Mission: Impossible–Fallout (2018)
D: Christopher McQuarrie
The first thing you can’t help noticing about the sixth installment of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise, is something that was still possible to ignore when the fifth installment was released in 2015. Cruise is no longer boyish.
I spent almost the entirety of Mission: Impossible–Fallout, trying to decide whether he needed this quality to still pull off Ethan Hunt…or anything else that makes him TOM CRUISE.
I enjoyed the movie, as I’ve enjoyed most of them (Tom Cruise movies, generally, and MI movies in particular). But I never did make up my mind.
Let’s just say that, in the future, I hope he’ll settle for having one woman swoon over him instead of three, and I hope against hope that the one woman will be Vanessa Kirby, who injects this installment with a dose of good old fashioned sex-for-its-own-sake like I haven’t seen in an action franchise since Caroline Munro undressed Roger Moore with a lewd wink in The Spy Who Love Me, 1977’s James Bond installment while she was trying to blow him out of the water from her little helicopter.
Bond being Bond and Moore being Moore, that couldn’t have lasted, even if the plot hadn’t demanded that he blow her out of the sky the next minute.
But Kirby’s character survived this round and I can only hope Cruise will have the good sense to bring her back.
Because, otherwise, this is just more of the same. If you liked the other installments, especially four and/or five–I did–you’ll like this one–I did.
Hollywood has been in the business of helping the remnants of the larger culture (and the political economy) stop time since Cruise himself became a bona fide star. He’s been a big part of the process, too (I almost called it a ride, but that implies motion and motion would defeat the point of a Frozen Silence). The fun part, too, I’d say. And, not counting John Wayne in the after life, Cruise has has been a mega-star for as long as anyone ever has. Risky Business was released in 1983, when he was 21. By the early box office on MI6, he’s still going strong.
But it is coming to an end. Even Tom Cruise can’t stay a boy forever.
The acting part has never held him back. He’s been better than good in any number of serious projects going back to Rain Man. But his mega-stardom depends on movies like this so his success going forward will, I think, depend on his choice of co-stars, especially female leads.
My advice: Ditch the sensitive babes and build the next one around Kirby’s character. I think she was on the side of the angels in this one when it all came out in the wash (it’s Mission: Impossible so I don’t like to commit myself to these things). But either way, she could keep the fire burning for at least two more Missions Impossible.
The only other new or interesting thing here (and I wasn’t expecting or wanting anything new from a franchise that’s been this satisfying so I’m just making a point of order) is Angela Bassett as the big cheese at CIA (and thus the overseer of Cruise’s team, which is the kind of pure and righteous unit operating inside the decidedly impure and untrustworthy “real” CIA these sorts of movies are designed to make us believe can’t be all bad).
Bassett’s a fine, underused actress. In perhaps not unrelated news, she’s also black.
Since she’s the face of the CIA here, in a franchise where the head of Ethan Hunt’s own special unit is never above suspicion, she’s really not above suspicion. Unless maybe you start asking yourself–I did–whether the handlers of a billion-dollar Hollywood franchise, including Tom Cruise, would ever elevate a black actress to the rough equivalent of M in the James Bond universe….and then have her turn out to be a villain?
My guess was not. I’ll let you watch the movie to find out if I was right or wrong, and add that it’s just possible Black America, having endured being always the villain, always the sidekick, always the comic relief, have now entered a period where they must carry the added burden of presumed heroism–without having necessarily shed those other stereotypes.
I don’t actually count this progress. But your tastes may vary.
Meanwhile, have fun. Just try to catch the matinee or wait for it to arrive in your neighborhood’s cheap, second run theater. I made the mistake of going on the opening weekend during prime time. If I told you how much I paid I’d have to shoot myself in the head. Else put on one of those MI masks so no one could ever recognize me.