Mission Impossible Fallout has best action scenes ever. Here are 5 more
Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible - Fallout has one of the best action scenes of all time. Here are five more.weekend binge Updated: Jul 28, 2018 08:33 IST
Around the half-way mark in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the sixth film in Tom Cruise’s action series, Ethan Hunt lands in Paris - not in the traditional way, on a plane, but by performing a HALO jump from thousands of feet in the sky. A lot has been written about the jump, which, like the film’s half a dozen other action scenes, Cruise insisted on doing himself, and it shows. The scene looks utterly convincing in IMAX. But in the larger scheme of things, it’s a just a tease for what’s about to happen.
Hunt and his team - Luther, Benji and the newcomer Walker, played by Henry Cavill - are in the City of Love to help break out Solomon Lane, whom you’d remember as the villain from Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. It’s a neat subversion of the series’ tropes - usually, the villains are the ones doing the escaping. In classic Mission: Impossible fashion, the set up is crystal clear - we understand the objective, we’re made aware of the obstacles, and we know that there is a very real threat of Hunt and his team being caught, or killed.
But director Christopher McQuarrie has always had a very astute eye for genre tropes - he’s just as comfortable giving fans what they want as he is at upending their expectations. The Paris chase is a great example of how a straightforward sequence can take you down roads you’ve never seen - often quite literally. In the span of 10-15 minutes, McQuarrie shows us a side to Paris we’ve never really seen - like the sequence itself, it’s familiar, yet refreshing.
Hunt breaks Lane out, and then gets enveloped in a breakneck race against the authorities - over land and water. And McQuarrie’s camera finds gripping new ways to tell the story, all the while providing white-knuckle thrills. He puts special focus on sound - when an engine revs, our seats quiver, and when Ethan crashes into traffic, we feel his pain.
It’s easily one of the best action sequences of recent times, better than anything in Rogue Nation, and maybe even better than the Burj Khalifa scene from Ghost Protocol. It’s what they call pure cinema - a rare occurrence in these days of lazy CGI and lazier exposition.
But happily, while Batman and Superman have a weightless brawl up in the sky, there are filmmakers pushing the boundaries of action movie-making back on Earth. Here are five of the best action sequences of recent times, slightly removed from the mainstream stuff - even though Fallout owes a major debt of gratitude to the films of Christopher Nolan, George Miller and Paul Greengrass.
Raid 2: Berandal
Virtually every scene in Gareth Evans’ two-part Indonesian action saga is an all-timer. With very little money but a whole lot of ambition, Evans and his cinematographers, Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono, showcased a style of action we’d never really seen before and propelled the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat to worldwide fame. The Raid 2, just like the previous movie, had several scenes that could easily be included here, but one sticks out, especially because Mission: Impossible - Fallout has a scene that feels very much like an homage to it.
It’s the bathroom brawl, shot in that trademark fluid style that Evans had perfected. To find ways to film inside such a cramped space, Evans and his team came up with an ingenious movable set, which could be manipulated during the fight. Watching the actors perform the scene, while at the same time gaping in awe at the crew moving the bathroom stalls and swirling the camera around, is sort of like what I imagine watching ballet would be.
Children of Men
Director Alfonso Cuaron won himself a Best Director Oscar for Gravity, for a culmination of techniques he’d been perfecting for years. The first glimpse at his incredible talent for staging single-shot action came in the sci-fi gem Children of Men. Like the Raid - or any great action film for that matter - there is more than one memorable scene in the film, but the unbroken seven-minute sequence that follows Clive Owen’s character from the streets and into a rundown building is a marvel. What makes it a notch above everything else is Cuaron’s grounded perspective - we’re looking at the action over Owen’s shoulders, shackled to him until death do us part.
Every Marvel bro who watched the hallway fight from the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil should be told that the scene found its origins in Park Chan-wook’s crime masterpiece Oldboy. The Oldboy scene itself was an homage to side-scroller video games such as Mario or Street Fighter, but in keeping with the overarching theme we’ve got going here, Park gave audience something they’d never seen before. It was brutal, highly emotional, and absolutely thrilling to watch - once again, mostly because we were already rooting for the character to have his revenge.
In his tragically butchered remake, director Spike Lee attempted his own spin on the classic scene, but the producers took the film away from him and cut the scene themselves - ‘cut’ being the operative word.
Who knew David Cronenberg could direct an action sequence on par with the Batman-Bane fight from The Dark Knight Rises? Taking everyone by surprise, including perhaps himself, Cronenberg shot the hand-to-hand fight - once again, set in a bathroom - with gruesome realism, scored only the sounds of flesh-on-flesh. Watching it unfold, and watching Viggo Mortensen’s unrefined and rusty moves, almost gives you the impression of being there with him - the slick blood dissolving into the water, every slice of the knife sending a shooting pain up your spine.
So far we’ve only discussed small-scale action here - fist fights and such - but here’s an epic action scene for you. The objectively insane Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has made everything from lurid animated movies, candy-coloured children’s films, to blood-soaked samurai epics. 13 Assassins is probably his most accessible film. It’s sort of divided into two distinct halves - both showcasing Miike’s skills as a visual storyteller. For an hour or so, the film plays like a serene drama, as the titular assassins are recruited for a mission of honour. The second half, meanwhile, is why we’re here. For approximately 30 minutes, Miike unleashes action so intense, so imaginative, and yet so personal, that it makes you wonder how come he hasn’t taken his talents to Hollywood yet.
First Published: Jul 28, 2018 08:33 IST