Mission: Impossible - Fallout's Villain Plans & Twists Explained

Tom Cruise and Sean Harris in Mission Impossible Fallout

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Mission: Impossible - Fallout


The Mission: Impossible franchise is known for its twists and turns, particularly when it comes to figuring out who's an ally and who's a villain, and Mission: Impossible - Fallout is no exception. After making a difficult choice that results in three plutonium cores being loose on the black market, Ethan Hunt ( Tom Cruise) must track down a mysterious buyer called John Lark, who is planning to buy the plutonium from the Apostles (the remains of the Syndicate, the terrorist group in Rogue Nation). Eventually we learn that John Lark is actually the alias of CIA Agent August Walker (Henry Cavill), who has joined forces with Rogue Nation villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the leader of the Apostles.

When the movie begins, it seems that John Lark has merely hired the Apostles to get their hands on some plutonium so that he can carry out some mass destruction. However, it turns out that the exchange is just a ruse to free Lane, and that both Walker and Lane are working towards the same goal - albeit with slightly different priorities. You could be forgiven for losing track of who the villains are, how they're connected, and what their plan is. Even Ethan seems confused at times, and at one point Walker curses Lane for making the plan "so f**king complicated."

Related: Henry Cavill Interview - Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Here's our spoiler-filled breakdown of Mission: Impossible - Fallout's villain plans and twists, including a breakdown of the movie's two main villains, and how they're connected to one another.

August Walker Is Mission: Impossible - Fallout's Villain

Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett in Mission Impossible Fallout

August Walker never seems particularly friendly, butting horns with Ethan right from the get-go. He insists on doing a sky-dive in the middle of a storm (didn't he see Deadpool 2?), which results in he and Ethan getting blasted by a bolt of lightning. Ethan gives August his oxygen tank and pulls his parachute for him, saving his life, but in the end it turns out that he might have been better letting him fall.

Walker is actually the alter ego of John Lark. He is an anarchist hell-bent on mass destruction as a means of dismantling the old world order, and he authored the manifesto that rears its head throughout the film: "There cannot be peace without, first, a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace." The suffering that Walker has in mind is detonating two nuclear bombs right on top of a glacier in Kashmir that supplies water to China, India and Pakistan. By irradiating the water supply, the strategic detonation could wipe out one third of the world's population through famine - which, following Walker's logic, would create a great deal of peace.

As Walker puts it, "The deal was simple. I help you find Hunt. You get the plutonium." Walker and Lane want more or less the same thing, but whereas Walker simply wants to get his hands on the plutonium and carry out the plan, Lane has a more devious and complicated scheme in mind - and it all revolves around getting his revenge on Ethan.

Related: Tom Cruise's Most Extreme Mission: Impossible Stunts (And How He Did Them)

Solomon Lane Is Mission: Impossible's Mastermind

Sean Harris drowning in Mission Impossible Fallout

Before Mission: Impossible - Fallout's bombastic opening credits even begin, the Apostles already have their hands on the plutonium cores required for the nuclear bombs, after stealing them from the IMF. In theory, they could simply build the bombs, take them to Kashmir, and detonate them - achieving Walker's goal. However, Lane has two additional goals in mind: he wants to be freed, so that he can be there when the bombs go off; and he wants Ethan Hunt to suffer, by framing him as John Lark and killing his ex-wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), in the nuclear explosion.

Here's where the plan gets "so f**king complicated." First, Walker has to steal smallpox from the CDC and unleash it on a small village in Kashmir. Then, acting as an anonymous "guardian angel," he contacts Julia and her new husband, Patrick (Wes Bentley), who are aid workers, and funds a medical camp in the village where he unleashed the smallpox. This not only gives him a bargaining chip to use against Ethan in case the plan goes awry (which it does), but also means that Julia will be killed in the nuclear explosion - just as Ethan's dream in the film's opening sequence predicted.

Lane's vengeance against Ethan doesn't end there, though; he also wants to set him up to take the fall for John Lark's crimes. In order to make this happen, Walker hands his CIA boss, Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), a phone filled with (fake) evidence connecting Ethan to John Lark, and arranges things so that Ethan will end up posing as Lark for the meeting with the White Widow. All this will create a narrative that Ethan really was John Lark all along, and that he killed the "real" John Lark at the Grand Palais so that he could openly assume the John Lark identity with the full endorsement of the American government. The endgoal is Lane dead in a blaze of glory, and Hunt spending the rest of his miserable days in a cell, knowing that he was personally responsible for the "fallout" that killed Julia.

Page 2: Could August Walker or Solomon Lane Return?

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Key Release Dates
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) release date: Jul 27, 2018
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