Mission Impossible: Fallout. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
It took about three installments for Mission: Impossible to find the kind of movie it wanted to be. Something halfway between the European conception of action cinema developed by Brian De Palma in the first part and the waste of stylized violence by John Woo in the second. It was J.J. Abrams who found that path in the slipstream of Casino Royale and giving Ethan Hunt the start of an emotional arc that seems to end in this sixth installment.
But there is another hallmark that the saga has been developing title by title and that is imposed on the criteria of any of its directors: the idea that Mission: Impossible is not only what Ethan Hunt faces on screen, but the challenge physique that its leading actor faces in front of the camera. An actor who has built his character around the most extreme conception of risk and with the apparent commitment to excel in each installment. A madness to which we must add that Cruise has been playing Ethan Hunt for 22 years.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is, in that sense, the movie that best exemplifies that idea. Given the obvious difficulty of overcoming the milestones of previous films and this being the possible end point of the character’s emotional arc, Fallout is a climax in itself and a gymkhana that almost cost the actor his skin (who broke his leg jumping from the rooftops of Paris).
Cruise marks three tremendous set pieces in which, in addition to saving the world once again, he seems to desperately want to escape old age with what is possibly the longest sprint of his career.
What a way to run. It’s my birthday and I rot with the same speed as some cheap strawberries in the fridge. Tom Cruise runs at 56 years older than I did when he was 17. He’s David the fucking Gnome but life size. It seems that in every scene where his skin is on the line he is thinking “Jackie Chan, eat my balls”. I want to take from what they give you in Scientology. Every time I am aware of this reality, I would cry while I gobble down a giant bag of Jumpers. But I’m not crying, I’m just eating the Jumpers, because I had a good time.
Cruise is not alone in this feat. Christopher McQuarrie accompanies him for the third time in his career and for the second time in this saga. He is the only director who has repeated in the franchise creating his particular diptych and facing this delivery from behind the camera with the same commitment as his protagonist. McQuarrie remains faithful to the idea of shooting as much as possible in a real way, with the bare minimum of CGI. A very wise decision considering that Cruise is the best special effect that an action film director can have today.
McQuarrie measures the times of a film very well in which, in its first half, he prepares the pieces on the board and takes advantage of all the secondary characters, and in the second, he definitely throws himself into the show. He composes the action focused on immersing the viewer as much as possible in the skin of the Hunt. His way of doing it is to stick close to the actor and lengthen the duration of the shots whenever possible, something that we already saw in Jack Reacher’s car chase and that works great.
It is true that in that final stretch the film slightly wastes one of the best villains of the franchise and the only one that has had continuity in two installments, here relegated to a more secondary place. Also the female characters, emotional anchor of the protagonist, are a mere excuse to enhance the risks that Hunt assumes. And we are talking about a film that places special emphasis on the humanity of the character as his main weakness and his main virtue, the source of his remorse and also what encourages him to continue fighting. But when it comes down to it, there isn’t much ground, they are things that serve to dress up the real background of the film: this is, more than ever, a movie of Tom Cruise doing the goat. An idea that everyone has very clear.
Fallout is a history-making slam dunk contest. It is made to leave us speechless and to vindicate, in times of superheroes and digital shows, the last great action movie star that remains to us.