Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson
To talk about Mission: Impossible - Fallout, we have to talk about its most important scene. No, it isn’t Henry Cavill (having so much fun with a great director and a great script!) reloading his arms like Mossberg shotguns in a visceral, gritty bathroom brawl that should go down as one of the best action fight scenes ever filmed. It isn’t Tom Cruise para-jumping out of an airplane, which he did himself and also something like 90 times just to get the shot right. It isn’t even the climactic HELICOPTER fight. All of those scenes basically mandated that you see the movie in IMAX—this is moviemaking as anachronism: a true-blue movie star filming stunts that just won’t play the same in your living room. Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise recently filmed a video from the set of their next movie about the horrors of the dreaded Motion setting that comes auto-enabled on every HD TV (an issue not just aimed at technology-daft parents... you’d be surprised by how many people aren’t aware of this scourge!). Clearly, they care.
But the most important scene—the one that says everything about why this movie is so fucking good, why it’s so high on this list and others, and why the Mission series is the most consistent and thus best action franchise ever made—comes late in the film. It’s banal, compared to every other stunt in this movie. It is, simply, Tom Cruise skipping across rooftops in hot pursuit of a mark. Then, on one particularly long jump, he slips. The first shot tracks him for the jump, and when we cut, it’s to a camera on the rooftop as he hobbles up and off camera, still in dogged pursuit. In that moment, the fourth wall is as shattered as Tom Cruise’s ankle or foot or tendon or whatever. Tom injured himself in the stunt, but kept going, and that shot is what made it into the final cut. Tom Cruise, by all accounts, has no home to go to anymore. He’s as dedicated to giving you the best product, the most kick-ass entertainment, as Ethan Hunt is to stopping a nuclear bomb because it’s all he has. So he takes helicopter flying lessons in real life. He dives out of planes more times than actual skydiving instructors have. He breaks a leg for the shot and stays so firmly in character that it’s still the best shot to use. Like my man David Ehrlich said earlier this year, give this man a fucking Oscar [nomination]. —Frazier Tharpe