#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Christopher McQuarrie

July 27, 2018
MIF

The Mission: Impossible series has gone from a gauzy star vehicle to a very referendum on said star as (to quote a character from the last movie) the “living manifestation of destiny.” The highlight of the first film was a guy hanging from the ceiling. The latest one, Fallout, is an absolutely relentless series of lengthy, extraordinary setpieces loaded with insane stunts, shock beats, masks being ripped off, last-minute reveals, double crosses, and did I mention the insane stunts? There are more than a handful of them, from riding a motorcycle in cross traffic around the Arc de Triomphe, to flying a chopper into a plummeting death spiral, to simply throwing a man through a massive bathroom mirror. It’s the most satisfying version of itself, and for the action film lover/reptile brain, a thing of crystalline beauty.

There’s been a lot of talk about Cruise as a consummate showman who will go to any lengths to entertain his audience. That’s never been more true than in this film, which uses a typically convoluted but still somehow threadbare plot as a clothesline for it’s no-less-than-five massive, impeccably constructed action sequences. William Witney, the great director of Republic serials, and who in many ways invented the American action movie, wrote an autobiography called In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase. You might as well call this movie In a Mask, Out of a Plane, Over a Building, on a Motorcycle, in a Helicopter, Over a Cliff.

It’s easy to be glib about it and have a nice laugh about the Tom Cruise show, how crazy it is, that he’ll probably kill himself making one of these one day, har har. But that’s simply not appreciating what a tremendous physical and mental effort these films must demand of him. It’s one of the greatest filmed performances of the year, if not ever.

There simply hasn’t been precedent for the kind of behavior on display here since something like Buster Keaton letting a house fall on him in Steamboat Bill Jr, or Harold Lloyd dangling from the clock tower in Safety Last. And it isn’t just the sheer suicidal audacity of piloting a helicopter through a narrow canyon to give the audience a jolt. Cruise is flying that helicopter while also operating the camera (so he can keep the other helicopter, the one he’s chasing, in the frame) and delivering his dialogue and, you know, acting, at the same time. It’s easy to be glib about it and have a nice laugh about the Tom Cruise show, how crazy it is, that he’ll probably kill himself making one of these one day, har har. But that’s simply not appreciating what a tremendous physical and mental effort these films must demand of him. It’s one of the greatest filmed performances of the year, if not ever.

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