It is with a heavy heart that I share the following news: Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth entry in the Mission: Impossible film series that was released last week to critical acclaim and ravenous audiences, is not only the best installment of the now 22-year-old franchise, but the best movie ever made.
I don’t know why I have such a somber tone at the moment, given the fact that I’ve been in a state of wide-eyed euphoria since seeing Mission: Impossible – Fallout on Saturday evening—a feeling that waned only slightly after a good night’s sleep, and spiked again while watching Mission: Impossible – Fallout for a second time Sunday morning. Loving a movie this thrilling—with its death-defying stunts (Tom Cruise actually piloted a helicopter!), brilliant twists (the masks never get old), and exquisitely plotted action sequences (they’re like The Dark Knight but actually good!)—should not be sad or embarrassing for anyone.
It is OK to love watching Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt run through central London for several minutes because he is very good at running. It’s OK to love watching Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg speak exclusively in one-liners because they are clearly having the time of their lives. It’s OK to feel like a Hans Zimmer-inspired score—with all the tick-tocking of its strings—is manipulating you to feel more nervous and excited during the setup sequence of the film’s central heist sequence because that’s exactly what an action score is supposed to do. It’s OK that Henry Cavill fumbled his press tour leading up to the film’s release because, guess what, you’re not supposed to like his character anyway. And it’s more than OK that the IMF team is dealing with nukes for the third movie in a row because—barring the inclusion of aliens—action movie stakes will never be higher than the threat of nuclear war.
The only thing that is not immediately OK (other than everything that has to do with Tom Cruise and Scientology) is the franchise’s sudden decision to shift its focus back to Hunt’s romantic life—which was entirely superficial in parts 1 and 2, the central motivation of 3, addressed briefly in 4, and ignored entirely in 5. It should be impossible for me to believe that a Tom Cruise character is in love with and loved back by not one, but two (2) women simultaneously, but if these six movies have taught me anything it’s that characterizing something as impossible in the first act leads to nothing but rousing successes in the third. So what can I say? Ethan Hunt loves the ladies, the ladies love him back, and I’m glad everyone’s getting some. More importantly, I’m glad Rebecca Ferguson (whose character deserves a half-dozen films of her own), Michelle Monaghan (in a peculiar but satisfying performance), and Vanessa Kirby (who seems positively shocked and surprised to be there) each save Hunt’s life at least once.
It is rare that a movie leaves me so giddy and dumbstruck by the intricacies of its production, shocked that what I’m seeing is what someone actually did—and in some cases, something they did more than once. Tom Cruise is Hollywood’s most enthralling action star—an utter lunatic who has learned how to redirect every bit of dark energy surrounding his personal life into a maniacal obsession with filmed fearlessness of every possible kind. Fallout is the summer’s greatest diversion, a non-stop pummeling of the senses that will activate the dumbest parts of your brain and temporarily convince you that what you are screaming, gasping, and laughing at is, in fact, possible.