Movie review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ is a perfect late summer shot of adrenaline

Last fall, fans had plenty to say about Superman’s now infamous CGI upper lip in “Justice League.” To summarize, the actor playing Superman, Henry Cavill, was called back for reshoots, but at the time he was also working on “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” for which he had grown a mustache. The “Mission: Impossible” crew wouldn’t let him shave said mustache, so it had to be digitally erased in “Justice League.” The CGI work was, well, more than a bit obvious, and was endlessly analyzed/joked about on social media.

So, now this brings us to the burning question of the summer: having seen “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” in theaters this past weekend, was “mustache-gate” worth it? The answer is yes — most definitely yes. All kidding aside, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is one of the best action films I’ve seen in a long time, quite possibly the best in the franchise.

Mission: Impossible is one of those rare franchises that actually seems to get better and better as it goes along. Usually one would think the sixth sequel to a film would start getting a bit tired or stale, but that certainly isn’t the case for “Fallout.” Although the basic plots may stay the same — agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) gets into trouble, the government (sort of) disavows him, and then he saves the day at the last minute — somehow this franchise manages to stay fresh, thrilling, and relevant.

I actually don’t want to go into any real detail about the plot here, because so much of the fun of watching this film comes from not knowing what to expect. Going in, all I knew about the film was what I had seen from the trailers, which definitely sold me on the movie.

Although we’ve all seen fist fights, car chases, and spies parachuting out of airplanes before, it still feels exciting and new here. There’s something special about a film packed with real stunt work and not just CGI, even though I do love a good CGI spectacle. And say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he always brings his A-game to these movies.

“Fallout” may arguably be the most “James Bond” of the “Mission: Impossible” films. I heard one commenter in an online forum call “Fallout” something along the lines of, “darker but not oppressively so,” and I think that’s an apt statement. “Fallout” feels a little more serious at times, forcing Ethan to question his ethical guidelines as a spy. The soundtrack is a bit grimmer too, and the music adds a certain gravitas to the events. And there’s so many layers of plot twists that I feel like I need to see the movie again to sort out who was planning what, and who was allied with whom, at what time. I got hoodwinked several times by Hunt and his crew’s cover-ups (there’s a fantastic bait and switch towards the beginning of the film, but I’ll say no more — spoilers!).

Another thing I respect about Cruise is that even though he’s the main star in this film, he’s willing to step out of the way and let all the other characters have their moments to shine. Of course, it’s always great to see Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg returning as their characters, Luther and Benji, respectively. I’m also glad Rebecca Ferguson returned as MI6 agent Ilsa. As a female film fan, I always appreciate seeing a female character in an action film who’s actually given something to do and isn’t just relegated to the role of “love interest.” She fits in well as a member of Hunt’s team, and if Cruise ever gets tired of doing these movies, I’d love to see her in a spin-off series of her own.

I also thought Henry Cavill (and his famous mustache!) ? did a great job as CIA assassin August Walker. Minor spoiler alert: Cavill gets to play the villain this time, but I feel that almost isn’t a spoiler since you don’t really trust him from the moment he shows up on screen. But Cavill seems to really enjoy getting to play a darker character, and it’s fun to watch him cut loose as an actor. He and Cruise are both fully committed to the stunts in this film.

Sometimes with all the superhero and other franchise films out there, I forget about the Mission: Impossible movies. Which is sad, because this is actually one of the most reliably entertaining action franchises running today. “Fallout” is one of my favorite movies in the series so far; it might actually be my top favorite, though it’s hard to beat “Ghost Protocol.” This movie definitely needs to be seen on the big screen, and I kinda wish I’d splurged to see this in IMAX. Overall, I’d call this another “mission: accomplished.”

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