Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Full Review)

The Mission: Impossible franchise has been one of the best in the spy genre for over twenty years. From Ethan Hunt dangling from a wire in the 1996 film to hanging from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai for 2011’s Ghost Protocol, the character has given us some of the most intense and jaw dropping action sequences in the genre. And just when I thought Tom Cruise’s stunts couldn’t get more outrageous… he ups the ante like never before for Mission: Impossible Fallout.

MI_–_FalloutFallout begins by placing IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his usual allies Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames) on a mission to keep the last remnants of the terrorist organization, The Sindicate, from getting plutonium for nuclear weapons. When Hunt is forced to give up the plutonium for his friend’s life, the head of the IMF (Alec Baldwin), sends his team on a mission to meet with a shady arms dealer (Vanessa Kirby), in hopes of extracting and interrogating the leader of the Sindicate, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). But Hunt and his team aren’t alone this time. Determined to fix Hunt’s mistake, CIA head Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) sends her top agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) along for the ride.

The story can certainly get convoluted at times, especially for anyone who isn’t familiar with the franchise. It also doesn’t help that not all of the plot twists land. But story isn’t as important to these films as the obstacles for the protagonist. And Fallout has plenty of obstacles for Ethan Hunt. Tom Cruise brings his all and seems to operate with the sole mission to bring more incredible stunts to Fallout than any action film that came before it. And he absolutely succeeds. There is hardly a dull moment, with each action sequence bringing vigor whether it be via stakes or the captivating camera angles.

Director Christopher McQuarrie also manages to bring the same touch of character charm that was felt in Rogue Nation. It helps that Fallout brings back its best character from its predecessor. Rebecca Ferguson’s returns as the English double agent, Ilsa, with the same stunning femme fatale energy. The supporting characters, both old and new, all bring charisma and well timed comedic flare. Combining that with the sheer passionate, recklessness of both Tom Cruise and his character, means that while there might be better spy films and perhaps smarter Mission: Impossible movies, you’d be hard pressed to find one more entertaining than Fallout.

FINAL GRADE: A

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Isle of Dogs (Full Review)

Love, Simon (Full Review)

It doesn’t matter who you are. High school is a whirlwind of angst and drama. Finding your individuality and navigating the awkward landscape of social interaction is something every American can identify with. This is why a well written teen comedy with endearing characters can be some of the most compelling cinema, and it’s why Love, Simon is one of the best films of 2018 so far.

Love,_Simon_posterSimon (Nick Robinson) is a high school senior with loving, successful parents (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner), a little sister who is an aspiring chef (Talitha Eliana Bateman), and a loyal circle of best friends (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). He is also hiding his sexual orientation from all of them, afraid of how things might change if his peers know the truth. When an anonymous classmate posts on a blog that he too is gay and afraid to come out, Simon creates an alias and forms a romantic bond with the secret student via email. But after another, socially awkward, student (Logan Miller) stumbles upon his secret and threatens to blackmail him, Simon is forced to finally confront his frightening reality.

All great teen comedy/dramas have a main character that is charismatic and easy to route for. Love, Simon is no different. Nick Robinson’s emotionally earnest portrayal is absolutely magnetic. He brings quirky humor and tear jerking compassion that should make any person with an ounce of heart admire and gravitate toward his journey. The supporting players hold their weight as well. Each performance has depth that makes them feel real and not just characters in a story. Jennifer Garner and Jush Duhamel are specifically marvelous. The heartfelt scenes they share with their onscreen son after his inevitable coming out are nothing short of beautiful.

Love, Simon is the first major release that tackles such a pertinent subject matter and it explores its themes with sensational nuance. Robinson’s character does not exemplify many of the stereotypes associated with homosexuality which helps the film serve as education for viewers with misconceptions while also giving representation to an unfairly scrutinized community. It teaches us how to be tolerant and supportive of things we don’t identify with or understand. And even though it gets a little sappy, Love, Simon proves to be a transcendent love letter to everything that makes the genre emotionally captivating.

FINAL GRADE: A

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