My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on a new movie I saw in the theater yesterday.



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

From the sounds of this review, it will probably seem like I didn’t enjoy the new MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. I did. But it fell short of its predecessor in so many ways, perhaps confirming that FALLOUT may be the best the series will ever get.

That sixth film found the near perfect combination of stunts and story with the franchise’s smartest cast. It was fun but there’s something dangerous and gritty about it too. Casting Cavill was a stroke of genius and for the first time in six films, Tom Cruise was in real jeopardy because “superman” might kick his ass.

On the other hand, the seventh film drifts away from these instincts and towards 007 territory. DEAD RECKONING feels most like a Bond movie than any of the others (and that’s not a good thing). From the sci-fi leaning plot to the preposterous action to the gallery of pretty women, McQuarrie and Tom took one too many tips from the other, flailing spy franchise. Since the plot points never mattered that much in previous installments and only served as a loose framework for the spectacle, it’s bizarre how Tom & co. try so hard to make the AI-villain story beats such a dominant element, subjecting us to several Christopher Nolan-like long scenes of exposition. Never has a MISSION movie been this verbose.

In terms of action, these films could never be accused of realism but the seventh entry trades in any senses of grounded danger for amusement park fun. The chases in FALLOUT were truly edge-of-your-seat experiences; these are entertaining, often silly, thrill rides. The amount of VFX doesn’t help. A final action set piece on a train, the best of the movie, is hurt by the use of digital set dec and props instead of real items. I don’t remember thinking about what was digital and what wasn’t while watching FALLOUT. This time, I was counting the VFX shots left and right. It significantly takes away from the illusion of danger…

Finally, the casting choices are not Tom’s best selections. I don’t know where I would have gone after Cavill but Esai Morales is no substitute. He reminds me of the many Bond villains over the decades who can barely be distinguished from each other. The women here are starting to blend together too. DEAD RECKONING adds yet another brunette that Tom has to protect to the mix. They’re starting to become interchangeable, just a step above Bond’s dispensable dames. Some critics said this is the most emotional of the seven films. I disagree. The emotions are starting to get diluted. One particular narrative decision effects one of the series’ best performers and instead of having a major dramatic impact, it comes off as a big mistake for this story and future of Tom’s franchise. Another narrative thread tries to inject humanity into one of the film’s villains but the execution of this idea is undeveloped and sloppy. More than before, Tom and McQuarrie’s approach of weaving a story around the big stunts leads to a thread-bear result.

Again, I liked DEAD RECKONING enough to warrant a trip to the movie theater. But FALLOUT was astonishing and now I really wonder if Tom and his team really understand why it worked so well.

Watched at Cinema City Arena in Budapest.