It’s impossible to discuss the final instalment of Marvel’s 12-year project without spoilers but then this is a movie that no one requires a review to decide whether or not they will see. Its overarching time travel plot holds together surprisingly well, offering an opportunity to revisit characters lost in the previous films despite a fairly tight focus on the original six Avengers (with a few additions). For all the build-up, the overpowered Captain Marvel is largely absent elsewhere in the universe, serving predominantly as a deus ex machina when needed. After Infinity War, I knew that my overall view would depend largely on Doctor Strange’s seemingly inexplicable refusal to use the Time Stone, instead willingly handing it over to Thanos. Although Endgame offers half an answer, it is never adequately explained. Despite my issues with the journey, Endgame provides a satisfying conclusion that ties up the character arcs for a host of original characters, including a weighty, well-earned death near the end. It’s also particularly nice to see Jon Favreau given a few scenes, having helmed the film that started it all.
“The President has invoked Ghost Protocol. We’re shut down. No satellite, safe house, support, or extraction.”
Although I was always aware of them, the Mission: Impossible films largely passed me by. Ghost Protocol marked a shift towards the globe-trotting Bond model, although even when wearing black tie Tom Cruise steers Hunt away from slickly suave. Helming the production, Brad Bird brings breathtakingly audacious action sequences that feel at times like a live-action take on his work in The Incredibles, further enhanced by Cruise’s commitment to performing his own stunts (despite approaching 50), allowing for astonishing close-up action that few big budget films can rival. It seems petty to fault the serviceable but straightforward plot when really it exists only to justify those big set pieces. The film’s chief flaw is its front-loaded structure: after blowing up the Kremlin and scaling the Burj Khalifa, there is no room for escalation, leaving the final act in Mumbai underwhelming. Nevertheless, by that point there is enough residual energy to carry the audience comfortably through to the credits.