Originally from Michigan but educated in the south by the Savannah College of Art and Design, Jacob Ethington is a playwright and screenwriter who's always willing to relocate if necessary. Excerpts of his work are available to read on this site along with blog posts about media that he loves.

"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (2018) Review

"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (2018) Review

This is the first Mission: Impossible movie I've seen from start to finish.

I've caught bits and pieces of the previous movies on various TV channels over the years, but Mission: Impossible is one of my biggest movie franchise blindspots.

That's one of the things that ended up impressing me the most about Mission: Impossible - Fallout though. Despite being only vaguely familiar with the previous films in the broadest of possible strokes, I still had an absolute blast watching it and found that I didn't have a hard time following it at all. I'm sure long time fans will find a lot to love here, but I'm putting this aside up front for people who've been on the fence about the franchise over the years.

This is the time to hop on board folks.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is nothing short of one of the absolute best action movies of the past ten years and a legitimate contender for one of 2018's best films. At the very least, it's the best blockbuster action film I've seen so far this year and you have to see this beast in IMAX to believe just how truly bonkers it gets.

Since this is a spy thriller, I'll be as vague as possible about the plot, mostly because it's the kind of story with conspiracies inside of conspiracies inside of conspiracies, and so on. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his espionage team called the IMF have devastatingly bungled a mission to secure three orbs of plutonium. Not only did they lose the three orbs, but they are less than 72 hours from being turned into nuclear bombs by a shadow organization known as The Apostles. His regular team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are forced to bring along a brutal CIA Agent named August Walker (Henry Cavill) to make sure nothing goes wrong this time. But they deeper they go to get the orbs, the more it becomes clear that there are figures from Hunt's past that are going to haunt him the closer he gets to completing the mission.

To say anymore would spoil the fun, but I was stunned how often the movie managed to legitimately surprise me. I called a few of the major reveals well in advance, but one towards the beginning of the third act was so smart and shocking and perfect at instantly raising the stakes that I couldn't believe I didn't see that particular reveal coming. Even savvy spy movie fans are going to be surprised by at least one bit in this film, I guarantee it. You might correctly predict one part, but you'll miss another.

As twisty and complicated as the plot is, what's remarkable is how well it all comes together. Once you know whose playing who for information and why, the story pulls into focus with an incredible ease. To be fair, this was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the man who wrote The Usual Suspects (and the last Mission: Impossible movie). The man knows labyrinthian storytelling on the blockbuster level damn near better than anyone in Hollywood.

He also might be one of the best technical filmmakers in the game right now.

As good as the story is, the stunt work and action in this film are paralyzing to watch and the reason you should be paying an IMAX ticket for this monster. The set-pieces are on a scale and intensity that rivals the best stunts in the entire history of the spy genre. There's a sequence involving a HALO jump that evokes the kind of stunt work they only did in the 1970s James Bond films than were borderline suicidal to attempt. And that sequence happens well before the the first half is even close to done.

And then there's the last third.

Look, the movie that precedes the last third is real REAL good, but the last third is the most stressed I've been watching an action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road. To be clear, it does not top Mad Max: Fury Road in terms of gonzo action madness, but in terms of sheer intensity and awe, it's shockingly close. It takes a good summer blockbuster and elevates it to one of the best I've ever seen. I literally had stress dreams last night after watching this movie and I wasn't even the one who had to hang off of a helicopter by a rope. Which sort of brings me to the slight elephant in the room.

I know people are put off by Tom Cruise, but I have a deep respect for the fact that the guy puts everything he has into every movie he's in these days, even the bad ones. But watching him here as a stunt performer is truly unbelievable stuff and he deserves all the praise he can get, along with the stunt coordinators that made it possible. He also puts in a good performance, along with the entire main cast. The IMF team members are a lot of fun, but the big surprise here is how great Henry Cavill is. He's a brute force monster that's kind of a joy to watch in this movie and it's great to see him finally find a film that can take true advantage of his physicality and presence, especially during a brawl in a bathroom that hits The Raid-films level of brutality while barely maintaining a PG-13.

There's so much more in this movie in terms of set pieces and moments to talk about, but you just get out there and see this thing. Judging from what's left on the summer release schedule, I feel comfortable saying that this is going to be the best blockbuster you see this summer and as soon as you stop reading this, find the nearest IMAX theater, get your ticket, and enjoy.

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