With 2015’s Rogue Nation already under his belt, Christopher McQuarrie brings a laser focus to this sixth film in the franchise as writer, producer, and director of this well-oiled machine, arguably the greatest entry into the franchise to date. Mission: Impossible – Fallout provides the latest, and most compelling piece of evidence that this franchise is one that only gets more comfortable with age – and not even a broken ankle can stop it from sinking confidently into its own shoes. Perhaps comfortable is the wrong word, because although the film operates so seamlessly – you can practically see the cast and crew working away like ants – the film’s polish does nothing to detract from its sense of tension and thrill.
Because its vision is so singular, the film’s defining quality is this sharpness, meaning that in spite of its 146 minute run time it practically never sags. Not only this, but the film’s self-assuredness allows for humorous reprieve, without feeling forced or contrived. Situational Dramaturgy – the concept of plot devices, or ‘situations’, that its characters must escape from (the chase, the face-off, or the hostage situation) is a staple of the genre, but Mission Impossible’s latest instalment is so successful because it takes these classic situations and finds ways to make them fresh. In fact, by embracing their clichéd nature, McQuarrie is able to integrate them more seamlessly into the plot; they become the film’s very fabric, as opposed to mere set-pieces.
“The result is a film which feels fully committed to one purpose: to entertain”
The flow of the narrative is so smooth that you may not even notice one sequence giving way to another. The result is a film which feels fully committed to one purpose: to entertain (OK, perhaps two purposes – Fallout has grossed $438m worldwide at the time of writing, despite an $80m loss during the time it took Cruise’s ankle to heal – the cast still had to be paid). Crucially, the film would not be able to entertain so easily had its director not been so competent. The film is also impeccably edited: action sequences that could confuse in the hands of another are cogent because of their well thought-out spatial geography. Never are we unsure about the locale or allegiance of our characters, and if we are, it is all done in aid of a broader purpose.
A nice reprieve to the film’s characteristic sleekness is its incorporation of Hunt’s raison d’être, which bookends the film without becoming overly saccharine. Though it is difficult to see Tom Cruise as anyone other than Tom Cruise – his celebrity out-spans the franchise at this point – Fallout nonetheless is aware of its own humanity, an essential tenet in a film as well-balanced as this one. Perhaps the most gratifying element of this entry, though, is the way it bucks the trend of universe-building by creating a film that, while still serialised and placed within a broader story context, can be enjoyed in and of itself. This is a franchise that really grows into itself, instead of growing tired of itself, as one might expect; the result is a slice of entertainment that is fresh, innovative and – most importantly of all – deeply fun to watch.