One of the best action movies ever
Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018): Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
YES. After months of anticipation, the latest installment in arguably the best franchise in Hollywood right now is finally here. Mission: Impossible - Fallout further cements this unlikely franchise at the top of the over-saturated mountain of existing Hollywood IP, and further cements the franchise's place as the undisputed king of the action genre. (Check out my series review here. I am, after all, a company man. Isn't that right Oscar? No, we'll worry about your healthcare later!) Seriously, if you have even a passing interest action movies, put any predispositions you may have towards Tom Cruise the man or the thought that this is "yet another franchise" aside and see this movie. It truly is one of the best action movies ever made. I had unrealistically high expectations for this film, and Christopher McQuarrie, Tom Cruise, and the rest of the production crew for Fallout somehow met them.
I think it's worth starting with the faults here. The film's story is a little messy and hard-to-follow. Unlike previous installments, including Rogue Nation, this installment did take itself a tad too seriously for what a popcorn flick should be. That's not to say there isn't a significant amount of humor and lighthearted dialogue scattered throughout its lengthy 147 minute runtime, but the tone did seem to be a bit more serious than previous films in the franchise, particularly in the final act. That said, I actually found myself personally getting a little emotional in said final act, but I will readily admit I admire this franchise more than most, so in all likelihood most viewers will be bored during these touching moments. They really serve as nothing more than placeholder moments to let the audience take a breath in between the jaw-dropping setpieces, but they're still a thing and a rather weak thing at that. Honestly, I'm just trying to split hairs here so I'm not constantly gushing about this film. Because it is worth gushing over.
The action setpieces here are some of the greatest I have ever seen. Tom Cruise shows that he can still bring it at age 56 with ease, and watching him hang from the side of a helicopter or run through the rooftoops of London (open palm running and all) is still nothing short of exhilarating. See, Mission: Impossible's insistence on filming as many of the stunts with practical effects, combined with Tom Cruise actually doing most of the incredible stunts throughout are what make Fallout as good as it is. Cruise actually spent three months learning to fly a helicopter in the film's breathtaking conclusion, and the cinematography around this unbelievable setpiece really sells it home. This helicopter chase is one of the most incredible sequences I have ever seen, and while it is the end of a resounding crescendo from director Christopher McQuarrie, there are plenty of other setpieces to get your adrenaline pumping. Heck, one of the early sequences features a spectacular oner that includes a cameraman doing a HALO jump with Tom Cruise, (which I still can't believe they did) which will likely go down as one of my favorite movie moments of 2018. And that's basically the first setpiece of the film! Ya, it's that good.
On top of the incredible action sequences, the film has a marvelous cast that features a surprisingly diverse cast of core characters. It's taken 6 films, but this franchise finally has a strong group of supporting women, led by the return of Ilsa Faust. (the role that put Rebecca Ferguson on the map) We also get two great newcomers in White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) and the stern, resolute, and cold-blooded Erica Sloan. (Angela Bassett) Also, August Walker (Henry Cavill) is pretty darn good alongside Ethan Hunt, (Tom Cruise) and he looks pretty sleek with his mustache too. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) also returns as this film is something of a direct sequel to Rogue Nation, but Lane continues to dwarf the legendary performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman from Mission: Impossible 3. However, he is a formidable villain for Ethan Hunt. And that's who you come to see, right? Yes, once more Tom Cruise handles the mantle and does things that I could only dream of, and is worth the price of admission alone. (Yes, he's not asked to do much in terms of acting here, but he doesn't need to when he's riding through Paris on a motorcycle without a helmet, right?) Tom Cruise is the the centerpiece of this franchise, and his suave and grace during the chaotic setpieces are exactly why. I also have to mention the score. Compsed by Lorne Balfe, Fallout's score is easily the strongest of a franchise that includes scores composed by Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, and Danny Elfman. It's a wonderful breath of fresh air for what's usually a forgettable summer blockbuster score. Also, gotta give a shoutout to director Christopher McQuarrie. Since Fallout doesn't cheat any of its action sequences, every aspect of filmmaking shows up and sells these over-the-top action setpieces, and McQuarrie is a big reason for why it all comes together and continues to work flawlessly. It doesn't really matter that the story is over-serious and confusing at points. You're not looking for a meaningful story in a popcorn flick. You're looking for good ol' fashion fun, and there's plenty of it to be found in Fallout. One of the best films of the year so far, Fallout is a masterfully executed action film, and is exhibit A for why you go to the movies. Don't miss it!
The Critique: One of the best action movies ever, Mission: Impossible - Fallout soars from one exhilarating sequence to the next with flawless execution, with an ageless performance from Tom Cruise holding it all together.
The Recommendation: Yes, this is an absolute must-see for all.
Rewatchability: Very High
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
Hey friends! With the impending release of the sixth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, I figured now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the previous five installments. Hopefully you'll see that while the franchise had some very humble beginnings (I'm still not sure how it continued on after the rather disastrous M: I-2) but hopefully I'll convince you that this franchise has propelled itself to the top of the proverbial action genre mountain with its recent installments. By the end of this you'll understand why Mission: Impossible - Fallout has been my most anticipated release of this summer's slate of blockbusters. So, let's get started!
Mission: Impossible II
Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
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Why does this exist other than to make Marvel $$$?
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.
Ahhhhhhhhhh yes. Another movie that could be summed up in two words: it's fine. But you don't come here for two word reviews, do you? So I will do my best to elaborate on this fine Ant-Man sequel. Ok so before you discount everything I'm going to say simply because I have superhero fatigue, (and I'll politely remind you about the fact that there are now 20 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 20!) keep in mind the fact that, after Thor: Ragnarok turned that franchise around, Ant-Man became the weakest superhero in Marvel's catalog. I think that's a pretty indisputable statement. And, unfortunately, Ant-Man and the Wasp is simply more of the same. If you liked the original, 2015’s Ant-Man, you'll like the sequel and have probably already tuned me out. And if you didn't care for it? Or found it ok, like I did? You'll find this one merely ok as well. However, combine this mediocrity with my cynical superhero fatigue, and you have one frustrated moviegoer.
So, let's start with the positives. Paul Rudd continues to be the best thing this franchise has to offer. His casual and light-hearted demeanor is perfect for a Marvel movie, and Paul Rudd delivers his humorous lines with the delivery you’ve come to expect from Paul Rudd. He made me laugh on several occasions, which is always nice. It's still very weird to see Michael Douglas in a superhero movie, but at the end of the day I’m still not complaining. And Michael Peña is still hilarious. How this dude is not a bonafide A-list star is beyond me. The film also features a decent villain, Ghost, and is portrayed exceptionally well by Hannah John-Kamen, but her motivations are rather shallow and pale in comparison to the previous three villains Marvel has put on screen. (Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War, Killmonger from Black Panther, and Hela from Thor: Ragnarok.) Honestly, Ghost falls into the “it's fine” category far as villains are concerned, but she is saved by Hannah John-Kamen’s performance, as well as some some good editing/CGI. Everyone else is…..fine, but there’s not much to speak of with them. (Including Evangeline Lilly….she’s fine but doesn’t stand out at all.) Outside of the performances….meh? The dialogue is pretty sharp, but I think that's benefited by the actors saying said dialogue. There's also some cool visuals littered throughout the movie. The film is a good showcase for what CGI can do in 2018, but it doesn't really push any boundaries, and the quantum realm it investigates still feels like it's “colorful simply for the sake of being colorful” so it doesn't really add to the film at all. And we don't have any over-the-top performances to entertain us like Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster did in Thor: Ragnarok, so….again. Meh?
When my “positives” paragraph gets mixed in with negatives, you know my cynical side is out in full force. But it's not my fault! Again, like with its predecessor, I felt like Ant-Man and the Wasp was not much more than a bottle episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, designed primarily to make Marvel / Disney as much money as humanly possible. And it will still make boatloads of money, despite the fact that this is the 20th installment in the MCU. The story feels like a boilerplate superhero story, and very little happens outside of this standard formula. The villains are boilerplate villains (the other villain of this film, Sonny Birch, was as boilerplate as they come and Walton Gibbons cliché portrayal didn't help matters) and the hero overcomes all adversity to win the day (and the girl) at film’s end. The only scene of consequence in this film occurs in the credits, which is a little frustrating because the events over other recent Marvel films could have (and should have) been utilized better here. Because of the placement of this scene, the sequence doesn't do much outside of wipe out the events of the entire movie preceding it, making this movie pretty useless at the end of the day. And that should be your biggest takeaway from Ant-Man and the Wasp: it has some witty dialogue and some decent visuals, but it adds very little to the overarching MCU. At the end of the day, your money is better spent elsewhere. Also, Stan Lee is in this movie. Again. Marvel seriously needs to stop with his cameos, PLEASE. There's no real reason to wait on seeing this Marvel film until it hits Netflix, (or Disney's impending streaming service) and there are plenty of other films in the theater right now that are more deserving of your money. Sooooo that's my roundabout way of saying “it’s fine” to sum up this Ant-Man sequel. And there's a lot better than “fine” at the movies right now.
My Number: 5/10 Average.
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