I don’t know exactly how it is where you are, but in the UK cinema isn’t generally a participatory sport. Outside of comedy or horror there’s very few acceptable reactions one is allowed to have. I’ve been to screenings with the director present where the audience were too British to have the courtesy to applaud. Sure, not all films are hits, but you’d think polite uncomfortable appreciation would be something that we’d mastered as a culture.
There was somebody sitting a few seats away from me when this movie began. Bafflingly, he left (or at least moved a little further away from the screen) just before that final extended action beat, the one from the trailers with the helicopter. Suddenly there was nobody around me and I had the universe’s blessing to squeal and shriek as much as I could.
And boy, did I. A lot. You don’t even realise when it’s happening, the film is just relentless, it drags the reactions right outta you. I mean, they sure milked a lot from Tom Cruise’s broken ankle in the marketing for this thing. The film does too, the way that Lorne Balfe hits this cartoonish musical sting when the man’s tiny body smacks into the side of a building.
People don’t usually make a huge deal about the huge delays in their production schedule, but for them this was like a gift from the movie gods. Because it’s always there, not even the back of your mind. There were people out there actually doing these things. Not to say that it’s the only way to make a good movie – the form, after all, must always be matched to the function. And the impulse of actors to do it themselves, make it real, can so often be tied in to the worst forms of macho posturing.
I don’t find any of that here though. Like, once his persona was getting tainted by the speculation about his private life, he reformulated his public image to its simplest. Here is a guy who loves making movies and doing extreme stunts. There’s a childlike purity to that which is perfectly channelled into all of his recent projects. Albeit with the weird exception of recent confused Doug Liman joint American Made. He puts out productions that are mostly untarnished by industry drama, that everyone seems at any rate to enjoy making, all so that he can continue to do what he loves.
When you approach Mission: Impossible – Fallout with that in mind it becomes impossible to resist a single moment of it. Like, when you start watching, it becomes immediately obvious that the film lost 10-15 minutes from the opening. We rush through these key plot points, define the stakes, hastily assemble the old team, pick up an unwanted hanger on. It all happens at this dizzying pace, and its ten straight minutes of work.
Not to say that there’s nothing interesting there, there totally is some good stuff but the pleasure is in what it affords the film. Everything after is the production having fun. Cartwheeling and dazzling you with its collection of circus tricks. There isn’t a down moment, each twist, each moment of exposition is placed within the context of action. That high you get from the first hour of Ghost Protocol before it gets caught up in the business of production rewrites is this whole movie from start to finish.
It is hard to find anything more to say. The film feels honest. There is not a single moment onscreen I could find where it was lying. There is nary a crack, chip, or hole in its immaculate surface. It’s certainly the best action film of the year, might just be the best one full stop.
Mission Impossible – Fallout is currently screening in UK cinemas.