MI Fallout is Tom Cruise’s fun cartoon for grown-ups

Summary: Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a fun cartoon for grown-ups, a roller-coaster-in-a-theater. You will see on the screen every dollar spent to make it. When watching, see how it differs from the 1960s TV show. This shows how we have changed.

Poster for Mission Impossible: Fallout

Review of Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

This film shows Tom Cruise, in fantastic shape at 56, in constant action. The sets and cinematography are excellent, even by the high standards of modern Hollywood. The acting is uniformly excellent, with small but powerful performances by Alex Baldwin (head of the IMF) and Sean Harris (as big bad guy Solomon Lane). Harris gets most of the good lines (such as “governments are descending into madness”, which is quite true).

Sean Harris as Solomon Lane
Sean Harris as Solomon Lane.

MI-F exempifies the dominant genre in modern film: cartoons for adults. It is a high budget and heroic Bugs Bunny for grown-ups.

M:I-F quickly establishes its mad cartoon tone. The heroes do a very dangerous HALO jump (High Altitude – Low Opening). The do this to gain entrance to a disco. A disco. We know never to question why Bugs Bunny does something. There is no why in a cartoon. The whole plot of M:I-F is like that.

The 150 minutes run time consists mostly of action (fights and car chases) separated by brief bouts of exposition. The action follows The Cartoon Laws of Physics (as described by Mark O’Dowell in Esquire, June 1980). Cruise’s motorcycle crashes at high speed, sending him flying (without a helmet). He gets up and walks away. A car hits his girlfriend; she gets up and walks away. In fight, people are thrown thru walls with no injuries. Cruise drives rapidly through crowded intersections, without a bump or scratch.

MI-F takes place in a cartoon version of Paris and London. Cruise roars down empty streets. Cruise fights in a club’s giant bathroom, undisturbed by patrons — or security people wondering about the loud noises and the gunshot. That and even more massive fights in public — with many dead bodies — attract little police follow-up, despite the ever present cameras (Cruise’s face would be on every TV news show by nightfall).

Heroes Running in Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Children’s cartoons vs. adults’ cartoons

Adults needs more excitement to produce the same thrills as children get from simple cartoons. Today’s action adventure films use high tech and massive budgets to give the audience a virtual roller coaster ride. As with the carnival ride, we enjoy the ride although we know where we will end up. There are some nice small surprises in the plot.

MI-F follows the tropes

The bad guys shoot a lot, but can’t hit anything. America sends only three agents to save the world, but the bad guys have scores – limitless hordes — of minions. The highly trained super agents make inexplicable mistakes to advance the plot. As in my favorite: “Where’s the plutonium?” Oops!

MI-F follows one trope that is a recent addition to the canon: the bad guys’ motivations range from mad to bizarre. In a world overflowing with terrorism, Hollywood must invent causes. The real causes that motive terrorism are politically incorrect to use.

Vanessa Kirby as The White Widow
Vanessa Kirby plays The White Widow in MI – F.

Compare the films with the TV “Mission Impossible”

The MI films differ from the TV show (1966-73) as our America differs from that of the Greatest Generation. The original Impossible Mission Force was an off-the-books or even private group. The recourse to illegal means was extraordinary and rare. We are less naive now, and the films shows the IMF as just another government agency — and its illegal methods just business-as-usual.

Comparing then and now also shows the dumbing-down of American culture. The 53 minute TV shows features complex plots in which the IMF relies on brilliant psychology and subterfuge — and little or no force. In the two hour plus films, the IMF relies on acrobatics,relies on  tech, and brute force. The TV shows were drama; the films are cartoons. America, then and now. The only hing in common between the TV shows and the films are the name and theme music.

The US government was a benign force in the TV shows, and is a bureaucratic morass of untrustworthy officials who betray more than they help the IMF. We have learned much since the 1960s.

Tom Cruise on a motorcycle
Tom always rides a motorcycle!

A last word about then and now

“{Hollywood used to make} musicals and comedies and dramas and detective stories and noir and war movies. …Now Hollywood puts out scads of superhero junk and things like this with a protagonist that does things that are impossible for an ordinary human being. It’s all fantasy …”

Review of MI-F by Tony Medley at his website.

Do we watch these because that is what Hollywood makes? Or does Hollywood make mostly action cartoons because that is what we want (the same reason McDonald’s makes fast food, not vegan cuisine).

For more information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all film reviews, reviews of Disney and of Marvel films, and especially these about recent films…

  1. Star Trek reboots to give us simple stories, the cartoons we like.
  2. See Solo, a Star Wars film that says much about America.
  3. Incredibles 2, a Father’s Day gift from Disney.
  4. Ocean’s 8: the most dangerous film of the year.
  5. See the secret theme of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
  6. Ant-Man and .the Wasp: fun for kids, boring for adults.
  7. Star Trek Enterprise was a mirror. We hated what we saw.

The Trailer

Another photo of Vanessa Kirby, The White Widow in MI-F

Vanessa Kirby
Vanessa Kirby.

10 thoughts on “MI Fallout is Tom Cruise’s fun cartoon for grown-ups

  1. And as usual (for me) with the IM franchise, less than one hour after seeing it, I couldn’t remember anything about it, or even having seen it. I can’t picture a single scene of the movie, let alone the overall plot, even if my life depended on it. As for all the movies of the franchise, save for the first, and maybe a bit or two of the second one, that has been the case each time: what a strange power these films have (just on me?). No ability to make me give a crap about the characters, the stakes or even the action: nothing really memorable, nothing endearing, nothings to really thrill beyond the purely superficial, in-the-moment level (and even that….). Pasteurized, stereotyped, formulaic, generic…. I can’t pinpoint the right word. And don’t start me on the level of characterization or cheap sentimentalism (as in an excess of bad sentimentality that forbids you from caring or taking the characters seriously, God forbids getting attached to any of them). But, while everybody understands that this is pure, popcorn, forgettable fun, I can’t exactly get why it is forgotten THAT fast, compared to a million others equally formulaic movies.

    A shame when it costs that much to produce and market. One would think efforts would be made to make you give a little of a crap, if only in order to make one await a tad eagerly for the next one.
    I liked the first one precisely because there was a lot of blood pumping action, and almost no fighting, with a hero (already a shocking one because to make him surge, they thought they had to vilify the historical hero) that relied more on wits and improvisation (along the standards of a blockbuster: I’m not saying this was mind blowingly smart) than on the already then more than omnipresent fisticuffs, these having long been very formulaic in Hollywood (cartoon fighting), whatever “style” of martial arts/combat methods is being used (while advertising it) as if it was oh so original and creative (sigh).

    But here…. Nah. Still can’t remember more than a 2 second bit here and there. And not caring about remembering more. They should work on that, one would think, even to have a bit of staying power, some sort of impact that makes the franchise stand out, be a real event in a year instead of just one more action flick. The overflow of big blockbusters that will more and more monopolize the big screens (phasing everything else out, “down” to the home screens) should make it a requirement.

    1. Tancrède,

      Nicely said. That’s how most carnival rides are like. Fun, exciting, easily forgotten.

      One of the few of the many roller coaster rides I’ve been on was at an old amusement park near Boston. It was made of wood. The entire structure rocked and groaned as we sped along it. We were the first ones to ride on it that day. When done, the operator invited us to take a free second ride. My wife and I declined, and quickly exited.

      I’ve been on much larger and fancier rides, but that’s the only one I remember vividly.

    2. Nothing like the feeling of a near death experience: the groaning and creaking was the real touch here, that made all the difference in the world. Good entertainment demands that extra something ;)

      “Fun, exciting, easily forgotten”

      Yes, but I was wondering why the IM franchise seems to have a particularity in that domain: I forget them even faster than the others, and not by a small margin. I care less than with most other action and/or big “spy” movies (characters, stakes….). Is it just with me, or is there a special flavor in these movies that makes them have even less flavor than any other?

      Plus, I would really wish to order a moratorium in Hollywood: one that would absolutely forbid, over a period of 10 to 20 years, any director to use “saving the world” as a plot and a sentence pronounced by human beings. Having that one as the backbone of a script every other day seems to me one of the sure signs that creativity is a completely tapped out resource on the planet. Or one of the signs of the coming apocalypse, maybe (the one with no spy/superhero/soldier/country/mystical warrior to save the day).

    3. Tancrede,

      “Is it just with me, or is there a special flavor in these movies that makes them have even less flavor than any other?”

      I don’t know. As many of my reviews suggest, I find many films these days to be somewhat boring. Probably I’m just too old, and so out of their target audience.

      “one that would absolutely forbid, over a period of 10 to 20 years, any director to use “saving the world” as a plot”

      I’ll sign that petition. Between the lack of interesting goals and the absurd villains (most are mad, like the Joker, so they need no motivation), films have imo lost the minimal grounding in reality needed for a good story.

    4. “Between the lack of interesting goals and the absurd villains (most are mad, like the Joker, so they need no motivation), films have imo lost the minimal grounding in reality needed for a good story.”

      I sort of liked the Joker in the Nolan movies: he had that irrational quality well enough presented so as to convince us (or maybe it’s just me) and incarnate that sort of inescapable juggernaut that can not be reasoned with, can not be avoided, that will keep plodding on no matter what. As a literal force, or fact, of nature that does not care if you’re here or not. I find that such things are rarely well done in fiction, and has often been spoiled even in horror movies. Vampires and werewolves, even Frankenstein’s monster (an iteration of the golem, but with daddy issues), used to be that way, symbols of the wild and the absolute in their relentless hostility. Nowadays, they have become whiny, angsty pseudo humans with PTSD and/or teenage troubles, or outright emos with the maturity of a retarded child, big ego and even bigger (and very snob) pseudo intellectual verbiage.

      As a result, the relentless/monomaniacal antagonist, the one that evokes a force of nature, is now incarnated by pure, outright, caricatural psychopaths (almost never well rendered), or zombies, or aliens. And even the latter are now more often humanized, or made more noble than humans, than not. So…. Zombies. Or natural catastrophes (but with the caveat that in the end, it must be reminded that it happened because of humanity…. #globalwarming). Or nazis (that will never be put to rest apparently). That sort of unequivocal, juggernaut-like antagonist is really badly done these days. Even King Kong has become a bit of a whiner of late.

      In IM, for a portion of a second, I almost believed that Henry Cavill could be that one minded, not-to-be-reasoned-with, terrifying by his relentlessness, kind of opponent, the defining force of the plot that imposes the tempo. Fool that I was: the trailer gave me false hopes.

      Antagonists, villains, opponents, adversity, risks…. Are not what they were. I suspect that, in addition to the pasteurizing role of studio interference, it may be due in no small part to a generation of directors that has lived little or not at all, hasn’t had any real life experience of note. A bunch of more or less talented geeks, technically experts but with little or no sense of life’s “texture” and taste.

    5. Tancrède,

      Nicely said on all points!

      “generation of directors that has lived little or not at all, hasn’t had any real life experience of note.”

      Not just directors, but writers too. Made worse by the insular society of Hollywood, which seems to have displaced their knowledge of the world outside.

      Another factor: writing for the global audience seems to have reduced Hollywood films to producing for the lowest common denominator. Simple puppet shows.

      I wonder how long this can continue before competitors arise who make better films. Much as Japan did to the US car industry.

  2. Back when Mission Impossible was on the air every week, they worked harder to achieve suspension of disbelief. For that matter, so did the government. Back then, there was a lot less action and violence onscreen, but there was also more suspense and more menace. When the Man said if you get caught the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions, it meant that getting caught was very, very bad. They might tie you to a chair and start cutting off body parts until they got answers. These day, Strozk and Page were texting openly about what they were up to, and while Strozk has been fired, he certainly hasn’t been disavowed. These days, if you get caught, the Secretary will set up a Go Fund Me. It’s just not the same.

    The goal back then was to tell a story that was on the outer edge of what seemed possible. It was supposed to be a seemingly possible story about a seemingly impossible mission. Now, it doesn’t even have to seem even remotely possible. It just has to look good. And I’m not just talking about the movies..

    1. The Man,

      Awesome. I agree on all points.

      “Now, it doesn’t even have to seem even remotely possible.”

      I’ve mentioned that, but never so clearly. We appear to want more fantasy in our films!

      “These days, if you get caught, the Secretary will set up a Go Fund Me. It’s just not the same.”

      Best of thread winner!

  3. This is why I rarely make it to the movies these days. Action flicks are usually too stupid, and there’s plenty of great drama on streaming TV. For instance, “Ozark” on Netflix, which is all about constant dread, with brief moments of relief which amount to “well we survived another day, hooray.”

  4. The last good movie with Cruise was with Kidman about the Oklahoma Sooners. Want fun, action and laughs? Try either version of Jumanji.

    Saw a Russian action movie, Hardcore, done in first person. Talk about a rollercoaster ride!

    Cheers

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