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Sunday January 29th 2023

Mission: Impossible – Fallout | 2018

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Ethan Hunt's ominous dream: Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand | Photograph: Shutterstock / Steve Todd

The franchise shows not the slightest sign of running out of steam, with another mix of breathtaking stunts, twists and reveals.

The strange opening sequence sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) marrying his ex-wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) in a beautiful natural setting of mountains and fjords.

This is Milford Sound, part of Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand. You’ve probably seen its dramatic peaks before in Alien: Covenant and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Of course, this is a dream from which Hunt soon wakes up to receive his next mission.

There’s plenty of plot exposition as Hunt is informed that with the arrest of Solomon Lane (in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), the remaining network, now dubbed The Apostles, is being led by a mysterious figure called ‘John Lark’ and poses an even bigger threat – possibly attempting to assemble nuclear weapons.

It’s off to ‘Berlin’ where along with Benji (Simon Pegg) and monitored by Luther (Ving Rhames) Hunt’s looking to buy three missing plutonium cores, which have turned up on the black market, before they can fall into the hands of The Apostles.

Don’t be fooled by the digital addition of Berlin’s Fernsehturm (the TV Tower glimpsed in the distance). The brick vaults are the old Bishopsgate Rail Yard in Shoreditch, East London.

Built in 1840 as Bishopsgate Station, it was turned into a goods yard in 1875, eventually closing in 1964. It currently consists of two large tunnels, running along either side of Braithwaite Street, E1, with arches running along the south.

Although the eastern arches are Grade II listed, the space is currently, and controversially, set to be renovated as a mixed-use complex called The Goodsyard. Part of Hobbs & Shaw (2019) was also filmed here.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Bishopsgate Rail Yard
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Aerial view of the old Bishopsgate Rail Yard, alongside the tracks, from Google | Image: Google Maps

When the sale doesn’t go to plan and the plutonium disappears, a hacked phone reveals that it's now held by someone called the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) – the daughter of Max from the first Mission: Impossible film – in Paris.

At ‘Ramstein Airbase’ in ‘Germany’, CIA boss Erika Sloane (Angela Bassett) orders that, following the botched sale, CIA agent Walker (Henry Cavill) should accompany Hunt on the mission to retrieve the plutonium.

The ‘airbase’ is RAF Brize Norton, about 75 miles north-west of London in Oxfordshire. It opened in 1937, as the largest Royal Air Force station in the UK, more recently becoming the ‘Norway airbase’ in Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, No Time To Die.

There's nothing as simple as taking a flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Hunt and Walker need to make a terrifying HALO (high altitude, low opening) parachute jump right into the centre of Paris. Naturally.

Never one to fake a stunt if he can do it himself, Cruise became the first actor to perform a HALO jump, falling 25,000 feet and, with speeds hitting 200 mph, requiring an oxygen mask.

The jump was, oddly, filmed not in Paris, but Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

There is a reason. The plane needed to be a Boeing C-17 Globemaster, as used by the USAF, and the only ones available to use were in the UAE. The Arabian desert was replaced digitally by that grim electrical storm.

The entire HALO jump took 12 days to film, with the C-17 aircraft used for the first two sections of the sequence and something called a Twin Otter for the third. Don’t ask me why.

But once down to earth, Paris is real, as Hunt and Walker parachute onto the glass roof of the Grand Palais, 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, where the White Widow is hosting a gala. The official title is now Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, or Rmn-GP, following a merger with Paris National Museums in 2011. It's open to visitors, hosting regular exhibitions and events.

Infiltrating the packed disco event, Hunt is to pose as Lark and get hold of the plutonium. Among other complications is the unexpected appearance of MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), but nevertheless, the ruse works and Hunt and Walker are taken to the Widow’s palatial HQ.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Hotel de Soubise, rue des France-Bourgeois, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Hunt is taken to the White Widow's estate: Hotel de Soubise, rue des France-Bourgeois, Paris | Photograph: Shutterstock / UlyssePixel

Her house is Hôtel de Soubise, 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, in the 3rd arrondissement. It’s a Rococo mansion, built for the Prince and Princess de Soubise in the early-mid 18th century. Nowadays it hosts the Musée des Archives Nationales and is open to visitors if you want to view the exquisite rooms yourself (admission charge).

As the Widow is merely a broker, the complicated details of the deal are laid out. One plutonium core is handed over in good faith but to receive the other two, Hunt will need to extract Lane (Sean Harris), who’s been brought to Paris for interrogation, and hand him over to a courier in London.

There a further complications as Walker secretly meets up with CIA Director Sloane, who has her own agenda, and he fingers Hunt as being the mysterious ‘Lark’.

They meet on the Place du Trocadéro, the grand open space offering that picture-perfect view of the Eiffel Tower across the River Seine.

The ‘copter carrying high-security prisoner Lane lands on the, now rarely used, helipad of the Colbert Building of the Embarcadère du Ministère des Finances (Ministry of Economy and Finance), 800 Port de la Rapée, from where he’s transferred to an armed police convoy, which is Hunt’s target.

The convoy crosses the Seine via the adjoining double-decker Pont de Bercy (it carries Métro Line 6 on its upper level), turning right onto the Quai d’Austerlitz where its progress is blocked by a truck suddenly – and suspiciously – lurching out of Rue de Bellievre and overturning.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Quai d'Austerlitz, lower level, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: the attack on the convoy to 'extract' Lane: Quai d'Austerlitz, lower level, Paris | Image: Google Maps

The convoy is forced to make an emergency swerve to the right, just as the team had predicted, diverting down to the covered lower level running alongside the river.

Needing to avoid putting the police in danger, Hunt improvises a new plan on the fly, ramming the truck carrying Lane into the River Seine.

He immediately backs the truck out, crashing through the door of Magasins d’Austerlitz, 26-26 Quai d’Austerlitz and heads northwest – dumping unwanted personnel out of the back as he speeds away.

The apparent loss of Lane turns the focus onto Hunt and the spectacular 'Big Chase Sequence' follows. Lane, of course, is secretly being rescued by Benji and Luther, and spirited away.

Oh for the days before Google Streetview, when a quick rundown of landmarks would have been enough. Now we get the chance to be more nitpicky.

So far, so good, but from here the Parisian geography goes totally nuts. Who cares? It plays out brilliantly on screen.

Hunt has made it along the riverside as far as Quai des Grand Augustins, approaching Pont Neuf, when he’s suddenly on Pont Neuf heading back toward Grand Augustins, which he races across into that archway, the entrance to the narrow Rue de Nevers.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Rue de Nevers at Grand Augustins, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Hunt turns the truck into the narrow street: Rue de Nevers at Grand Augustins, Paris | Image: Google Maps

After passing The Highlander (Paris’ premier Scots bar, if you were wondering), the already narrow road closes in even more trapping the truck and leaving the cops stuck as Hunt and Walker jump out onto waiting bikes.

Walker zooms off, but Hunt’s bike won’t start.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Widow's gang from Lane’s abortive ‘extraction’ arrive on the Quai d’Austerlitz beneath the entrance to the Viaduc d’Austerlitz rail crossing, where they split up and transfer into cars.

The geography now becomes crazier, with Hunt now driving from Île de la Cité, one of the islands in the Seine, across Pont Saint-Louis onto Île Saint-Louis.

Before you can process that, he’s riding north from the Tuileries along Rue Des Pyramides where, to avoid a police blockade, he drives down into the Louvre-Pyramides underground car park, popping out onto Avenue de l’Opera heading toward the Paris Opera.

A truck fortuitously blocks the way of the cops, and immediately Hunt is on Avenue Marceau at – where else? – the huge bustling roundabout of the Arc de Triomphe, hurtling against the flow of traffic clockwise around the landmark.

Having survived that challenge, he’s now way south of the River Seine, on the Left Bank, darting out of Rue Albert de Lapparent onto Avenue de Saxe. This is where he’s able to disappear into that convenient circular entrance to a subterranean waterway below.

No, there is no entrance there, nor even a greenery-filled traffic island in the middle of the road. That was all built for the film.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Canal Saint Martin, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Hunt is rescued by the team in a subterranean boat: Canal Saint Martin, Paris | Photograph / Alamy Stock Photo / Photo 12

This waterway, where Luther and Benji are naturally waiting in a boat, is the covered section of Canal Saint-Martin, the biggest underground river in Paris, designed in the 19th century to bring drinking water to into the city.

It connects the Bassin de la Villette to the Seine and there are boat tours through the section of the canal (over half of it) which runs underground.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Place de l'Alboni, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: the team comes up from the canal to be faced by a policewoman: Place de l'Alboni, Paris

From here, the team manages to pop up on Rue de l'Alboni at the foot of the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, another double-decker bridge. It’s a screen favourite and this particular spot is familiar from the likes of Inception and Last Tango In Paris.

This is where they face an uncomfortable dilemma when confronted by a policewoman. Speeding away, they realise they’re being following by a mysterious black-clad biker.

Whizzing unnoticed through central Paris with a front seat passenger wearing a bag over his head, they race south on Rue du Général Foy, where a full police convoy passes the opposite direction noticing nothing amiss.

Turning into Rue de Madrid, they find that the mysterious biker has already managed to take up a position on Rue de Rocher, at the point where it crosses over Rue de Madrid, and from where clear shots can be taken at Lane.

Hunt makes a swift right onto Rue Portalis but the sniper is able to take a convenient set of steps down onto Portalis behind them. Honestly, I wasn’t convinced that those steps were real but there they are.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: Rue Portalis, Paris
Mission: Impossible – Fallout film location: the sniper rides down the steps from the overpass: Rue Portalis, Paris | Image: Google Maps

In the blink of an eye, they’ve crossed the Seine back to the Left Bank, with Hunt roaring out of Impasse Grisel onto Boulevard Garibaldi, barging through traffic beneath the elevated Métro Line 6 and creating a bit of a French Connection vibe.

Avoiding another car, Hunt swerves left into Rue Bellart and then…

They’re back across the river, streaking past the front of Eglise Saint Gervais on Place Saint Gervais in the Marais, into Rue de Brosse, onto Rue de l’Hotel de Ville and quickly left into Rue des Barres.

And it’s here, at the end of Rue des Barres, that Hunt performs that reverse J-turn down a small flight of steps onto Rue Francois Miron.

Unable to shake that pesky sniper, Hunt ends up on the narrow Rue de Beaujolais, which is looking like a dead end until he's able to make a quick turn into Rue de Valois.

The resourceful biker gets an advantage by immediately turning into the Colonnade of the Palais Royal which just happens to run alongside Rue de Valois, and gets ahead of him, popping out of the colonnade entrance at 5 Rue de Valois. The sniper stops Hunt in his tracks at Rue du Colonel-Driant.

Big reveal, if you hadn’t guessed – the well-trained sniper is Ilsa. She takes a couple of shots at Lane, but Hunt goes for it and knocks her off the bike.

Finally arriving at another grungy underground meeting place, Hunt and his team whip out the tracker from Lane’s neck and sent it off on a drone, to create a diversion.

This meeting place is, once again, Bishopsgate Rail Yard in East London – yes, another part of the same ‘Berlin’ location where the plutonium cores were lost at the beginning of the movie.

Hunt has one more meeting with White Widow, on Quai Saint-Michel on the bank of the Seine just east of Pont Saint Michel, with Notre Dame picturesquely in the background. She ups her price, now demanding that Ilsa, who’s trying to kill Lane, is taken out too.

Ilsa is following Hunt as he walks in the colonnade on Rue de Richelieu alongside La Comédie Francaise theatre (past that plaque honouring playwright Molière) and turns into Rue de Montpensier, and from here into the Jardin du Palais-Royal.

In an avenue of trees, Hunt confronts Ilsa who reveals she’s been ordered by MI6 to take out Lane before he can reveal secrets to anyone – not even the French secret service.

With Lane now safely secured, Hunt and the Widow take him to London to meet the courier for the handover.

continued – with London, New Zealand and Norway.