“Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” the sixth (and best) entry in Tom Cruise’s action franchise, is 147 minutes of relentless action, convoluted and shocking twists and lots of Tom Cruise running.
Between the stunning fights, chases and helicopter shootouts, you can be forgiven for losing track of the plot, which doesn’t really matter anyway. That’s because “Fallout” opens with a giant exposition dump that encourages you to just sit back and have fun; don’t bother trying to make sense of it all.
So that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, we’re here to help fill in the blanks.
Two years after Ethan Hunt (Cruise) captured Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the baddie from “Rogue Nation,” Lane’s agents, now known as The Apostles, are running rampant. They’re in pursuit of three plutonium cores to use within portable nuclear devices. Already these stakes are delightfully absurd.
Ethan plans to purchase and intercept the plutonium himself, but he loses it when he’s forced to choose between it and the life of his friend and teammate Luther (Ving Rhames).
The terrorists are working with an agent known only by the alias John Lark, who will rendezvous with a broker called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) to obtain the plutonium and arm the nuclear bombs. Fun Easter Egg: When we first meet the White Widow, she refers to her mom “Max,” who was the arms dealer played by Vanessa Redgrave in the very first “Mission: Impossible” film.
If there’s one thread that’s been common among all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, it’s that Ethan and the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) are always in need of supervision and oversight from the CIA. In this case, CIA chief Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) blames Ethan and the IMF for losing the plutonium in the first place, and assigns agent August Walker (a mustachioed Henry Cavill) to tag along with Ethan.
The two of them HALO jump out of a plane to sneak into a rave in Paris where Lark and the White Widow plan to meet. Ethan and Walker get in a wall-busting fist fight with the person they suspect could be Lark, leading Ethan to pose as Lark and meet with the White Widow himself. She informs him that in exchange for the plutonium, they need to break Lane out of holding as he’s being moved through Paris.
But after Ethan meets with the Widow, Walker and Sloan have a private meeting in which Walker accuses Ethan of truly being Lark. The man they killed in Paris was actually a decoy, and Ethan, burned by his government one too many times, might be secretly operating under the IMF’s nose.
Here’s where things get really complicated, resulting in one of the franchise’s best exchanges of double-crossing and face mask trickery yet.
After capturing Lane, IMF chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) shares with Ethan the CIA’s accusation against him and that the White Widow has been an undercover CIA agent the whole time. And Walker is no babysitter, but an assassin tasked with killing Ethan should he go rogue.
With Ethan now under the microscope, he subdues Hunley and then proceeds to disguise Benji (Simon Pegg) as Lane, planning to hand him over to the terrorists in exchange for the plutonium, leaving Walker alone with the real Lane. It’s here where we learn that Walker, not Ethan, is the real John Lark. (gasp!)
Walker starts conspiring with Lane, saying Lane is more interested in getting revenge on Ethan than in setting their plan in motion. But in a bizarre double switch, Walker realizes he’s been duped and realizes it was Benji in a Lane mask the whole time. Rather than just bring in Walker, Sloan double-crosses Hunley and the IMF, and sicks a CIA SWAT team to bring the whole lot of them in. Walker escapes with Lane — and soon the plutonium — in the mayhem, and Hunley is killed.
After a lengthy foot chase in which Cruise broke his foot performing a stunt, Walker lays a photo of his ex-wife Julia in front of Ethan and explains that he’s her “guardian angel.” “If I see you again, she’s dead.” Ethan and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) then manage to trace Lane and Walker to a medical camp in a remote part of Kashmir where they plan to set off the bombs, only to find that Julia and her new husband (Wes Bentley, weirdly) are stationed there.
A helicopter chase, a cliff-side brawl and 14 minutes and 59 seconds later, the IMF manage to defuse the bombs, Earth is saved, and everything is right in the world again.
Got all that? Now let’s talk about that bananas skydiving sequence, shall we?