Here’s what passes for creativity in the new Mission Impossible: Fallout movie: you know how it’s a standard cliche in this kind of movie to have the ticking time bomb with the red LED display counting down to the explosion and you know the hero is going to disarm it in the last second or two? That wasn’t good enough for this movie. No, they had to increase the threat by having two bombs that are synchronized, and if you don’t cut the green wire in both of them simultaneously, they’ll explode, because they’re in radio communication with each other.
But wait! Even that won’t work. The countdown timer is locked in to inevitable detonation, and if you tinker with either of them, they’ll go off. It’s impossible to stop the bomb once triggered.
Except! There is a remote detonator that triggered the countdown, and there is a bug in the software so that if you yank the key out of the detonator AND cut the green wires in both bombs at the same time, then the bombs will fizzle. Of course, the remote detonator has a red LED countdown on it, too.
No spoilers here, so I won’t tell you if the Mission Impossible team manages to coordinate this triple shutdown, and I especially won’t tell you if they do it in the last second. If you can’t figure it out, you deserve to watch this movie.
One other detail I have to share. The terrorist leader who was responsible for this intricate, complex bomb mechanism that would have Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames racing to do precisely choreographed things to the ridiculous circuitry was such a fanatic that he had suicidally decided to stay with his bombs to watch them go off and see his enemies vanquished. And I’m thinking that all he needed was one simple button that he could push that would instantly trigger the nuclear explosion. No timers needed. No fancy schmancy radio links. Just “Ah, Ethan Hunt, my hated enemy. You have landed in my base…”<click>BOOOOM!. The whole elaborate setup was irrelevant.
There were other lapses in reason. Ethan Hunt kills a pilot flying his helicopter, leaps into the seat, taps quizzically on a dial in the complex array of instruments in front of him, and says “I guess that’s my altitude” — this is apparently the first time he’s flown a helicopter — and then proceeds to go on a dizzying high speed, ground- and cliff-hugging helicopter chase through rugged mountain valleys. No problem. He finally catches up with the bad guy’s helicopter, and his solution is a kamikaze collision that has both of them smoking and on fire in shattered machines crashing onto a mountaintop. They both survive. Then the choppers roll down the mountainside and over a cliff. They both survive. Then they fall through a cliffside chimney, all herkey-jerkey like, and during the descent Ethan Hunt jumps into the bad guy’s chopper and they punch each other. The helicopters crash to the ground. They both survive. They punch and kick some more. One helicopter rolls over yet another cliff, and is hanging by a long cable. But of course they end up clinging to that cable at a terrifying height, punching and kicking each other. Then the cable snaps. Helicopter falls, finally explodes.
Only one survives. If you can’t figure out who, then this is the movie for you.
Also, Alec Baldwin gets murdered a couple of times, I lost track. He keeps coming back anyway. I could tell you that the entire cast gets vaporized in a nuclear explosion or flaming helicopter crash, and it wouldn’t matter. The key grip or the caterer would just rip off a rubber mask, revealing Tom Cruise was in disguise the whole time, and the movie could proceed.
It was predictable and trite throughout. There was only one mystery: Henry Cavill’s mustache. Cavill had appeared as Superman in that bomb, Justice League, and was shooting Mission Impossible: Fallout when he was called back for some reshoots. As Superman, he was cleanshaven; as Walker, CIA agent, he’s got an ugly stubbly beard and mustache. They decided that rather than delaying the reshoots and simply shaving, they would spend $3 million to erase his mustache with some bad, obvious CGI.
Clearly, his mustache was very important to this movie. I kept watching and waiting for the moment when it crawls off his face to do some derring-do, like a gunfight or a motorcycle chase, since it’s got a $3 million value (hey, I’ll shave my mustache off for $3 million!). Spoiler alert: it never does. It just sits there on his lip, the entire movie, daydreaming about its bank account.
There is one remaining mystery. Cavill was in one ghastly stinker of a movie, Justice League, and now he’s come back with yet another stinker, Mission Impossible: Fallout. Is his career like those falling helicopters? Boom, crash, it doesn’t matter. Crash again. Stagger out, waving his fists. Tumble off a cliff, kick, punch. But at some point, the writers will insist on a giant flaming explosion and a death he can’t survive. Probably.
(Suddenly, PZ Myers claws at a wad of latex over his face, peeling it back to reveal…the craggy, strong-jawed good looks of Henry Cavill! Cue Mission Impossible theme. Cue ka-ching, ka-ching as cash pours into his bank account. Cue next crappy movie.)