A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mission: Impossible -- Fallout is the sixth movie in Tom Cruise's hit spy action franchise -- and the most intense. It steps up the action from previous entries in the series, which is quite a feat. The vehicle chases are much more intense than in previous episodes, and the fighting feels more visceral; blows look like they actually hurt. There are also shootings, knife fights, and deaths, but blood is rare (typical for these movies). And there's still humor; the movie doesn't feel slow or heavy, despite its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time. Expect a bit of strong language ("s--t," "bitch," etc., plus one use of "f---ing"), but there's not much in the way of sex or substance use content to worry about. Main character Ethan Hunt (Cruise) remains a stand-up guy in a world full of betrayal; in general, the good guys are consistently willing to sacrifice themselves to save others. Henry Cavill and Rebecca Ferguson co-star.
What's the story?
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE -- FALLOUT is a direct sequel to its predecessor, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation. The villain from that movie, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), looms large over this one as superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) races against the clock to stop Lane's followers from acquiring and detonating nuclear weapons. Hunt is helped/hindered by CIA bruiser August Walker (Henry Cavill) and enigmatic British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who also appeared in Rogue Nation.
Is it any good?
This may well be the best Mission: Impossible movie yet. Mission: Impossible -- Fallout steps up the action -- as impossible a mission as that might sound -- and the stakes, with the personal screws tightened on Hunt and horrible consequences for failure. Though spy-movie watchers will expect the requisite twists, betrayals, and MacGuffins, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie's compelling filmmaking grabs your attention and doesn't let go. Fallout delivers the death-defying stunts the series demands. The execution of, for example, the series' best car chase -- really, a car/motorcycle chase -- is so expertly done that you're less aware of the slickness than the jeopardy. Fallout also has the best fight of the series thus far (hint: it takes place in a bathroom). It's exciting and visceral, with real emotional impact. Cruise's performance is lean and focused, and hopefully Ferguson is now a fixture in the series; she can act and fight. It's also fun to see Superman (Cavill) brawling like an utter brute.
Rob Hardy's (Ex Machina) cinematography captures everything we need to track the action while also conveying different atmospheres, moods, and textures. Each of the film's locations -- exotic, dingy, or otherwise -- is well-served. Eddie Hamilton's editing is superb; he's amassing a spectacular resume (X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service). Lorne Balfe's versatile score builds on previous entries while recalling Hans Zimmer's Bat-music and Jóhann Jóhannson's nerve-rattling Sicario. Fight coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann and stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood pull rabbits out of their hats. So does featured fight performer Liang Yang; let's see more of that guy! Given the deeply ingrained habits of this genre, it's hard to surprise veteran fans. But McQuarrie and company get fresh reactions with the effective and thrilling Fallout by involving us in the dilemmas, making us feel the atmosphere and ticking clock, and hitting every action beat, dead center.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Mission: Impossible -- Fallout. Does it seem more intense than in previous M:I movies? Was there any difference in its emotional impact as a result? Is it what you expect from this type of movie?
Were you surprised by any of the movie's twists and betrayals, or have you come to expect them after seeing other spy movies?
Did the stakes seem different to you here than in other M:I movies? If so, why? Did the way the filmmakers treat Ethan's personal relationships have an effect on the stakes?
Ethan and his team are technically operating outside of the law. Are they still "good guys"? Where are the lines that separate them from their enemies? Do you consider Ethan a role model?
Talk about Ilsa. How often is a woman shown holding her own against a formidable male lead in an action film? What message does it send that Ilsa does that here?
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