Mission: Impossible – Fallout *** ½
Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
*ing: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan
Super-spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back doing what he does best – saving the world. Along with Hunt we’ve also got the rest of his Impossible Missions Force, the tech geniuses Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) and their boss Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is, however, missing and that’s not too much of a problem as I don’t think he brought too much to the franchise. Also making a welcome return appearances from the last entry in the series MI: Rogue Nation is enigmatic British agent, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) as well as rogue spymaster, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). There are also newcomers like CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) and her favoured operative, August Walker (Henry Cavill), whose fists first approach is a nice contrast to Hunt’s, the hammer versus the scalpel. Plus, there’s a surprise return as well from earlier entries in the series.
It all involves familiar tropes of the genre – multiple nuclear devices primed to bring about Armageddon, rogue agents, double crosses and triple crosses, and exotic locales. What elevates the film are the superbly choreographed action scenes and a relatively comprehensible plot (for all its complexities and certain implausibilities). The script even ups the emotional stakes, somewhat, this time around. The cast is in fine form with Cruise leading the way and putting his body on the line. His insistence on shooting the tricky action sequences himself adds a visceral element to the MI films and he actually broke his ankle performing one of the stunts which ended up delaying the shooting schedule of the movie by some months. Fallout may not be quite as memorable as its immediate predecessor MI: Rogue Nation (which, admittedly, has flowered for me in hindsight) that not only boasted the introduction of Ilsa Faust but also had a couple of absolutely breathtaking action sequences. However, this latest Mission: Impossible feature is also more than just a solid entry in the franchise and the action thriller genre as a whole.
Cut to chase: Great stunts and action makes this a summer treat.
The Equalizer 2 ** ½
Dir: Antoine Fuqua
*ing: Denzel Washington, Melissa Leo, Pedro Pascal, Bill Pullman, Ashton Sanders
There’s a sub-genre of the action film which has a middle-aged (perhaps even slightly older) actor playing a mysterious, often-retired government operative with a “particular set of skills” who goes about righting wrongs in the world and often wreaking vengeance on gangsters and thugs who may have wronged him. Put Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer series firmly in this category. If you’re familiar with this sub-genre then you’ll know pretty much what to expect here – nothing less certainly with perhaps just a dash of a little bit more. Washington and director Antoine Fuqua are able to provide a little bit of atmosphere and a couple of scenes exhibit sustained tension. However, setting the climactic sequence in a coastal town in the middle of a hurricane kind of defies logic.
This sequel is Washington’s first in a long career as it is for director Antoine Fuqua, the two having teamed up earlier not only for the first Equalizer movie but also for Washington’s Oscar-winning Training Day and The Magnificent Seven remake. However, I’m not really sure that this project was actually worth their considerable combined talents.
Cut to chase: Some tense sequences but otherwise standard fare for the genre.
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Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection