Mission Impossible:  Fallout

 

            You know you're in for a complicated story when you realize you have to pay attention to Ethan's instructions that self-destruct after five seconds.

            Yes, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back again, with his Impossible Mission Force, which is not quite recognized by the U.S. government, just in case, you know, everything goes south, and they have to disavow all knowledge.

            Well, things go south pretty quickly here.  Ethan is forced to work with a new guy, August Walker (Henry Cavill), whom he's not sure he trusts.  (And Ethan's instincts are usually right.)

Ethan's two partners, the Mutt-and-Jeff team of Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) are still loyal, but Ethan has reasons to worry about everyone else, because the bad guys seem to know their every move.  And the bad guys, interestingly, are not terrorists, per se, but are actually anarchists, who believe that a lot of destruction and chaos will re-set the world's power structure, which will inevitably make things better.  (Of course, they are counting themselves among the chosen survivors.)

            The plot, of course, is just an excuse for all the spectacular stunts.  We have chase scenes in automobiles and motorcycles and helicopters.  Close-quarter fights in bathroom stalls.  Shoot-em-ups in back alleys.  Panic on the crowded dance floor of a glitzy techno night club.  Oh, and we have some nice deception, with our intrepid heroes pulling off the mask a couple of times to fool people into thinking they were somebody else.  There's a little hint of romance, in the person of the MI6 agent, Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), whose orders aren't always in sync with the home team.  But she's useful in a street fight.  Then there are the dream sequences of Ethan's, which foreshadow a hearkening back to an earlier romance, that just might have repurcussions later.  And just to add another layer of intrigue, Ethan finds out that maybe the Boss doesn't have his back, after all.

            At the end, the plot coalesces into a race for time to defuse a nuclear device, but even that is wrapped up in more fight and flight sequences.  We'll catch our breath during the credits.  Sure, it's unrealistic to expect such superhuman qualities in a little team of anonymous secret agents, tirelessly protecting us from unknown evils out there.  But it's a cozy and comforting thought to entertain, in the safe confines of a likeable, action-packed movie.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association