Ethan Hunt returned to rave reviews this weekend, bringing along with him Alec Baldwin, two love interests who look almost identical, and Henry Cavill’s upper lip. Mission: Impossible — Fallout is the sixth film in the M:I franchise, yet it may be the best film out of all of them. It’s sitting at 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with people calling it a “truly maximalist work of art.” But what did The Ringer staff think? Following the movie, staffers filled out a short survey and divulged their thoughts on villains, helicopter stunts, and Tom Cruise’s seemingly unceasing desire to nearly get himself killed.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Mission: Impossible — Fallout?
Michael Baumann: A very pretty, supremely thrilling string of one-liners. A superb old-fashioned shoot-em-up/espionage thriller, featuring a scene-stealing Vanessa Kirby as the horniest person ever depicted in mainstream cinema. If they made a new one of these every three days I’d pay $10 to see every single one.
Miles Surrey: They’re gonna need to blast Tom Cruise into space if they want to one-up themselves.
Amanda Dobbins: [Sings the Mission: Impossible theme song loudly, with coordinated fist-pumping.]
Sean Yoo: One of the all-time best action movies that’s jam packed with intensely stressful set pieces caused by Ethan Hunt’s altruism. Also, Alec Baldwin literally throws multiple punches at someone.
Chris Ryan: The Mission: Impossible franchise is going to be in the first line of Tom Cruise’s obits, because the movies are incredible, and he is probably going to die while making one.
2. What was the best moment of the film?
Surrey: The close-quarters nightclub bathroom fight was epic. There was a great moment when my theater collectively starting cheering for the bad guy because he was somehow beating the crap out of Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill simultaneously. He deserves an Anonymous Henchman Oscar.
Ryan: The chases through Paris were a party-drug cocktail of The Fast and the Furious and The French Connection. I didn’t even care about the copious amounts of automotive Bourne Identity plagiarism.
Second place goes to the bathroom fight. I, too, hate it when my mask-making laptop goes on the fritz.
Dobbins: Now that theater rom-coms are dead, my no. 1 blockbuster genre is “international spy or heist thriller set in beautiful locations,” so: that motorcycle chase through Paris, culminating in the extraordinary shot of Tom Cruise speeding around the Arc de Triomphe. I’m pretty sure I was grinning at the screen.
Yoo: I was unable to breathe during the final act of the film but the insanity of the bathroom scene was all I could think about when I left the movie.
Baumann: At the end of the nuclear-weapon countdown, when we look over Tom Cruise’s shoulder to see the sunset, only it takes a couple of seconds for it to become clear that he’s looking at the sun and not the flash of a nuclear explosion. They didn’t actually blow up the world and kill off most of the main cast, because this is still a corporate marketing exercise and not a Troma Entertainment production, but it felt like a reminder that because this isn’t as much of a corporate marketing exercise as Age of Ultron, they could have if they’d wanted to.
3. What was the worst part of the movie?
Surrey: Probably when the adrenaline finally wore off on my subway ride home.
Ryan: Wes Bentley and Michelle Monaghan talking about how fulfilled they were in life. Save it for Facebook, guys.
Dobbins: Don’t think I needed the “rope violence” motif in the last cabin fight scene?
Baumann: Sean Harris’s beard. I know he’s just spent two years getting waterboarded and is supposed to look rough, but that beard’s so bad it makes me self-conscious about my beard.
4. Please explain the plot of this film to the best of your ability.
Baumann: So there are these anarchists who steal plutonium from Tom Cruise, and they give it to the bad guy from the last movie so he can make nuclear bombs that will irradiate the water supply of China, India, and Pakistan. Also, the chief philosopher for these anarchists is posing as a CIA ass-kicker who’s sent to look over Tom Cruise’s shoulder because Uncle Sam doesn’t trust Tom Cruise anymore. Antics ensue.
Ryan: A guy with a mask fetish and a total disregard for traffic laws teams up with a podcast host, a Wolf Blitzer impersonator, a dude who likes vans, and a woman who looks like his ex-wife to save the world from nuclear destruction by crashing a helicopter into another helicopter.
Surrey: Angela Bassett also said “plutonium” a couple of times.
Yoo: Look, all you need to know is that there was a mission where Ethan and friends had to prevent a world-ending nuclear detonation. Also, Alec Baldwin got into a fist fight.
Dobbins: Thank you so much for asking. OK, so: Ethan Hunt—who is a very good man, it’s important that you know that, the film is really clear on this—let former MI6 agent–turned-crime-syndicate-overlord Solomon Lane live, and then Solomon Lane got his hands on some plutonium and found some friends to build him not one, but two bombs. He also recruited a super-jacked CIA assassin to go undercover and frame Ethan for all of these shenanigans, and then he lured both of Ethan’s former lovers—who love him a lot, because he’s great—to the scene of the bomb detonation. Except! Ethan Hunt and Co. are there with masks and science know-how, so they manage to capture Lane, expose the assassin, diffuse the bombs, and save the world. I thought it was quite clear!
5. Was Henry Cavill’s Fallout mustache worth ruining Superman’s upper lip in Justice League?
Surrey: Yes, because if the DC Extended Universe really were as carefree as they like to position themselves post–Wonder Woman, they would’ve been cool with a mustachioed Man of Steel. Also, let’s be real: Henry Cavill looks great with a ’stache.
Dobbins: I gotta say: I feel like Henry Cavill has found his niche as “burly and ultimately doomed villain.” I thought he looked handsome and dispensable.
Baumann: Henry Cavill’s mustache is stupendous, but the most impressive thing about him is that after 30 years of Hollywood moving heaven and earth to hide the fact Tom Cruise is about 5-foot-1, they let Henry Cavill positively tower over him. I guess you miss this when Henry Cavill’s in movies with Ben Affleck and Armie Hammer, but the man is humongous, and he uses that humongousness to great effect. He was wonderful in this movie—I wouldn’t change a thing.
Ryan: Can we talk for a second about how Tom Cruise needs to dominate every newer model that comes down the factory line? It’s not that he won’t let the Mission: Impossible franchise go; he now spends these movies vaporizing any young star who tries to pry it from his hands. Jeremy Renner was supposed to take the franchise over in Ghost Protocol, and instead he spent two movies getting dunked on from Burj Khalifa–heights. This guy would rather not even actually appear in an Avengers movie than play in Cruise’s backing band. Then! They cast the Man of Steel only turn him into the villain, make him as ugly as possible by burning his face with hot oil, and then drop him off a cliff with a metal hook lodged in his dome on his way to a fiery death in helicopter wreckage. Thanks for playing, Hank. Nice biceps. Watch your back, Miles Teller!
6. What was the wildest stunt Tom Cruise did in Fallout?
Surrey: Somehow, breaking his ankle jumping onto a building yet still finishing the scene and doing over 100 HALO jumps come behind learning how to pilot a helicopter in six weeks by training 16 hours a day and then executing gnarly heli-tricks.
Ryan: Somehow resisting the urge to throw away this falling-out-of-buildings bullshit of a life in exchange for the fabulous adventure of touring western European cabarets with Vanessa Kirby, Fake Tom Hardy, and a dozen MMA fighters in three-piece suits.
Dobbins: My personal favorite was the Paris chase, and I was also extremely stressed during the cliff fight with Cavill at the end. But you have to give it to the parachute sequence, I think. It is astonishing that so many businessmen let him do that.
Yoo: Hanging from a rope attached to a helicopter that is thousands of feet in the air was easily the wildest stunt from the film.
Baumann: The real answer is probably the helicopter chase, but at the very end, when he’s hanging off the cliff, that scared the hell out of me. (I know solo free climbing is a thing people do.)
7. Is Tom Cruise the greatest action star in Hollywood?
Yoo: Cruise is the GOAT. But Keanu Reeves will have something to say about it after we get five more John Wick movies.
Surrey: YES. Who the fuck else learns how to fly a helicopter in six weeks for an action scene? Tom Cruise goes above and beyond what we ask of on-screen entertainers. And he’s about the same age as my dad.
Baumann: No, the greatest action star in Hollywood is whoever David Leitch is pointing a camera at. Henry Cavill is no. 2, then Cruise.
Ryan: The only other person in the running is the Rock, and, miraculously, Tom Cruise is a bigger action star than the Rock this summer.