WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, in theaters now.
With six films released over the course of 22 years, the blockbuster Mission: Impossible franchise has amassed quite a history along with its nearly $2.8 billion box-office haul, which brings with it dangling story threads and almost-forgotten characters. Not only has Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt saved the world multiple times since the first entry, he’s been married, rescued the Impossible Missions Force after it was shut down (twice!), fought former comrades, and found a new love. While you may need settle in for a movie marathon to remember some of the finer details, you should at least recallthe foes that plagued the IMF agent and his team from the previous installment, 2015's Rogue Nation.
In that fifth film, a rogue agent named Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) recruited disillusioned operatives from different intelligence agencies to form The Syndicate -- basically the anti-IMF. Their goal was to gain access to a secret reserve of money to fund their terrorist activities indefinitely. The movie featured Hunt’s latest team, consisting of Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and also brought back Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames) from early in the franchise, triple agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) was the key to taking down Lane.
Director Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible -- Fallout brings back The Syndicate, only now transformed into the extremist group called The Apostles. Although Lane still calls the shots from his prison cell, the leader on the outside is a new player known as John Lark. Although we're led to believe Lark is one character, the twist is that he's actually the CIA agent that is sent to chaperone Hunt on his latest mission, August Walker (Henry Cavill). We also learn The Apostles are following the anarchist manifesto of nuclear physicist Nils Debruuk.
This time the villains are determined to set off a nuclear explosion in Kashmir that would disrupt and contaminate the major water supplies of the surrounding countries, which account for one-third of the world’s population. So, their end goal is to create a global crisis from which a new world order can arise.
The best part of this plot for diehard fans of Mission: Impossible is that Fallout brings back Hunt’s estranged wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan), whom we haven't seen since 2011's Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol. Lane has manipulated events so that she's in Kashmir of her own freewill when he sets the timer on twin nuclear devices. Without giving away the whole ending, we will just say The Apostles’ leadership has been neutralized, and likely won’t likely pop up in the inevitable seventh film.
In theaters nationwide, director Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible — Fallout stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, joined by returning actors Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, with Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt.