This is now the sixth Mission: Impossible film and the third in the 2010s reboot. Things are tired: there are too many damn characters and the plot echoes the plots of previous movies (i.e. some element in the US government doesn’t trust/disavows Hunt and the IMF, again). I’m bored and I’m not laughing as much as I did at the mild comedy that is characteristic of this second half of the series. But it’s still very well made and so I struggle a little bit with my rating.
Tom Cruise is looking older and this shtick is wearing thinner. Not only is he visibly too old to be doing this stuff – lest we forget, he does his own stunts! – but he is starting to get into Roger Moore territory, whereas not only does he look slightly too old to be doing this but those women are looking a little too young. (Fortunately the age gap isn’t in Roger Moore territory, nor is Cruise’s age.) Cruise is still exceptionally good at what he does but you can see the age in his face in a way you couldn’t in previous movies. This isn’t Harrison Ford in Crystal Skull – and, to be fair, it really isn’t quite in Roger Moore territory yet – but the veneer is starting to fall away.
The plot is probably my biggest problem, here. Not only does it echo the plots of the previous two films – as much as I can remember them – but it also has about a thousand double crosses – every character feels like they get at least one – and it’s just exhausting. You know what’s impressive in this day and age? A well-executive action film with one plot twist, or without any. That would be radical at this point. Anyway, I’m just tired of every single major character – except Ving Rhames! and some people whose identities are spoilers! – having an ulterior motive. Aren’t you?
The stunts are excellent, as always. There’s nothing quite as iconic as the building stunt but they are still plenty of neat ones. And some of the jokes land as they always do. (It’s not like the acting in these movies is ever anything less than competent. Though that script gets ridiculous more often in this movie than I noticed in the previous films. Cavill has some bad lines.)
But you will not mistake New Zealand/Norway for Pakistan. I have never been to Kashmir but I’m pretty fucking sure there isn’t a massive Fjord in the middle of it. You know I’m picky about location shooting when it makes no sense, and I feel like the decision to shoot New Zealand (with a little bit of Norway) for Kashmir reeks of a lack of respect for the audience. (Yes, it’s not safe to shoot in Kashmir. I get that. It’s also not necessary to shoot a New Zealand fjord at the Himalayas.) The same lack of respect that is embodied in this film’s plot, with it’s constant “Who’s playing who?!?!” machinations.
I jumped back and forth between 5 – good production values! – and 4 – inane and tired plot, bad dialogue, poor climactic location! – and I think I’ve settled at 4. It’s not as good as the last two films, and I think it’s pretty obvious. And neither of those were particularly great, despite the critical reception. (It’s as if certain people are so tired of the quality of a certain other blockbuster action franchise with too many characters that they decide Mission: Impossible is a masterpiece because it’s much better than that series.)