakdown” featurette
  • “Rendezvous in Paris” featurette
  • “The Fall” featurette
  • “The Hunt Is On” featurette
  • “Cliffside Clash” featurette
  • Deleted Scenes Montage
  • Foot Chase Musical Breakdown
  • The Ultimate Mission” featurette
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical trailer
  • DistributorParamount Home Entertainment
    Release DateDecember 4, 2018

    COMMENTS
    Mission: Impossible—Fallout looks quite stunning on Paramount’s 4K UHD. The 2160p presentation boasts both Dolby Vision and HDR10 High Dynamic Range, and the resulting image is duly impressive throughout. The film was shot natively in 8K and 6K with a 4K intermediate, with some portions being shot on 35mm film and two major sequences being shot in IMAX (on the disc, the aspect ratio changes from 2.39:1 to 1.90:1 for the IMAX sequences). The image looks great in motion (and there is a lot of motion), with fantastic detail, color, contrast, and black levels. I was particularly pleased to see how smooth and film-like the image looks despite having been shot for the most part on digital. McQuarrie and his cinematographer were clearly desiring to emulate a more classical celluloid feel, and it shows. The Dolby Atmos surround soundtrack is likewise impressive, and selecting the best sequence to show off your sound system will be a chore (I most enjoyed the helicopter chase sequence, which is deeply immersive and boasts all manner of aural panning and shifting as the helicopters fly around).

    Given that the film runs nearly two and a half hours, all of the supplements save the three audio commentaries have been gathered on a separate Blu-ray to maximize bitrate. The audio commentaries give us writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and actor Tom Cruise on one track, McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton on another, and composer Lorne Balfe on a third. We also get an isolated Dolby Digital 5.1-channel track for Balfe’s score. The extras Blu-ray opens with “Behind the Fallout,” a 53-minute, seven-part look at the film’s production that is, not surprisingly, heavy on analyzing all that went into the stuntwork: “Light the Fuse” (11 min.) gives us a general overview; “Top of the World” (11 min.) focuses on the extraordinary HALO jump sequence; “The Big Swing: Deleted Scene Breakdown” (4 min.) looks at the Paris car chase sequence; “The Fall” (6 min.) focuses on Cruise hanging and falling from the underside of a flying helicopter; “The Hunt Is On” (11 min.) gives us more on the helicopter chase and the New Zealand locations where it was filmed; “Cliffside Clash” (4 min.) looks at the climactic cliffside fight; “Foot Chase Musical Breakdown” (5 min.) allows us to listen to the individual musical components in the London foot-chase scene; and “The Ultimate Mission” (3 min.) wraps things up with Cruise talking about what makes the Mission: Impossible series special and why he keeps coming back to it. After that, we get a 4-minute deleted scenes montage with optional commentary with McQuarrie and Hamilton; hand-drawn storyboards for a number of scenes including the London foot-chase and the helicopter climax; and a theatrical trailer.

    Copyright © 2018 James Kendrick

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    All images copyright © Paramount Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (3.5)



    James Kendrick

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