Mission: Impossible – Fallout is brillant, but where’s NZ gone, Tom?

by Russell Baillie / 04 August, 2018

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The Mission: Impossible – Fallout trailer comes with scenes which didn’t make the final cut of the move’s 2 ½ hour running time, including the NZ-shot scene of truck vs chopper.

New Zealand’s co-starring role helps Tom Cruise’s mission to be his most accomplished, though you wouldn't know it.

Tom Cruise. Mate. Before reviewing your new Mission: Impossible movie, which is awesome by the way, a word. You know when you came to New Zealand for The Last Samurai? It turned out Taranaki was a stunt double for old Japan. Yes, okay, with that title we should have guessed.

Now, some of this movie was shot in the South Island – the result is awesome, by the way … is it called Fallout because there are no doors on that helicopter of yours? Anyway, it turns out our beloved Southern Alps are doubling for Kashmir, a place best known as a Led Zeppelin song. It’s just that, well, you keep using clean-ish, green-ish NZ as a stand-in. What gives? After all, you filmed M:I 2 in actual Sydney in actual Australia. That was … a bit crap, actually. So never mind. Fair point.

But, just a reminder: we have dodgy American billionaires in bunkers all over our southern lakes. Not much of a leap to think a supervillain could be hiding out down here. So just remember that for next time. Cool. Cheers, New Zealand.

Yes, it can be easy to make fun of the seemingly ageless Tom Cruise in his sixth Mission: Impossible film, a vehicle which he first retooled 22 years ago from the 1960-70s spy series with the cool theme tune and rubber mask gimmick. Like, can anyone remember what happened in parts I through IV?

The sixth instalment is quite something else. It might be another Cruise stuntathon where, as Ethan Hunt, his running style is going to give him black eyes with his knees. He actually broke an ankle while leaping tall buildings in a single bound during shooting. That’s in a sequence using the rooftops of inner London as a one-man steeplechase. One of the steeples is St Paul’s Cathedral, the other the tower of the Tate Modern. Apparently no one noticed there’s a perfectly good footbridge between them.

But no, Cruise is again making it hard on himself. And the way he does that here helps make Fallout the best of the series. It might do plenty that the previous movies have done before – mask switcheroos, supervillains busting out of prison vans, cliff-hanging.

It’s just so much better put together. True, the story can be a bewildering cat-and-mouse chase, one involving an entire pet shop’s worth of well-groomed spies, double agents, villains and villainesses. Plus, it’s two and a half hours long. But it’s the sort of action film where the crazy, ride-along excitement it induces triumphs over preposterousness, excess running-time and any allergies to Cruise himself.

It helps that it springs off the previous Rogue Nation in ways the earlier M:I films haven’t, though Alec Baldwin’s spy boss turn ups for regular expository lectures. Fallout also returns compromised MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (a terrific Rebecca Ferguson) as Hunt’s ally/love interest, and the raspy ratty Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) as Hunt’s nemesis.

Also pitching in is Superman himself, Henry Cavill, as the CIA’s most dangerous moustache, who initially joins Hunt’s team to find three plutonium orbs which bounce through the plot like Lotto balls from Belfast to Berlin to Paris to London and “Kashmir”.

In some places Hunt runs, in some he goes nuts in a chopper. In the French capital he’s racing around in trucks, cars and motorcycles, taking on the Arc de Triomphe traffic the wrong way, without a helmet.

So, yes, Tom Cruise, is, at the age of 56, riding through Paris on a sports bike with the warm wind in his hair. He looks brilliant doing it. So is his film.

Video: Paramount Pictures

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★★1/2

This article was first published in the August 11, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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