In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Originally posted on MovieJawn.
The Tommy C. Appreciation Club, or TCAC, solemnly swears to watch and appreciate all theatrical performances by Tom Cruise then recap them, round-table style. In this edition, the Moviejawn crew embarks on a bonkers adventure with our pal Tommy in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Sandy DeVito, The WitchQueen of Darkness: Okay, y’all. TOMMY CLUB REVIVAL NUMBER ONE. I still don’t really understand how I missed Tommy C. Club the last time around, but I’m very pleased it’s been revived. I’ve been watching a lot of Tommy in the past two weeks because I marathon’d all the M:I movies in prep for Fallout (I’d only ever seen the de Palma one before this marathon) and let me tell you, they did NOT disappoint. Rogue Nation is definitely the best one, harnessing all the camp, drama and suspense scattered throughout the previous four. But I digress.
Fallout is fucking great for one thing in particular: THE STUNTS ARE FUCKING BANANAS. Tommy jumps out of airplanes at hundreds of thousands of feet. Tommy uses a rope to scale a helicopter mid-flight only to careen it through the air trying to avoid a machine gun and crash it into another helicopter and then both helicopters CRASH DOWN A FUCKING MOUNTAIN and teeter on the precipice of a ravine. Tommy has a fucking incredibly choreographed fight in a bathroom that you frankly must see to believe. Tommy drag races cars down tiny London streets. There isn’t one nuclear bomb in this narrative, THERE ARE TWO, and they can’t be conventionally disarmed, and I bit my pinky nail off in suspense at that end sequence. And the best thing about all this bonkers action is Tommy did a bunch of his own stunts. Tommy is an animal.
But I will say, I find it pretty ironic that McQuarrie switched out one problematic asshole with another. It’s also not a great look to state disparaging shit about #MeToo when your next on-screen role is playing a (sort of a spoiler?) horrible villain? Movies like this are escapism, but that’s a blending of reality and fantasy I could fucking do without.
Dan Scully: (Note from 2023: It took everything in my power not to make some sort of jest about how rich it is that Sandy was mad about a few soundbytes from interviews that she incorrectly deemed problematic in her intro to a post that essentially sucks the dick of the demigod face of a gigantic, dangerous cult, but I didn’t want to make a thing out of it. Anywho, part of the fun of having my own website is that I can correct that now. Happy days!). Surprising nobody who has ever heard me speak of this series (or really any movie), I absolutely adored Fallout. It may take a second viewing to be sure, but this might be my new favorite M:I entry, a distinction which has always gone to Ghost Protocol. If I may introduce objectivity into a purely subjective matter, I believe this to be the best film in the franchise so far (“best” and “favorite” are distinctions I’m happy to make – fight me).
While I know we’re here to shower love upon the smiling face of Tommy C., the person who emerges as the true winner of this production is writer/director Christopher McQuarrie. We often don’t think of him as an auteur so much as a screenwriter who made the jump to filmmaking, but Fallout has all but assured that he will go down as one of the great blockbuster storytellers. He’s certainly made one of the smartest and most exciting blockbusters of the modern era — heck, of all time. In an era where crisp action has been replaced with crispy action — where sequences are assembled in post-production as opposed to being built from the ground up — it’s exciting to see action serve as a narrative device, rather than just punctuation for the sake of adhering to genre form. It’s doubly exciting to see action that has clarity, a notion that has become foreign to so many action flicks. Here, the visuals have a soft edge and a fluidity not often seen at the multiplex, while still packing an unbelievable wallop. Add to that an exciting, game cast with Tommy “I will do literally anything so long as it’s crazy” Cruise at the forefront, and you simply can’t lose. In my humble opinion, Fallout is a masterpiece.
Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport: I would not go as far to say it’s a masterpiece, however Fallout is a damn fine action movie. Despite the run time being two hours and twenty-seven minutes, I found it to move swiftly. There were moments that I even found my heart racing. This wasn’t just due to Tommy C.’s captivating smile either. Don’t fret, Tommy C. charms, but it is the incredibly bonkers action sequences that will leave you talking. Particularly, the motorcycle chase Tommy C has with Rebecca Ferguson. Rebecca, lady, you are freaking rad. Having stopped watching the franchise with the J.J. Abrams, Mission: Impossible III, I am pleased to find that my timing to return is impeccable, as I totally missed the Renner years. It was a pleasant surprise to see Ving Rhames still hanging in there and the Simon Pegg addition. Simon is always a pleasure to spend time with and should be in every major universe franchise thing. The nerdy Benji character he portrays won my heart.
I’m still astonished by all the practical effects that were used to make this movie particularly THE MASKS! Thanks to Angela Bassett, I am now able to refer to this as a Halloween movie. Masks are great (unless we are talking the mask of Crispin), and I love that they are such an integral part of this series.
A movie like this is the reason that you go to the theater. You need to see it big or not at all. In my eyes, Tommy C. has now completely redeemed himself after that unspeakable “movie” in which he attempted to dabble as a Universal Monster. In Fallout, Tommy C. doesn’t let you down. His charisma oozes off the screen and it is easy to see that he cares about us and our viewing experience. Tommy C. gives it everything he has. I have never in my life seen him run faster, jump higher or deliver lines smoother. I’m back aboard the Cruise ship and am convinced that no matter what the mission is, with Tommy C. it is always possible. Cuz’ as he so confidently reminds us throughout the flick, “I’ll figure it out.”
Sandy DeVito, The WitchQueen of Darkness: You know what I really love about Tommy C.? I love the fact that he clearly loves the audiences who come to see his movies. Some actors and filmmakers, you get the impression they’re sick of people, or that they even enjoy mocking the audience or their fans or the press. But Tommy? Tommy loves the people. Tommy’s movies are always for ordinary people. He makes movies because he loves to make movies. He loves his audience, and he wants to do whatever he can to make them happy. Tommy’s zodiac sign is Cancer, and Cancer people love to make the people they love HAPPY. Every time I watch a Tommy movie (Fallout is no exception), I get a strong feeling he wants to make me happy with his performance. It’s clear that Tommy isn’t just an actor who loves his job, he’s also a fan of movies. And that’s everything when you’re watching a film; you can feel that radiating out from the screen. He’s doing all those crazy stunts for YOU. He’s smiling for YOU. He’s being intense and professing to be the storm for YOU, dear audience. Tommy is a true movie star.
Oh, you know what I don’t want though? I don’t want Ethan (Tommy) and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) to be lovers. I don’t even want them to be fuck buddies. I just want them to be close friends who really respect each other and would help each other out of any kind of jam, platonically. I just really don’t want them to fuck, y’all. Why can’t Ilsa just live? Does Ethan really need to be fucking someone on the regular? We’ve already figured out (via Michella Monaghan’s Jules) that any kind of long-term relationship for him is gonna be super difficult due to his (fucking crazy) line of work. Can’t he just have wildly romantic flings? Can’t Ilsa? I’m glad they avoided making them kiss or some cliche shit like that, and don’t get me wrong, I fucking love romance and sex and kissing in movies, but I just don’t want that for them. And if he was gonna be with anyone long-term, it should have been Thandie Newton (M:I 2 is fucking great, y’all, fuck off).
Also, I said this to Rosalie, but after this, I definitely need a break from the M:I franchise. I marathoned all of them and as enjoyable as they are (very), I need a break from the Batshit Stunt genre for a bit. I have a watchlist that’s 900+ films long! I need variety in my life. Also, I would really, really love to see a woman direct the next M:I film. I think that would be fucking awesome. I think that would be totally rad. If anyone can find a way to up the ante after the absolutely insane stunts in Fallout, it’s a woman.
Dan Scully: In re-watching the entire series, the one thing I wanted to track was how much of a character Ethan Hunt really is. With accusations abound that Tommy C. is only playing himself, I thought it important to try and parse out just how much of Hunt is script and how much is Cruise. I’m pleased to report that Hunt is most definitely a character, but that this character, as evidenced by another repeated phrase in Fallout shares the same core values as the actor: “I won’t let you down.” No sir, you sure as shit have not let us down.
And that really is the magic of a Tommy C. as Sandy said, his goal is to entertain us at all costs, and short of a few poor role choices here and there, he never disappoints. Even in something dumb like The Mummy, he can never be accused of phoning it in, a distinction that few actors can say of their body of work. Tommy C. shows the hell up no matter what, and when paired with a director like McQuarrie, another artist who simply refuses to give less than his all, the results are magic.
I must wholeheartedly agree that I wish for no type of sexual relationship to bud between Hunt and Ilsa. It just doesn’t work and is totally unneeded. I think Fallout put an ice cap on Hunt’s dalliance with suburban normalcy, and that’s where it should stay. Ilsa is like 20 years his junior and is way too strong of a character to be pinned down with something so passé and unnecessary. And if there’s one thing Tommy can’t really do, IMO, it’s heteronormative sexiness. I just don’t buy it. Cruise and Hunt read as distinctly asexual to me and that’s kinda how I like it.
Something tells me that this will be the last M:I movie, and I think it serves well as a series capper, and really, how can we possibly escalate things further? Send Tommy C. to space? Sure, he’ll do it, but I think I’m good. But if we are to make another one, and we were to hire a woman to direct, I’ll throw my hat in the ring for Michelle MacLaren. And if we really want to continue the series without Tommy C. (which we don’t) I see no reason why Rebecca Ferguson couldn’t carry the series, snapping necks with her thighs through at least two more entries.
If the mission was to create a stunning entry in a 22-year old franchise, with an eye toward upping every aspect of it to oblivion, well, mission accomplished.
Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport: A Rebecca Ferguson Mission spin off, bring it! That lady is YES and needs to be in more flicks. However, I’d like to believe that this franchise will keep going as long as Tommy is breathing in and out. Seriously, Tommy C. ain’t ever biting the dust. (Ed. note: Thousands of Scientologists will tell you he won’t). He has gotta have some kind of plan figured out. He’s a prepper. Nothing can stop this guy. Not even a jazzy scooter. Tommy is going to keep running, jumping and donning rubber masks until it is coffin time. Picture it, scooter stunts. Scooter stunts in space! The possibilities are endless and truly nothing is impossible.