Mission: Impossible - Fallout ★★★★½

Exhilarating old-school action — as much as you'd find in a supercut of the action scenes in the first three Indiana Jones movies!

Christopher McQuarrie appears to be auditioning to claim the throne as the New Master of American Action Filmmaking (I specify American because, well... George Miller), and I'm not sure he has a strong competitor working today.

Cruise is in superhuman form—as usual. Cavill is strong, too. Great to see Rhames getting so much screen time. Ferguson looks poised to take the franchise over if anything happens to Cruise (which won't happen). Pegg draws the short straw here; the severity of the tone here chokes out his signature comic relief. Baldwin and Bassett give sturdy support.

And—it has to be said—this is the second film to prominently feature Baldwin in scenes about having (or losing) brass balls.

This is the first action film in a long time that I find myself eager to see several times on the big screen.

And yet, Ethan Hunt remains vastly inferior to Indiana Jones because he's too perfect an action hero. Indy had action-hero moves, but his reach always exceeded his grasp, he makes costly mistakes, and he is always humbled in the end, as his movies end up being about something Greater than himself. The M:I movies end up being about the glory of Ethan. In that sense, he's seems like a character that Tom Cruise, given what we know about him, has invented as his ideal self.

I’m uncomfortable anymore with casts of characters who all end up admiring and revering a Superior White Male American as a supreme being. And there's too much of that here. Just listen to Ving Rhames's misty-eyed adoration near the end—it bothers me.

But still, wow... this is a relentlessly impressive and sometimes astonishing exhibition of real stunts, breathtaking editing and action choreography, clever reversals and double-crosses, and propulsive music.

And it has one of the best car/truck/motorcycle chases ever, as if McQuarrie watched a supercut of all of those fantastic Bourne franchise chases and said, "Here, hold my bulletproof coffee."

P.S.

Did anybody else spot the most intriguing Unheard Whisper since Lost in Translation? It happens right at the end. I'm going to be awake tonight wondering what Ilsa Faust really said.

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