Film and drama

Screen Themes — Mission Impossible: Fallout vs Extinction

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It’s movie time, as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out the latest big screen blockbuster from Tom Cruise and a little-seen sci-fi pic with a big twist…

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (2018) 

Even if you’ve been living under a rock, there is a fair chance that you’re aware that a new Mission Impossible movie has just opened. Permanently grinning star Tom Cruise has been working the publicity circuit like he’s getting a cut of the profits (which he is), introducing a new tactic of taking talk show hosts skydiving, with some amusing results.

From a plot perspective, MI:F sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) getting his team back together to face an old enemy, anarchist and former spy Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and a mysterious figure named John Lark. After losing some plutonium by choosing to save team member Luther (Ving Rhames, surely the least unobtrusive spy in the world), Hunt and the team are saddled with magnificently mustachioed CIA agent August Walker, played by Henry Cavill in his best role to date.

Somewhat bizarrely, much of the early publicity that surfaced around MI:F concerned Cavill’s mustache, specifically the fact that he had to do re-shoots for Justice League but Paramount refused to let him shave. This led to some very odd scenes of a CGI-shaven Superman wooing Lois Lane in a corn field – which clearly wasn’t enough to save that film from being near-universally panned. In retrospect, this was a good decision for MI:F, as a fake mustache on Cavill could well have looked ridiculous.

At over two-and-a-half hours long, MI:F manages to balance over-the-top action with character development, and as long as you don’t think too deeply about the plot details, chances are that you’ll have a rip-roaring time. With Daniel Craig accepting a reported $100 million to return to the Bond franchise, it seems that the spy genre is far from dead, but the British superspy has a high bar to reach if he’s going to match Mission Impossible: Fallout.


Directed by Ben Young ​(2018)

From one perspective, Extinction is an interesting movie, in that it’s the first starring role of perennial sidekick Michael Pena, and was on the famed Black List before being picked up by Universal. Originally scheduled for theatrical release, the movie was acquired by Netflix and released in late July to little fanfare.

From a different perspective, Extinction isn’t an interesting movie, due to the fact that Micheal Pena isn’t a good enough actor to carry a movie and the plot goes from trite to entirely ridiculous in one fell swoop. It doesn’t help that the supporting cast of Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Lizzy Caplan (the poor man’s Marion Cotillard) seem like they don’t want to be there, making the relatively brief runtime seem like an eternity.

“So what’s Extinction actually about?” I hear two or three of you ask, even after watching the trailer above. Well, Extinction tells the story of average working man Peter (Michael Pena) who is haunted by dreams of an alien invasion. When his dreams start to manifest in the real world, Peter must fight to save his wife and two young daughters from impending annihilation. And then there’s a twist.

I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I can say that my son and I looked at each other when it happened and both said “What the hell?” If that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for in a movie, then Extinction might be worth a look. There’s also some graphic violence here and there, but it doesn’t have any real relevance to the plot. Even writing about this movie makes me sleepy…

The Verdict

Mission Impossible: Fallout is one of the best action movies I’ve seen in the last 12 months, with spectacular set pieces, great supporting characters and amazing cinematography. Extinction is not.

The only way I could recommend watching Extinction over Mission Impossible: Fallout is if you are dead broke (but with a Netflix subscription) or housebound due to some sort of social phobia — but even in this case there are a bunch of other Mission Impossible movies you can watch.

Mission Impossible: Fallout — 9/10

Extinction — 3/10

Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: EuropeDamnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).

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