Mission: Impossible Fallout is not revolutionary, nor does it take the (nearly) 20 year franchise in a bold new direction. It isn't a reinvention of the series, but neither is it a step back. It's a distillation. Where Fallout largely lacks in surprise and shock factor, it more than makes up for in its execution and attention to detail.
For a film series that, given its financial earnings to date, probably shouldn't still exist, Fallout manages to still carry on with a sense of style and posture that at least masquerades itself as a Grade A blockbuster. During a period in which James Bond is on hiatus and the Fast and Furious montage of movies is in the midst of cranking out its next bi-annual update, Mission: Impossible fills the void of having both an easy-to-digest experience, as well as one that has the emotional punch to make it feel worthwhile.
Series regulars Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are once again tasked with unprecedented assignments larger and more devastating than anything they've faced yet. Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin also make welcomed returns as the bulk of the supporting cast, and Michelle Monaghan makes a worthwhile appearance after going on hiatus for the last few films. Newcomer Henry Cavill, expectedly, brings the muscle and proves to be a stout force to be dealt with. Previously hamstrung by poorly written DC roles, Cavill feels right at home in a role more akin to fist fights and tense brawls over that of CG mishaps.
At the very least, I expected Fallout to range anywhere from serviceable to good, but not great. I feel like it's this exact understanding of the audience's expectations that allows the film to excel. We know that the film is going to bring some sort of combination of car chases, gun fights and death-defying jumps, so instead of veering sharply away from that for sake of surprise alone, Fallout tackles them head as if to prove that refinement can be every bit as entertaining as the element of surprise. It's absolutely a "safe" movie, and could even be called cookie-cutter by the series' latest entries. But if they've been churning out good cookies, then why not continue to build on that same recipe?
Mission: Impossible Fallout has an astute eye for what the series represents at its very best, and keeps those trends going in glorious fashion. Save for a bit of hamfisted opening exposition and a long runtime that could've shaved off thirty minutes, once the film hits its stride (early on), it's an action-packed ride the rest of the way. Tom Cruise continues to anchor the franchise and develop the character of Ethan Hunt in ways that keeps the audience yearning for the next series installment. The way that Hunt operates his team is as humorous as it is precise. There's a strong sense throughout that the cast is well-aware of the ridiculous antics that've preceded this latest entry, and it's refreshing to see them take a breather to poke fun at it. The film has just the right amount of wide open set pieces to set the scene, as well as a knack for getting in claustrophobically close to keep the action tightly knit.
Fallout is a prime example of what summer blockbusters can, and should be. It's a thrilling and fun ride that doesn't skimp on meaningful character interactions in between the bullets and explosions. There's a lot to be had, and although every single bit of it as an entire package can feel slightly long in the tooth, you'd be hard pressed to leave the theater remembering anything aside from its very best moments.
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; potentially warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.