You should have killed me, Ethan.
Another day, another breathtaking Mission Impossible movie. At this point, there’s not much to say about this franchise. Once Ghost Protocol came along, it’s basically a fore-gone conclusion that the new Mission: Impossible movie is going to be one of the best action movies you’ve ever seen and McQuarrie and Cruise have delivered on that again. I think, at the end of the day, I still say they haven’t topped Ghost Protocol, but this one is, yet again, truly superlatively thrilling. This film, unlike most of the others, tries to have some level of continuity beyond just the recurring elements of Ethan and his team. They bring back Sean Harris from Rogue Nation and that’s one of the smartest things the franchise has ever done; Harris is, I’d say, easily the best villain of the series, certainly the scariest and he’s at the top of his game here. Likewise, they try to reconnect to Ethan’s old life with Michelle Monaghan turning up as his ex-wife and it seems like a lot of people really liked this and thought it brought depth to the character. Whatever. I don’t care really. At this point, Ethan Hunt has the only real character trait that I need from him: he won’t give up, no matter how ridiculous he has to be to keep going. It’s the action that sells in these movies and things go great in that arena. Henry Cavill is on hand and, by the way, what’s with spoiling from what seems like the very first announcement that he was in the movie that his character was going to turn out to be a villain? Anyway, that aside, the best action sequence of the bunch is an absolutely ludicrous bathroom brawl where both Cruise and Cavill get their asses kicked by one skilled martial artist. Once again, I have to give it to Cruise (and Cavill too) that he’s never been afraid to get thrills and laughs out of his characters failing. A lot of action super-stars essentially have it in their contracts that they can’t lose a fight, but Cruise isn’t afraid to have an action sequence where he loses even when he’s got Superman himself as a tag team partner. Gotta love that ****. Other action sequences, like a couple of lengthy chase scenes, also really, really work. It’s a fun movie, at the end of the day, and that’s what I want from a Mission: Impossible movie. I understand why some people find their enjoyment curtailed because Hunt is a flat character; but the set pieces here are so grand and the machinery so well-oiled that I think these movies reach a level of action movie transcendence. Fallout is the next in that grand tradition. 4 stars.
tl;dr – transcendent action elevates this movie into the stratosphere of pure entertainment; a slight focus on character history kind of works and kind of doesn’t, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. 4 stars.