Warning– This article contains spoilers
Say what you want about the public antics of Tom Cruise, from his Oprah couch jumping to the weird claims regarding his belief in scientology, but there is no denying that he is the driver behind the Mission: Impossible action series. Prior to the release of the newest installation of the Mission: Impossible franchise, the series had grossed roughly 2.779 billion dollars, making it one of the 20 highest film series to date. Surely the newly releases M:I-Fallout will boost that status even higher.
At age 56, Cruise once again carries the film doing all the things that folks enjoy Tom Cruise doing – being charming, seeming overly driven, saving the world and running places like a madman. Actually, at one point in the movie Cruise runs so much that one has to wonder if he is going to quit the spy game and just turn into Forrest Gump. Cruise even went so far as to skydive out of a plane with James Corden to promo the film. Check out that video...
In addition to all of this, M:I-Fallout is everything that we’ve come to expect from a Mission: Impossible movie – suspenseful, action packed, filled with bad-assery and certainly worth the watch – if you are into that kind of thing - especially in the glories of IMAX.
That being said there are some elements of the film that I personally found to be lacking - mainly - the unresolved elements of utilitarianism and poor theology in the film. The main villains in the film – called The Apostles as a hat-tip to religious fundamentalism - keep muttering a mantra about - “The greater the sufferings the greater the peace.” They seem to believe that if everyone experiences great suffering together that will force people to work together on a global scale for peaceful goals. Apparently the bad guys never read about the Great Depression.
Anyhow, it is implied by the M:I team early on that three nuclear explosions in the Vatican, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and Mecca might provide the needed cohesion that the villains are seeking to produce. And they use some fakery to get one of the bad guys to believe that he has succeeded in his part of the master plan. But this is all just a ruse that exposes the fact that apparently the M:I team thinks that religion is the primary source of all conflict in the world. Obviously, they haven’t watched Wolf Blitzer recently.
Come to find out though the bad guys actually have something else in store. They want to contaminate a third of the world’s water supply. Of course this premise makes zero sense. Why make unusable a third of the world’s water supply - if ultimately you are trying to create unity in the world using shared tragedy?
But never mind that absurdity, there is another issue that M:I-Fallout leaves wildly unresolved – the subplot of saving the one over the many. The villains in the film seem to believe that a percentage of the population is disposable to “create peace” for the masses. Cruise’s character though, Ethan Hunt, is praised by his superior Alan Hunley and friend (Alec Baldwin) because he isn’t willing to let a single person die – even if it means risking the general population. Hunt proves this at the outset of the film when he saves one of his team member’s life in exchange for losing three uranium cores that will go on to be used as explosives.
The problem with the film on this point is that it doesn’t explain well what drives Hunt’s ethical motivations. At one point he saves the person who later ends up murdering Hunley. At every turn Hunt seems willing to risk his team members lives for the mission at hand. Beyond that there is a larger narrative in the movie that claims that Hunt left his wife because he needed to protect the world. At one turn Hunt is executing people and at another he is saving people that are wounded and may not live. In short, Hunt’s ethical motivations need fleshed out more in the series.
Beyond that, my main critique of the film is that it seems overly complicated at every turn. Yes, I get that the mission isn’t supposed to just be difficult – it is supposed to be impossible – but that doesn’t mean the story line has to be. It actually ended up seeming like more the case that the film was intentionally made bewildering to hide the fact that no novel tech would be introduced and that, once again people will die if some explosive’s wires aren’t simultaneously cut at the same time. Yawn.
Additionally, there are characters that are heftily introduced but then seem to have merely tangential roles in the film. For instance the stunning Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) is introduced as the intriguing White Widow but then fades into the films’ obscurity. Maybe she has a more active role in the next film? Or why all the fuss of breaking out Sean Harris’ character - Solomon Lane – so that he can just try to blow himself up? That isn’t just strange – it’s dumb.
But admittedly, I am nitpicking. In my opinion they should make as many of these films as they can while Cruise is available. I look forward to seeing how Hunt adapts with age.
On the whole, if you just want to space out, not worry about whether the film makes ethical or rational sense, and just see a solid action film - then M:I-Fallout is fantastic.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What do you think is the primary source of conflict in the world?
Q2. What do you think are the most effective ways for creating and maintaining peace?
Q3. What emerging tech do you think could be most effectively used for peacekeeping missions?