Mission Impossible: Fallout (Aka The Matrix 4)

Ok, so here’s the thing about Tom Cruise and his Mission Impossible movies. Tom Cruise is a famous actor, but more than that, in his late 50s, he’s become the world’s foremost movie stuntman. With each Mission Impossible film he does more and more outrageous stunts to the point that the only stuntman he’s been competing with for the past decade is probably himself.

What people need to understand about Tom Cruise is that if there’s a car, and you don’t see him, he’s still driving it. Same goes for airplanes, helicopters, skydiving, rock climbing, underwater hijinks, or anything else. Yes, in a sense it’s amazing but what people forget is there is some CG that needs to be used in the film. I think Mission Impossible: Fallout is the first film where this backfires.

DISCLAIMER: I really enjoyed this movie! I am just making a point about the SFX.

Ok, my basic point is this: Cruise’s stunts have become so realistic and outlandish that they mesh with CGI to the point that you don’t gasp and go “that’s real!” anymore. The problem I believe comes down to 3D cinema (how I viewed the film) in that 3D adds an extra level of blur. This makes it difficult to distinguish Cruise’s real stunts from the CGI elements. A good example of this is the HALO skydive he does in the film – Cruise did the skydiving which required 100 jumps to film all the footage. Yes, 100 HALO (very complex high altitude skydives) to do one scene. It’s insanity. But the scene also involves some thunderclouds and storms that he dives through which are CGI. But what the storm does is blur the practical effects and the CGI together.

Over the film, this created for me an awkward sense of being unable to separate the ‘dream world’ of CGI with the real practical effects. Hence my cryptic title of this blog mentioning the film as ‘Matrix 4’…How do you feel about a film when the practical and the computer meet and blur? Well, it just makes your mind have difficulty being amazed with Cruise’s stunt work.

At this point I want to state that the film is quite good. Cruise’s costars including Ving Rhames (the last original IMF member other than Cruise) and especially Henry Cavill as “Walker” deliver. I loved Cavill’s performance which alternates between Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” as an assassin to a violent Ryan Gosling from “Drive”. Alec Baldwin does good in his small role as IMF director. I really like Vanessa Kirby, a prior unknown actress to myself, who mixes an intriguing mix of elegance with believable sexual desire for Ethan Hunt (Cruise) that keeps cracking through to then be barely contained.

The plot is complex. It has so many twists and turns that it’s hard to follow at times and, unfortunately for me, hits Mission Impossible 2 level silliness with their hyper-realistic mask stuff and voice chips. If you’ve seen the other films, you know what I’m talking about. The best scene is a genius one involving CNN, that’s all I’ll say. Ok fine, I’ll say the scene very accurately portrays modern CNN.

Mission Impossible: Fallout is an excellent movie only partially derailed by its own success and excess. It reminds me of someone being the best at the Nintendo game Mario Kart. You can then race your own ghost on a course, trying to best yourself, and it’s a little weird. No film does practical stunts like a Mission Impossible film and they’ve pushed it so far the mind has trouble adjusting. Just like in The Matrix.

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