Performance Artistry

Performance Artistry

Tom Cruise returns for a sixth outing as IMF spy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible Fallout. For a film franchise inspired by a 1960s television show, this action-adventure series has proved surprisingly durable. Each film – until now anyway – has come with a new director willing to change style and approach. While all stand-alone stories, the films have also grown in both boldness and in the integral characters revolving around Hunt.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Fallout feels like a second part of McQuarrie’s earlier 2015 entry, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which is perhaps why Cruise invited him back to become the first director to helm two in the series. In many ways, McQuarrie has taken a leaf out of the novelistic-style narratives peddled so frequently in television now, dipping back into earlier episodes, retrieving familiar characters for a bigger emotional payoff.

The plot sees Hunt on the search for three missing plutonium spheres, a quest that brings him back into contact with Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the terrorist he apprehended at the end of Rogue Nation. Teaming up with his usual crew – the loyal Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) – he is forced to make contact with an enigmatic broker named The White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who instructs him to break Lane out of prison in exchange for the plutonium.

This is just the start of a circuitous story bouncing between London, Paris and Kashmir that also sees Hunt kept under the watchful eye of the CIA – both Angela Bassett’s ball-busting director and her human Rottweiler, August Walker (Henry Cavill, in a fine turnaround from his Superman persona). There’s even time for Hunt to enjoy reunions with both Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Rogue Nation’s spy who loved him, and Julia (Michelle Monaghan), his one-time partner last seen at the end of MI:3.

Beyond this, McQuarrie delivers a stupendous action film that relies on the derring-do of his leading man. While past episodes have seen Cruise perform one outrageous stand-out stunt, Fallout sees him involved in three: a midair parachute rescue, a bike chase through Paris and an insane helicopter pursuit. It’s visceral and adrenaline-fuelled, even if the (not exactly original) finale does rather come down to Hunt and co. trying to diffuse a couple of bombs. For sheer summer popcorn pleasure, though, this film is hard to beat.

Mission: Impossible Fallout opens on 25 July. For more details, click here.

James Mottram

1. Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Fallout.