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Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Fallout

IMI Fallout postert’s rare for a franchise to almost completely reinvent itself in almost every outing. It’s even more rare for it to deliver, arguably, its best film twenty years in. Writer and director Christoher McQuarrie delivers his best film ever, as though he’s taken everything he’s learned from his past two and a half decades of experience, writing such classics as The Usual Suspects and being frequent Tom Cruise collaborator, to craft a great movie about the stakes of failure.

Failure is one of the great recurring themes in the film, as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt just wins by sheer luck. Several times in the film you think the good guys lose — because they do, repeatedly — and wonder if maybe this film will end with them losing, or with a noble self-sacrifice.

Our story begins with some stolen plutonium, and a failed recovery plan where Ethan chooses to save the lives of his longtime teammates Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) rather than recover the nuclear materials. So the CIA Director (Angela Bassett) does her best Amanda Waller impersonation and assigns one of their most deadly agents, August Walker (Henry Cavill), to provide “oversight” on the IMF team. Translation: he will kill anyone who gets in their way, including Hunt and his team if they go rogue.

Their clashing styles and the chemistry between Cruise and Cavill provide some of the best material of the film. Cavill is an imposing presence and director McQuarrie somehow makes it look like he hits harder here than as Superman. Cavill is also just really good as a spy and an action movie star, but somehow in a completely opposite way from his turn in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

But the emotional core here is with Pegg and returning actors Rebecca Ferguson and Michelle Monaghan. First, all three of them give great performances. Pegg has perhaps the most interesting character arc of any person in the franchise, going from computer geek in MI:III to hero-in-his-own-right in this outing. But it’s each of the characters’ connections to Hunt and his need to protect them that make the stakes of this so much higher and more personal than in previous outings. PS- If you need more reason to love Simon Pegg, you should see his recent apology for mocking Jar Jar Binks here. Really insightful stuff.

The last Mission Impossible film was full of bombastic stunts and plot, but two years later I couldn’t tell you a thing about it or what happened. Its villain, Solomon Lane, was supposedly so much smarter and always a step ahead of Hunt, but you never really felt that. In Fallout, you feel very much like the good guys are constantly being outsmarted and the stakes for failure — nuclear annihilation for a huge portion of the world’s population — are possible.

McQuarrie writes this in the same way as his tour de force The Usual Suspects, with layers upon layers of misdirection and snappy dialogue. He builds tension and releases it, hiding important exposition n moments of humor to help the explaining go down. Like Usual Suspects, there’s real humor in here. And if you’re familiar with the principle of Chekov’s Gun, he loads and cocks so many guns and leaves you waiting for the payoff. Even when you see something coming — especially when you see it coming — you just are left waiting in anticipation for sweet release of the payoff.

He’s also willing to take some risks. There is a point about two hours into the movie when I was convinced it was over, and this would be The Empire Strikes Back of a trilogy about Ethan Hunt and Solomon Lane. Indeed, in a world where Hobbits, Hunger Games, and Harry Potters are split into multiple movies for financial reasons, you can imagine wanting to extend this franchise in that way. But it doesn’t, and gives you this brilliant denouement of a final thirty minutes that gives specific payoff to everything not only from the previous two hours but the last twenty years. Yes, this is two and half hours long. It doesn’t feel like it. Bravo, Chris McQuarrie, bravo.

And then there’s his visual style. Wow, just wow. The cinematography here is brilliant. The pacing is unbelievable. There’s an extended chase scene through Paris that goes on for what seems like twenty minutes, and there’s never a dull moment. Eat your heart out, French Connection. 

This may be the best Mission: Impossible movie. And it is certainly the best spy thriller we’ve had in a long time. This is a cure for what ails the late summertime blues and the rare summer blockbuster that doesn’t require you to turn off your brain to have fun with it.

4.25 out of 5 stars

Star Trek Goes Where No Trek Has Gone Before– Explicitly LGBTQ Characters

Star+Trek+Beyond+SuluStar Trek as a franchise has often touched upon social issues via metaphor and innuendo. The show hasn’t had issues discussing hot button topics or being rather progressive in some of its views, such as being credited for the “first interracial kiss.” However, in the 50 years of the franchise, the series has never had an out LGBTQ character, until today.

In the Herald Sun, it was revealed that Helmsman Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, is shown in Star Trek Beyond as not just having a daughter, but also in a same-sex relationship. Director Justin Lin said the decision to make Sulu gay was a nod by writer Simon Pegg towards George Takei who originally played the character and came out in 2005.

The inclusion of LGBTQ characters in the Star Trek world hasn’t been an easy one.

In 1987 series creator Gene Roddenberry stated there’d be LGBTQ characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but that never materialized. That promise was reiterated in 1991 as reported by The Advocate and supported by Leonard Nimoy who wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Times on the subject. In an interview with The Humanist in 1991 Roddenberry said:

My attitude toward homosexuality has changed. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. I was never someone who hunted down ‘fags’ as we used to call them on the street. I would, sometimes, say something anti-homosexual off the top of my head because it was thought, in those days, to be funny. I never really deeply believed those comments, but I gave the impression of being thoughtless in these areas. I have, over many years, changed my attitude about gay men and women.

Roddenberry passed away soon after those interviews and the plan for gay crew members never materialized.

The series stumbled over the years to address LGBTQ inclusion including a controversial episode “The Outcast” which was both praised and derided. The episode addressed sexual discrimination and involved an androgynous race and gender identity. Some felt the episode didn’t go far enough to exploring the issue and others felt it sanctioned brainwashing therapy. Actor Jonathan Frakes commented he felt the alien the episode revolved around and whose attraction to Riker was at the center should have been more evidently male.

Star Trek television writer and producer Ronald D. Moore admitted that including LGBTQ characters was something that they “just failed at” in a 2008 interview. Actors such as Kate Mulgrew and Whoopi Goldberg have admitted it was a struggle for the various series and there were disagreements regarding decisions to not include such characters.

In 2016 Queer Frontier was launched to petition for the inclusion of an LGBT captain in the 2017 Star Trek television show by CBS, Paramount, and producer Bryan Fuller. The organization applauded this announcement.

J.J. Abrams addressed the issue in 2011 saying he was “shocked” that there were never any gay characters and while it “was not on the list of [his] priorities… it [would] now be in the hopper.” While there were no LGBTQ characters in his two films written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the third times a charm with Simon Pegg having now taken over on writing duties.

Star Trek Beyond opens in theaters July 22, 2016.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for?

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – Toon Books Signs With Diamond Nice to see.

Publishers Weekly – Breakout Graphic Memoir ‘Arab of the Future’ Coming to U.S. This sounds fantastic.

Variety – Simon Pegg: Comic Book, Sci-Fi Movies Are ‘Dumbing Down’ Industry This is the part where we make a joke about how high-brow Pegg’s movies are.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – A-Force #1

The Outhousers – Airboy #1

Nerd Block-Books In The Block!

Nerd Block has announced that starting this month they’ll be putting books into the Nerd Block Classic block! So be prepared to get some awesome reads! They are working with some great A-list authors and celebrities this year, the first of which is Simon Pegg! That’s right, Simon Pegg is in the March Classic block!

Subscribe to the Nerd Block Classic block now, they’re available until the 15th!

Nerd Block Simon Pegg Books

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Nerd Block-Celebrities And Authors!

This March Nerd Block has something cool for us! This year they have started working with some great celebrities and authors, the first of which is Simon Pegg! You won’t want to miss out on the March Classic block; they promise “it’s going to be great!” March subscriptions are now open.

nerd block simon pegg

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.