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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 11:57 am | A Few Clouds 60º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’

3 Stars — Thoughtful

For Mission: Impossible fans, Fallout is a treat. Although the series often has fallen into a more action film genre with only a few of the expected twists and turns of an MI story, Fallout is a resplendent return to the formulae!

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who partnered with longtime MI writer Bruce Geller to write the screenplay, they understand what makes Mission: Impossible the successful franchise that it is.

As has been true now for all six of the MI films since 1996, the lead operative, Ethan Hunt, is played by Tom Cruise.

With a cool determination that shows both courage and intelligence, Ethan once more is asked not just to save the world, but to do so with style. His usual crew is a wonderful ensemble cast of Luther Stickell, who is played in all six films by Ving Rhames, and Benji Dunn, who is played in the last four films by Simon Pegg.

In this film, and two of the middle films, we have Ethan’s wife/ex-wife Julia Meade-Hunt, who continues to be played by Michelle Monaghan. And in the last two films, we have the only other woman Ethan has loved, an English operative named Lisa Faust played by Rebecca Ferguson. Lisa provides a wonderful complexity to the tale as does the interplayed emotions that Julia creates.

Because of the twist in the tale, it is difficult to say much more about the other characters who join in this journey except to say that they are played well with believable intrigue.

The moral issues involved are many, but one of the repeated ones is: Do you sacrifice the life of one to save the many? In the moral thinking of people like Lawrence Kohlberg, who identified six levels of moral reasoning, he suggests that the highest level of morality is to save the one, noting that each and every person has a value equal to all the rest. As seen in the film, this is both admired and mocked. The villains, of course, use this value against the operatives, but the bureaucrats do as well. One such leader saw it as her responsibility to care for the many at the expense of the one. 

A second moral decision comes in the form of Ethan and Julia’s decision to divorce so that Ethan can save the world. The subplot of that is found in Julia’s life and creates a fascinating completion within the world of espionage. The question of whether such a person as Ethan can live any kind of personal life or must sacrifice this for the sake of the world is explored in the opening scene in classic MI style.

Perhaps it is this fallout from the war of spycraft in which operatives live impaired lives that provides the deeper and intriguing aspects of this well-done film.


» Which do you think is the highest level of moral thinking: saving the one at the expense of the many, or saving the many at the expense of the one? Give your reasoning.

» In the life of James Bond, Ethan Hunt, the Kingsman and even the men of Bonanza, there is no room for marriage and family. Why do you think this is often the formulae for such films? Do you believe this to be true in real life in some way, or does it just open the door for serial romance by the leading characters?

» Do films like this make such a large request of believability that you find them hard to appreciate, or do you enter into the fantasy and enjoy it?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and lead superintendent of Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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