Much has been made across the interwebs that Tom Cruise, at age 56, is older in Mission: Impossible – Fallout than Wilford Brimley was in 1986’s Cocoon. While we’re at it, Cruise was also older than Cocoon Brimley when he made 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow… not to mention 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. But heck, Brimley has looked ancient throughout his career. Rewatch 1979’s The China Syndrome; Brimley looked like he was already carrying an AARP card, and he was only 45 at the time.
But I digress.
The point is—Cruise is admittedly getting up there in years, but after watching Fallout, I’m convinced the dude may in fact be getting better with age. The M:Iseries itself certainly is; it’s the only franchise I know of whose installments have each topped the predecessor’s Rotten Tomatoes score, five films in a row.
Picking up two years after the events of Rogue Nation, Fallout begins with a prologue explaining how, in the wake of the capture of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the nefarious (and now leaderless) Syndicate has rebranded itself as The Apostles—a cadre of bad guys who do bad things for the highest bidder.
Their latest client is the mysterious John Lark, who is in the market for some plutonium, because, you know, bombs. But before Ethan Hunt (Cruise) can gather his IMF team to stop the sale, CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) steps in, threatening to kill the mission unless her best agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) can go along for the ride.
Hunt and Walker parachute into Paris (in the film’s most ambitious stunt—a real-time, single-shot HALO jump from 25,000 feet) to meet with the so-called White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who is brokering the deal.
There’s much more to the plot, of course, but it never gets too complex for its own good. And besides, we’re here for the action sequences anyway. And, whew, does Fallout deliver. Throughout the course of the film’s 2:27 runtime, the setting shifts from Belfast to Berlin to Paris to London to Kashmir, and the audience is allowed little more than a few minutes at a time to catch its collective breath. From foot chases to motorcycle chases to car chases, Fallout keeps it coming, climaxing with an epic helicopter chase through the Norwegian mountains (standing in for Kashmir).
But beyond all that, the script, which returning director Christopher McQuarrie wrote himself, provides no shortage of twists and turns and betrayals and surprises (and a nice helping of comedy). Along with holding onto your armrest for dear life, you’ll also find yourself constantly trying to figure out who is stringing who along. McQuarrie does a whiz-bang job of providing anything but a standard action film. Even with the trusty ol’ ticking-bomb countdown that dominates the third act, you’ll leave the theater feeling as though you haven’t seen a film as fresh and inventive in a long time.
Cruise may well be pushing 60 when the next installment hits theaters (plans are already in motion)—making him older than Brimley was in 1994’s The Firm (co-starring Cruise). And if the past is any indicator, it won’t matter a damn bit.