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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Mission Impossible-Fall Out, Review: “The greater the suffering, the greater the peace”

Mission Impossible-Fall Out, Review: “The greater the suffering, the greater the peace”

Sixth in the TV series-to-big-screen franchise, Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible is aptly titled Fall Out. Besides the threat of a triple nuclear fall-out, there are falls, and fall outs of/from all possible kinds, in the universe of CIA operative Ethan Hunt: Motorcycles, cars, trucks and helicopters constitute one bunch; land, water and snow are the nature division; CIA-spurned rogue organisations the Syndicate and Apostles (villains) are another category; a discredited intelligence-operative-turned nuclear weapons wheeler-dealer, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), British Military Intelligence Section 6 (MI6) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are the third classification. Besides, Cruise has already fallen out of a marriage. And no, the film did not release in fall season, which is a good five weeks away in the USA. Will it stand tall till fall? Here’s my tell all--well, almost all.

A most wanted by the IMF and the government of many countries, criminal, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), has evaded arrest in an Ethan Hunt led CIA mission gone awry, in Berlin.  Now, the world faces repercussions and dire consequences. Hunt’s ex boss, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), who now works for the IMF, sends him a message, informing him that Lane is in Paris and he should capture him, should he choose to accept this assignment. He comes on board right away. The CIA question’s his loyalty and his motives, because of the botched earlier attempt, but Hunt still opts to take on the assignment.

Hunt, IMF team-mates Luther Stickel (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) join forces with CIA assassin, August Walker (Henry Cavill), who is drafted into the team against everybody’s wishes by the new CIA Director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), Hunley’s successor. They have to  prevent a disaster of epic proportions wherein dreaded arms dealer John Lark (?) and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on three holy sites in different parts of the world. Their credo: “The greater the suffering, the greater the peace”.

The Apostles intend to buy the bombs from White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who has the alter ego of a charity missionary to cover her real trade: arms dealing. But there is someone else who is after Lane: MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She wants him dead, while Hunt wants to take him alive. Surprisingly for them, getting to Lark seems like cake-walk, and the predators corner him in a toilet. But is this Chinese man (Liang Yang) really John Lark?

Cruise’s old faithful, Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), who has collaborated with Cruise for a dozen years, has written and directed this sixth outing. The writer in him explains almost every scene with reference to the context or alluding to the Mission Impossible 5: Rogue nation. Stunts are superlative, and it is a well-known fact that Tom Cruise broke his ankle during shooting in August last year. If anything, writer McQuarrie has smooth (for men and women of the spying/assassination profession) passages ready for his lead actors, even in the most adverse of circumstances. The obligatory beginning with “This message will self destruct in five seconds” is retained, preceded by a dream in which Hunt sees himself getting married in a lush green field, where the priest reads out the vows which are listed like a spy’s manifesto. Besides the above listed vehicle chases, there is a hell of a lot of Olympic speed running and spectacular jumping across buildings. This could well be McQuarrie’s tribute to Forrest Gump. (Usain Bolt, are you reading this?).

Men and women are often shot when you feel there was not enough justification and allowed to escape when they should have been shot dead. Helicopter shots are mind-boggling and part of the climax is a cliff-hanger, if ever there was one. In some shots, there is a freeze like situation, expecting the audience to lol, bit only a couple of them work. There is no sex (they wanted a PG13 rating). Locales vary across the globe, beginning with Paris and staying there for a while, and ending at the Siachen glacier, which strategically located Indian territory.

In clocking a running time of 147 minutes, McQuarrie has done justice to almost all the characters. He has said in print that there was too much action, so some of it has been left-out, adding that this was indeed a director’s cut. We don’t miss it, really, but a looksee at the home market version may be worthwhile, since he has said that some of the omitted action might be restored.

Tom Cruise is trade-mark Tom Cruise, the slight tilt of the head, the distinguishing voice and diction and the intense eyes. Though a fare amount of footage is devoted to his belief that friends, family and innocents should not be targetted as collateral damage, it is his ‘bullet speed’ running and nano-second reflexes that remain with you after the film is over. And don’t you tell me that you are not suspending disbelief! Henry Cavill (Red Riding Hood, Batman v/s Superman, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) is super-cool and does the action scenes rather well. Getting in a DC super-hero to face-off against Tom Cruise is a good move.

I (and I am sure many other fill-buffs) noticed Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission Impossible) first in Pulp Fiction, where he played a crime-lord who is meted justice in a cruel way. In Fall Out, he brings in a bit of humour and sentiment. That Simon Pegg (British comedian; Star Trek, Star Wars, Mission Impossible) generates more humour  can be attributed to his standing as a professional comedian.

Rebecca Ferguson (Swedish; Mission Impossible, Hercules, the Greatest Showman) is beauty with brains though the cat and mouse game between Hunt and her is stretched a bit too far. Sean Harris (English; ’71, Macbeth, Mission Impossible) as Solomon Lane, an anarchist mastermind who was the leader of the Syndicate during Rogue Nation, speaks with an English accent and looks vulnerable, but just you wait. Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Black Panther) is the other black actor, besides Ving Rhames, and the later scenes featuring her are well conceived.

Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Gone Baby Gone, Mission Impossible) as Julia Meade-Hunt, Ethan's wife, appears a little lost and confused, suggesting that she might add another turn to the goings-on. Dies she? The ever dependable Alec Baldwin (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator, Mission Impossible) is confident and effective, though the scene in which he is killed was an example of poor imagination. Vanessa Kirby (British; Jupiter Ascending, Bone in the Throat, Kill Command) is charmingly deceptive and unruffled amidst the killing spree around her. Liang Yang brings in time-tested Eastern fighting moves.

A mixed crowd of cine-lovers and perhaps MI aficionados applauded four clever twists in the tale, but I thought only three-and-a-half of them were well-written. My rating is based on how much stayed with me some hours after the film was over. As you can see, it was quite a bit, but not too much. MI-1 was released in 1996, so it is going at the same pace as the Bond films, that space themselves at about the same frequency, about one in three years. British spy James Bond has been on the screen for 56 years, with over half a dozen changes in the leading role actors, while Tom Cruise has already lasted 22 years. That itself is a laudable feat. It might sound mission impossible, but of Cruise can get Superman to star opposite him, why not an actor who has been, or is, a Bond?

So, all you MI fans, fall in to the theatres where the film is being ‘running’. There should be many to carry the film through to decent box office collections. Some others, who most likely include James Bond lovers, might want to fall out.

Rating: *** ½


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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