How Mission: Impossible - Fallout Sets Up the Inevitable Sequel

WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, in theaters now.

Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt always finds a way to defy the odds. After five films in the Mission: Impossible franchise, we might think time would have run out for the Impossible Missions Force agent. Somehow, however, assignment after assignment, he manages to save the world, living to fight another day.

The sixth movie in the series, Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, is no different. It continues the narrative started in 2015's Rogue Nation, with  fallen MI6 agent known Solomon Lane, and places Hunt up against a wall again, impersonating terrorist John Lark. Luckily, Hunt scrapes by, redeeming the IMF's reputation, and dealing with the betrayal by his CIA partner August Walker (Henry Cavill).

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But it's not a one-and-done deal, because director Christopher McQuarrie cleverly sets the stage for Hunt to continue his IMF missions  against an enemy that just won't go away.

In Fallout, Lane's army of rogue agents, the Syndicate, has evolved into the Apostles, with Walker as their general. He's used his CIA cover to arm two nuclear bombs, rescue Lane from captivity, frame Hunt as a traitor, and in the process destroy the reputations of the IMF and CIA. In the end, however, Walker is killed by Hunt as his team, including Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames), defuse both bombs.

With the aid of Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who was tasked by MI6 with killing its former asset, they take down Lane, opting not to kill him as he's the key to weeding out all of the hidden Apostles. Sadly, it's not really a happy ending, because while it feels as if the heroes won the day, there are several loose threads that still need to be tied up.

Hunt & Co. had to free Lane to try to get the plutonium for the bombs, but they did so by working with the CIA, which in turn was brokering seedy deals with the suspicious White Widow (the daughter of the villain, Max, from the first movie; played by Vanessa Kirby). Hunt fell into their cross hairs and tricked them into thinking he was Lark, so both parties do have revenge on their agendas.

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Another future plot that's set up is Lane's fate. The CIA eventually trades him to MI6, overseen by agency chief Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), but the deal takes place at night, with the Widow's crew stuffing Lane in a trunk for transport back to MI6. With the rest of the Apostles on the loose, that easily sets up Widow's crew to be attacked by the Apostles looking to free Lane before MI6 can secret him away. Given how deep Lane's network runs, we can't rule out the possibility that he has a mole in the Widow's team. Widow was quite shady, too, so there's a chance she could forego her deal as a CIA broker and informer, and look to a bigger payday from Lane's Apostles.

McQuarrie also leaves room for Hunt to team up with his new love interest, Ilsa, who's now back in MI6's after being redeemed for capturing Lane. The director has made it clear these Apostles have infiltrated several key organizations, so Hunt would need a lot of help in sniffing them out.

Either way, the Apostles roaming the world means the looming threat of more terrorism; Lane in transit hints he'll be broken out yet again; and Widow's own faction operating with some sort of immunity are all reasons why Hunt will need at least one more mission to clear out all the villains on the chessboard.

With Sloane's agent, Walker, having turned out to be an Apostle too, Hunt will most certainly have to reassess the IMF and CIA working together. McQuarrie already hinted the world's top agent may have to go after some of his current colleagues as well. It may seem like a long laundry list at present, but hey, it's Ethan Hunt, so we know it's not an impossible task to accomplish.

Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt, joined by returning co-stars Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, along with franchise newcomers Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett and Vanessa Kirby. Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt, director Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible — Fallout is in theaters nationwide.

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