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Mission Impossible - Fallout (2018): How to Perfectly Build Dread and Suspense

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

The Mission Impossible franchise is one of the quintessential action franchises and a lot like Tom Cruise is refusing to show its age. The films only seem to become more sophisticated and entertaining with each new installment. Not only that but its most recent sequel, Mission Impossible: Fallout is the best one yet!

Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is tasked with obtaining plutonium cores before a terrorist group known as The Apostles can get their hands on it to cause nuclear warfare. When Hunt loses said cores during the exchange, he and his IMF team must reclaim them. But the CIA gets worried and sends agent August Walker (played by Henry Cavill) to babysit, but Walker as other plans as he intends to both use the cores as a bargaining chip to free captured rogue agent Solomon Lane (played by Sean Harris) and commit global genocide.

Who else thought they would still be invested in the Mission Impossible franchise this much? They are becoming Fast and Furious it seems, the only difference is that Mission Impossible sequels are consistently terrific. I am sure most people thought after the fun but disappointing Mission Impossible 2 that the franchise would fizzle out…NOPE! They decide to go bigger and better. And it wouldn’t feel like a stretch if the franchise goes to space in the next few installments.

Ever since Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the action keeps upping itself somehow. We all recognize the now iconic Burj Khalifa sequence right? Tom Cruise scaling the tallest building in the world sort of thing that can’t be topped. Oh wait, Cruise hung off the side of a plane taking off and held his breath for 6 minutes for another stunt. Well that can’t be topped either can it? Apparently that can; Cruise did in fact do a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump from a plane to the ground. Just…mind blowing how many stunts were performed and not just for show either, they truly add to the story and overall suspenseful atmosphere the Mission Impossible movies have created.

Speaking of the practical stunts I just gushed over, arguably one of the series best displays of a tense climax has to be the helicopter chase between Hunt and Walker. Not only is the just a great set piece, but it really grabs you by the throat and refuses to let you breathe throughout. With a ticking clock and many attempts to end the chase, you truly feel the suspense and desperation from our protagonist. Seriously, when the character you are rooting for tries to ram a helicopter into another midair, you have become insanely desperate.

We may come for the completely insane stunts being performed, but that does not mean that the character performances in the film are not short of brilliant. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt for starters; we’ve seen him challenged intellectually and physically, but in Fallout he is challenged morally by Walker and Lane. He may have become a typical action hero, but the amount of humanity and desperation he brought to Ethan this time around felt refreshing. But of course Henry Cavill dominated the screen as August Walker, while he was shown as a protagonist at first, he actually was the antagonist in order to try and break Ethan and have him take the fall for his own crimes. What separates Walker from other Mission Impossible villains was making it personal. Making it personal to Ethan brought out an animalistic intensity we rarely see in action heroes or villains.

Mission Impossible should not be as good as it is, with possibly only one weak film under its belt in a 6 film franchise; and that weak film is even questionable. Cruise continues to show us why he is one of the go to action film stars with the insane stunt work and raw performance. I am curious to see what Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One brings to be able to top what could be considered an action packed masterpiece.

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