Director: Brad Bird and Christopher McQuarrie
Two old franchises in a surprisingly healthy state. I’ve watched both this weekend.
There’s some weird parallels between the set-pieces in these two films… A motorcycle chase, helicopter crashes, people passing out at high altitude… were they both swapping notes, or are action tropes just becoming less unique in general now?
One other parallel is that both films mine some interestingly murky moral depth before abandoning such pretensions for more conventional action climaxes. The Incredibles 2 questions the fairness of an unequal world where superheroes are put on pedestals. Fallout casts doubt on whether the current world order is actually one worth saving. A shame these strong themes are glossed over in the end, but then again this is mainstream entertainment, not Watchmen. Even when a villain has something interesting to say, they still gotta get punched in the mouth.
Such criticisms are largely irrelevant, however, when the quality bar is set this high on the action front. Fallout probably contains the highest concentration of heart-pumping stunts since that last Mad Max film. Wince-inducing, boisterous brawling with a good dose of free-running, climbing, driving, kung fu, ticking timebombs…. everything is thrown into the mix. A relentlessly physical experience (and you can FEEL 55-year old Tom Cruise pushing himself to keep up), it matters little that the (rather complicated) plot hardly makes a lick of sense. You won’t notice and you don’t have time to think about it until after the credits roll.
Top marks go to the motorcycle chase through Paris, which instantly roars into my top ten cinema vehicle chases of all time. Flying down cobbled streets scattering pedestrians everywhere? Driving against the traffic flow on that big crazy roundabout at the Arc De Triomphe? Yes please. Magnificent stuff. This is what big screens were made for.
The Incredibles 2 isn’t QUITE so successful. Full marks for matching the pace and freshness of the original after such a long gap (the transition is admirably seamless), but I think there was a conscious effort to make this more family-friendly and I think it suffers because of it. This might be an unpopular opinion, but Pixar worked best in their golden age when they made children’s movies that were secretly for adults (Wall-E, Ratatouille, Up…). I LIKED the lofty pretensions and dark undercurrents. At its lowest point, Incredibles 2 has a baby fighting with a raccoon: a scene that will have the Ice Age demographic rolling in the aisles, but which seriously lowers the bar for what was previously a near-perfect cinematic world.
Still, it’s decent. It moves along briskly, has a few good twists, a welcome feminist agenda and a lovely action climax. Pixar and Brad Bird are still a cut above the rest.
Undoubtedly the two best summer blockbusters so far. You won’t grudge spending the £15 ticket price on either of these.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
If you’ve followed any of the previous films in either series, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. In fact, in the case of Mission:Impossible this is probably the best one yet. The bar on action cinema was raised high with Casino Royale and the early Bourne films over a decade ago – and this comfortably exceeds that bar.