August 25th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Current policies leave farmers high and dry in drought

CANBERRA OBSERVED Captain and Lieutenant's $444 million munificence

MEDICAL ETHICS Changes to AHPRA's code of conduct would gag doctors

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump delivers for U.S. economy and workers

CHILDREN AND SOCIETY Treating depressed children: How will history judge us?

PRIVACY Big Brother is marketing you

THE FAMILY Humanae Vitae: a prophetic document at 50

SOCIETY AND MORES Novel features of child sexual abuse in our time

EUTHANASIA International expert emphasises palliative care

BIOGRAPHY The trouble with Harry (Freame) is that we've forgotten him

OPINION Just asking ... sauce for the goose ...?

HISTORY Christianity has died. Agreed, and yet ...

MILITARY HISTORY The volunteering spirit proves best in the test


MUSIC Chilly exposure: The sound and the fury

CINEMA Mission Impossible: Fallout: Ethan Hunt, knight errant

BOOK REVIEW A good diagnosis enables the cure

BOOK REVIEW End of the American empire?



OPINION The Victorian ALP observed from up close

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Mission Impossible: Fallout: Ethan Hunt, knight errant

by Symeon J. Thompson

News Weekly, August 25, 2018

Keeping up with the tradition of death-defying exhilaration, int­ricate conspiracies with double and triple crosses, and world-ending scenarios, Mission Impossible: Fallout succeeds at being what it is – a sharp thriller with a moral edge and an awareness of consequences; a modern chivalric tale full of sacrifice and derring-do.

Two years after the events of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), special operative for the American Impossible Missions Force (IMF) is back in the game. He’s hunting down the remnants of the Syndicate, the shadowy black-ops group led by bitter former intelligence officer Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a talented man who turned against the system that spawned him. Hunt may have captured Lane but his followers remain, and they have restructured themselves into the Apostles – terrorists for hire.

The Apostles are working with “John Lark”, who wants to bring down civilisation as we know it. Lark’s apocalyptic vision sees the enemies of humanity as those who safeguard order – the Church, the Government and the Law – for they allow the chaos and suffering to continue, all because they will not compromise enough. He believes that a cleansing will allow a new great peace to fall – and that the lives of the innocent are an acceptable price to pay.

The IMF’s intelligence indicates that the Apostles are seeking plutonium cores on behalf of Lark, and Hunt goes with his team – Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) – to secure them. But the Apostles are there and prepared and Hunt, unwilling to sacrifice one of his team, loses the plutonium. However, they do learn that there’s a chance to retrieve the plutonium and capture John Lark. It seems that the Apostles are dealing with the “White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby), a wealthy “philanthropist” whose charitable work is a cover for her arms dealing.

Hunt is good to go, and has the full support of IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), when a new problem is thrown into the mix. CIA director Erika Sloane (Angela Bassett) is unimpressed by the IMF’s failure and she makes sure the upcoming mission is a joint one. She has August Walker (Henry Cavill) join the team. Walker is not just any CIA agent, but its top problem solver, a “hammer” whose ruthless effectiveness means he doesn’t have time for the “Halloween games” of the IMF.

Also added to the mix is Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the British femme fatale secret agent with her own mission. And Ethan Hunt’s dreams are haunted by memories of Julia (Michelle Monaghan), his former wife and the love of his life, whom he had to help disappear for her sake and his.

Fallout is an exhilarating thrill-ride of a movie, one where, once again, 56-year-old Tom Cruise does his own stunts. The cinematography is crisp and clear, as is the editing, and the soundtrack beautifully reinforces the drama. This is not the Matt Damon-helmed Bourne series, where the cinematic style is confusion-inducing shaky cam and an abundance of quick cuts, but something eminently watchable. And, unlike Bourne, the villain here is not the system, but those who want to eradicate it.

The plot, likewise, is sharp and intelligible without being simple. It’s a film that you do have to pay attention to, and it helps to have some of the background of the series to understand it, but its plotting, and its principles, remain clear.

Embodying these principles is the person of Hunt. Hunt sees all life as valuable – whether it’s the one person in front of him, or the one million who are at risk – and this is both his weakness and his strength. The only life he’s willing to sacrifice is his own. He remains a principled idealist – unlike his villains.

The series’ villains are often bitter and disillusioned with the secret world and their moral core is already twisted by compromise before they turn bad. They see the forces of order and the principles those forces stand for as obstacles to lasting peace and civilisational rebirth.

Hunt, however, does not accept such utilitarianism. For him, the ends do not justify the means. Unlike that other “blunt instrument”, James Bond, he does not use people. Hunt gave up the woman he loved to protect her. He has given up any hope of a normal life to do the right thing in the right way, a modern knight errant whose home and purpose is his mission – his Mission Impossible.

Symeon J. Thompson is a member of the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia (FCCA).

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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