Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Courageous Choices

Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Courageous Choices
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Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Courageous Choices

Gunshots and car chases don’t usually produce beauty. There may be touching scenes mixed in with the action – a child being saved or true loves being reunited – but these moments are mere respites rather than standalone products; the transition from relentlessness to the careful attention required for true beauty is simply too hard.

Mission Impossible: Fallout grappled with the quandary of a human life’s value: should individuals be disposable if that disposability saves a greater number of lives? If it’s really a certainty like press this button and kill a single person or press this other button and kill millions, the answer seems obvious. Life, though, is devoid of this level of certainty.

Instead, we get a battle between probabilities and human emotions. When emotions win, as they do for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the probabilities are reduced to a simple, bold internal declaration: I can save both the single person and the millions.

This thinking is how Mission Impossible: Fallout offered the audience a rare, beautiful scene amid a standard action sequence. Just kill a cop. Thousands of action films have done it before. Thousands will do it after. It’s just one person, after all. And Ethan is trying to save millions. Killing is not only excusable, it’s encouraged in situations like this.

Part of the encouragement comes from a fundamental distance between the audience and death. We see the explosions. We see the cars do triple flips down highways. We hear incessant gunshots. But we rarely have to feel the humanity of those suffering.

Mission Impossible: Fallout wanted us to feel it every once in a while. It was there when Ethan pleads with that police officer to just walk away and refuses to shoot her even though the alternative seems far worse. Then she’s shot by a “bad guy,” is moments from being finished off, and the camera turns to focus on her and only her. The humanity of those who suffer on full display. Then the humanity of Ethan. It was brief and slow and beautiful.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” made me THINK.

It’s right there in the title. This film, like the other ones in the series, is going to be preposterous because the missions are freaking impossible.

Without fully diving into cheese, there was a lovely sense of humor about this fact throughout.

The “sanity-checks” were usually delivered by Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and usually countered by Hunt’s supreme confidence. 

Even though you knew that Dunn was right, it was completely understandable to believe in Hunt’s I-don’t-know-how-I’ll-get-it-done-but-I-will-get-it-done attitude.

Because as en vogue as it may be to question the “flyboy” whose plan is little more than action, there really can’t be a much better plan in the face of doing something that has never been done before. Hence, impossible.

 James Watson, who identified the double helix structure of DNA, said, “If you are going to make a big jump in science you will very likely be unqualified to succeed, by definition.”

Thus you may very well need someone like Hunt to lead, because anyone consumed by perfectly reasoned plans, qualifications and what’s “realistic” would never be willing to assume the risk necessary to do the impossible.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” made me LAUGH.

You are about to die. You are truly in love. Your lover is healthly and will presumably live for many more years. Unless you are unconscionably jealous and self-consumed, you’ll say something like this to your partner: “I hope you find someone else.”

Unless you are incredibly driven by the greater good, you would never have to utter such a statement and exit an excellent relationship while perfectly healthy. But that’s who Ethan Hunt is.

In a world where there are nearly zero truly selfless acts (because the giver always receives some benefit), Hunt’s decision comes close to fitting the definition. Instead of living a wonderful life with the love of his life, he decides he’ll work in secret to save the world (yes, he absolutely receives some benefit from doing this), and to do so he must end his marriage.

And because Hunt’s not unconscionably jealous and self-consumed, he wishes her to find happiness without him, which is probably going to include another man. And then Hunt, in my favorite scene of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, discovers that, yep, she has remarried.

Mixed emotions? Or is Hunt so far beyond normal humanity that he can be 100% happy for her? And, what about the new husband? How do you feel following a golden god like Hunt? How is it knowing that you are the guy after her “true love,” after a guy that gave her up to save the world?

This all made me ponder being the husband after Pat Tillman, who is the first person I think of whenever I hear the phrase “American hero.”

And I thought about this quote from his former teammate Jake Plummer:

I was in the store the other day and I saw People magazine, and it had the cover of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, or America, and there was a picture of Pat. It was kind of ironic because I really looked and said, What is beauty? Is beauty a pretty face, a nice smile, flowing hair, nice skin? Not to me, it’s not. To me beauty is living life to higher standards, stronger morals and ethics and believing in them, whether people tell you you’re right or wrong. Beauty is not wasting a day. Beauty is noticing life’s little intricacies and taking time out of your busy day to really enjoy those little intricacies. Beauty is being real, being genuine, being pure with no facade—what you see is what you get. Beauty is expanding your mind, always seeking knowledge, not being content, always going after something and challenging yourself. I believe that to really honor Pat, we should all challenge ourselves. No more ‘I’m going to do this’ or ‘I’m going to do that.’ Do it. As Pat would say, probably, ‘Get off your ass and do it.’ Why, you ask, should we honor him this way? Because that’s what Pat did his whole life.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” made me CRY.

 

Adam Schaefer

Adam Schaefer

Adam likes banana flavoring more than bananas. His first R-rated movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 3." He is also a semi-famous somniloquist.
Adam Schaefer

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