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July 29, 2018 8:52 AM   Subscribe

‘Mission: Impossible’ Is the Best Movie Franchise—Here’s Why [The Ringer] “In this time of expanding cinematic universes, rapidly adapted intellectual property, and the ever-gaping maw awaiting time-killing content, we rank. We rank, therefore we are. Fortunately, the Mission: Impossible movies are worthy of the form, because each entry indicates a shift or improvement in moviemaking strategy and franchise storytelling. It codified—and then broke—the “One Director’s Vision” concept that has become so prevalent in the Marvel canon. It’s a long-running but not urgent property; when a new one arrives, it’s less a consequential continuation of mythology than it is a fun diversion. The stunts are real and the stakes are massive, but the end game is modest: Just wow us.”

• A Lit Fuse: The History of the Mission: Impossible Franchise [Roger Ebert]
“From a financial standpoint, its significance cannot be denied; the first five films in the series—“Mission: Impossible” (1996), “Mission: Impossible II” (2000), “Mission: Impossible III” (2006), “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” (2011) and “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” (2015)—have pulled in over $2.7 billion dollars and, barring some unforeseen disaster, the new one should put it well over the $3 billion mark. With grosses like that, it would be easy to simply treat the series as a sort of annuity that one could return to every couple of years to make a lot of money simply by repeating the basic formula established by the previous films for as long as audiences are will to pay to see them. And yet, thanks to the combination of things up by adding new and intriguing elements to the mix each time, the unique approaches to the basic material employed by a strong and eclectic string of directors and, of course, the indefatigable efforts of producer/star Tom Cruise to thrill moviegoers by any means necessary, a series that should by all means have become creatively moribund years ago has instead gotten better, craftier and more entertaining with age. If all blockbuster-sized entertainments were even half as ambitious and ingenious as these films have been, moviegoers would be infinitely better off.”
• Mission: Impossible Is the Best Film Franchise of the Last 20 Years [Vice]
“Arguably the most unique quality of the Mission movies is Cruise himself, who famously performs his own increasingly elaborate stunts. In the fourth film, that’s really Cruise climbing and running along the world’s tallest building. In the fifth, that’s really Cruise hanging from the side of an airplane. That Cruise has the willingness to go the extra mile with the stunts (including breaking his ankle and shutting down production for weeks) can simultaneously be breathtakingly impressive and desperately pathetic, as though his inner monologue is saying: “What do you want from me? You want me to hang off a plane? You think I won’t? Thetan power lets me do anything!” Regardless, it’s a selling point that no other action series is willing to match. Cruise is skilled at what he does, including as the series producer. Five of the six entries in the series have a different director, each of whom brought their own unique stylistic approach. Two of the last three directors were making their live-action feature directing debut (J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird), and the other hadn’t directed for over a decade before Cruise recruited him for Jack Reacher (Christopher McQuarrie). The result is that each entry in the series feels uniquely independent from the others, even though they all have basically the same plot with the same main character, further contributing to the overall uniqueness of the franchise.”
• Thrill of the hunt: Tom Cruise and the Mission: Impossible franchise [BFI]
“This system has allowed filmmakers with strong grips to leave their fingerprints on a Mission: Impossible – imagine, by comparison, if Eon Productions had hired Mike Hodges, John McTiernan and Tsui Hark to make James Bond films through the years, and helped to ward off stagnation. Each film is of a piece with the series, but with its own personality. Limp Bizkit feeding Lalo Schifrin’s theme song through nu metal crunch badly dates 2, but it’s baroque and barmy and sexy and silly, with enough Christian kitsch and gun fu to leave no doubt that this is a John Woo picture. Bird, reteaming with the first film’s legendary editor Paul Hirsch, creates some of the most elegant sequences in the series, and has the best gear, too – that rolling mirage screen! – as befits a whiz-kid retro futurist. While the director position has traditionally provided the variable factor in sequels, Cruise himself is the constant, and altogether the franchise operates as a case study in the idea of the actor as auteur. The appeal of the character of Bond has proved to be larger than any single actor, while it is difficult to imagine an Ethan Hunt other than Tom Cruise.”
• How 'Mission: Impossible' Avoids a Genre's Worst Impulses [The Hollywood Reporter]
“ The relationship that we see between Hunt and Walker in Fallout is the distinction between our best action heroes of the '80s and our best of today. There’s something interesting that happens with action franchises across decades, something that films released in close succession to each other, like Bourne and John Wick, don’t allow for. These long-running franchise films, and their lead characters, are given an opportunity to grow into themselves, to live up to their legendary status that pop-culture has allotted them, usually early on in their creative cycle. There are some, like Rambo, who stray from the impetus of the original films. The wounded Vietnam vet meant for a tragic end becomes mounted to a turret, fixed in a position of inciting rather than reacting. The current status of Rambo, born of pop-culture, has moved so far away from his original conception that the man we see in First Blood (1982) and the one we see in Rambo (2008) feel connected only on the peripheral basis of names and theme music.”
• Mission: Impossible—Fallout Doubles Down on the Ridiculousness of Its Hero [The Atlantic]
“As such, this is a slyly political film at moments, with McQuarrie casting a pessimistic eye at the ruthlessness of America’s approach to espionage. Hunt and his fictional “Impossible Mission Force” are throwbacks, mascots for a kinder, increasingly imaginary-feeling United States. [...] At 147 minutes, Fallout is the longest and loopiest of the Mission: Impossibles, building on the plot intricacies of Rogue Nation (which is worth a rewatch if you’ve forgotten the details of Solomon Lane and his Syndicate). Past movies like Ghost Protocol largely dispensed with storytelling sophistication in favor of globe-trotting action. But in Fallout, McQuarrie insists on weaving it all together, calling back to most of the franchise’s previous entries at one point or another, adding to his grand notion that Hunt is more than just a glorified stuntman. Either way, by the time Hunt is dangling off his umpteenth cliff and trying, once again, to save the world before a ticking clock hits zero, it’s hard not to salute his persistence in the name of giddy entertainment value.”
• Mission: Impossible – Fallout Is the Perfect Movie for Our Summer of Unreality [Vulture]
“A couple of other things make Fallout just right for our summer of collective cognitive dissonance. There’s the fact that it stars Tom Cruise, who is both beloved and deemed suspicious in equal measure, praised for his work ethic and clouded by controversy because of his connections to Scientology and the odd dissolutions of his three marriages. No other movie star in modern times is as big as Cruise, while being shrouded in so many mysteries about who he really is off-camera. Then there’s what the Mission: Impossible franchise stands for, which, at this point, is authenticity above all else. We know the effects are practical and that many of the eye-popping stunts are performed by Cruise himself. (The marketing of these films makes sure we never forget it.) That’s what makes these movies so cool: This man is willing to dive out of airplanes, crash helicopters, and even break an ankle while diving onto a rooftop, all for the sake of our entertainment.”
• Mission: Impossible - Fallout [FanFare Thread]
• The Cast of "Mission: Impossible" Recap the First 5 Films in 11 Minutes [YouTube]
posted by Fizz (71 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
The latest episode of Polygon's History of Fun podcast is another celebration of the Mission Impossible franchise.
posted by howfar at 8:56 AM on July 29


I've seen Ghost Protocol, and honestly, I've had worse times at the movies. And it's true that, whatever weird shit that Tom Cruise has going on in his personal life, he works hard at his job; he always has. But the idea that he is somehow unique for performing his own stunts, and even for suffering minor injuries (Heavens to Betsy! A broken ankle!), is laughable to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of what Jackie Chan does.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:02 AM on July 29 [27 favorites]


I: Feels pretty old now, but it's good.
II: Surprisingly bad.
III: Okay, Hoffman is really unpleasant.
IV: Top notch action movie.
V: Just a hair below IV.

Haven't seen VI yet.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:16 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Requisite running link. So weirdly kinetic.
posted by q*ben at 9:18 AM on July 29


Arguably the most unique quality of the Mission movies is Cruise himself, who famously performs his own increasingly elaborate stunts.

Is Cruise America's Jackie Chan? (No. But give him a few more years to mellow.)
posted by SPrintF at 9:24 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


The problem with the Chan comparisons is that Jackie Chan movies, 9 times out of 10, are just... bad. The stunts are neat to watch but the stories are dreadful. They remind me of the super hero movies of yesterday where studio execs and filmmakers couldn't accept that an adult wanted to watch them so they were made for adolescents. Chan's producers have yet to realize that a amazing story with good stunts is far better than a good story with amazing stunts.

I don't think anyone watches the M:I movies and fast-forwards to the stunts, but most people I know who watch Chan movies do just that. And these days, post 90s, anyway, I don't know anyone who looks forward to a new Chan movie. They all just blur together because their non-stunt parts are so interchangable.
posted by dobbs at 9:38 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Is Cruise America's Jackie Chan?

While they're both apologists for abusive authoritarian control, at least people have some choice about joining the Scientologists, something that the citizens of Hong Kong were never offered in relation to the modern Chinese state.
posted by howfar at 9:58 AM on July 29 [19 favorites]


Well. I enjoyed Fallout. They're all solidly entertaining action movies, with great stunts that don't look too CGI.

But I think it's a bit of a stretch to call it the best franchise. It's an old-fashioned franchise with basically the same plot and characters who don't change much. Each one would be fairly intelligible if you'd never seen another. "The Fast and the Furious" I think has done better at evolving the characters and upping the stunts to new levels each time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a greater variety of plots, has done better at keeping continuing plotlines going between movies, and has created an unprecedently rich and complex universe. Star Wars has done something (I think) unique in coming back to the same characters played by the same actors decades later and showing how they've changed: it's fascinating to compare the Luke Skywalkers of "A New Hope" and "The Last Jedi".

With Mission Impossible I don't think they've made a bad movie, but they haven't done anything new with the possibilities of a extended franchise either.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:00 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I like these movies, but... the best franchise of the last 20 years? That's a scalding hot take for sure. IMO these movies definitely aren't better than the LOtR trilogy, my own personal choice for best franchise in the last 20 years. I also think the Fast & Furious movies, the new Star Wars films, and the Grudge series (the Japanese ones - let's ignore the crappy US remakes) are better too. And I have mixed feelings about the Marvel movies, but there's no way I'd rate any M:I movies above Black Panther.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:10 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Ha, jinx
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:11 AM on July 29


the best franchise of the last 20 years? That's a scalding hot take for sure. IMO these movies definitely aren't better than the LOtR trilogy

The claim is best franchise. And as with SW, LotR's prequels stink like a dirty poop.
posted by biffa at 10:16 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I liked the last two quite a bit but I wasn't prepared for the rapturous reviews that I've read of this one. I mean David Erlich says "It doesn’t take long to recognize that “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” is one of the best action movies ever made." and Brian Tallerico gushes "Roughly seven of the ten best action sequences of the year will be from this film " in a four-star review.

We're seeing it this afternoon; I'll report back as to whether it lives up to the hype.
posted by octothorpe at 10:16 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


I've missed about half of the Mission Impossible movies to date, having only seen I, II and Ghost Protocol. II is an abomination that's worse than anything the last media-anointed "best franchise ever," The Fast and the Furious, ever put out. I is a movie I keep going to bat for for actually including something resembling spycraft, but admittedly it's been decades since I last saw it and probably don't have a leg to stand on. That leaves just Ghost Protocol, a movie I enjoyed but only despite the franchise's unwillingness to consider the possibility that Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt actually be able to fail at anything important. Any failures that do happen along the way are perfunctory, merely a minor roadblock to moving to the next part of the plot. And the weird thing is that Mission Impossible is by no means the only franchise for which this is true--see again The Fast and the Furious--but for some reason I find it more difficult to grant MI the benefit of the doubt.

That said, I do kind of want to revisit the entire series. If only they were available on any streaming service I have access to.
posted by chrominance at 10:28 AM on July 29


In 1967, Lucille Ball sold her production company, Desilu Producitons to Paramount for $17 million. Two of the four TV shows they had on the air at the time were Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. That’s got to be one of the luckiest acquisitions ever.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:35 AM on July 29 [19 favorites]


biffa: " The claim is best franchise. And as with SW, LotR's prequels stink like a dirty poop."

I keep trying my best to forget that The Hobbit movies exist. Or at least that they have any claim to be part of the Lord of the Rings franchise.
posted by octothorpe at 10:46 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


That leaves just Ghost Protocol, a movie I enjoyed but only despite the franchise's unwillingness to consider the possibility that Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt actually be able to fail at anything important.


I would say they have rowed back on this to some extent with the latest one. He has moments of self doubt, at least one accident and there seems to be less confidence in general from the character.

I agree MI2 is the stinker. Its the only one of the six that is basically Hunt on his own, rather than with a team. Its shot as essentially a masturbatory ode to Cruise, with various unnecessary shots of him looking ripped and tanned. It also has the weakest villain, with Dougray Scott not even remotely menacing. There are too many of John Woo's bullshit hallmarks, the pigeon-wrangling hack.

I do find it to be very solid as a series though. I like that they revisit the mask tech from the TV show/first film. They mostly have some very well thought out set pieces. The stunt from 4 with them climbing outside the building is very impressive particularly. I like the team aspect of it.
posted by biffa at 10:48 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


The world will be a poorer place when Cruise can't run any more, that said it'll force him back to more dramatic roles. Or Len Grossman.
posted by Damienmce at 11:08 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


The problem with the Chan comparisons is that Jackie Chan movies, 9 times out of 10, are just... bad. The stunts are neat to watch but the stories are dreadful.

Well, Jackie Chan movies are not those kinds of movies. The stories and characters in Jackie Chan movies are secondary to getting really good action sets and physical comedy bits. The whole reason Jackie Chan managed to break out in in the 80s is because he decided purposefully not to copy Bruce Lee and that style of action hero, which was definitely more serious and dramatic.

Yeah, as we departed the 80s and 90s the times changed and Chan has tried more serious and story driven movies like the two Police Story reboots, and most recently 'The Foreigner' with Pierce Brosnan also looked serious and with more story and character development. But, I don't think any of those attempts did particularly well.
posted by FJT at 11:10 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Fallout was pretty freaking good. There were moments of total disbelief but they way the story was handled and the sequences shot I didn’t care how totally ridiculous it all was. You know what you’re getting, and it’s a hell of a good ride.
posted by nikaspark at 11:19 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


A lot of these movies are by guys in middle age or concerned about entering this culturally defined phase of life and pleased to see a representation of masculinity still 'crushing it" on-screen despite his advanced age. It's like watching the updating and hagiographic re-release of this year's model of a sporty car. All aging, successful male action stars have received this kind of coverage since the 1950s or so.
posted by meehawl at 11:27 AM on July 29 [20 favorites]


i'm not a movie snob by any stretch, but this is such a low bar. the full list of franchises is like an abysmal pit of movie hell. every franchise has at least one (and often more than one) unwatchable groaner. what is it about franchises that the worse the movies get, the more likely studios are to make even more of them?

that said, my choice for best franchise is sharknado.
posted by wibari at 11:28 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


They should have made Bottle Rocket into a franchise - more wacky schemes from Dignan, try to get the piano back from Mr. Henry, etc.
posted by thelonius at 11:46 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


meehawl: this year's model of a sporty car

So is that a vote for the Fast and the Furious?
posted by biffa at 11:46 AM on July 29


This Tom Cruise/James Corden YouTube is apparently related to Mission Impossible.
posted by MtDewd at 11:52 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Huh. MI1 has a small but special place in my heart. I'd always assumed that was because it was released at a good time in my life, right around the dawn of my young adulthood, and one of the first films that seemed to me to carry some reasonable if brief glimpses of the also dawning web tech & culture I was immersed in. I didn't assume it was because it had any particular critical merit. That final explosion which carried Hunt to safety by its force... the snapped suspension of disbelief got a laugh out of me rather than awe, and maybe that's good enough.

Then I saw MI2 and simply didn't even consider watching all the films since. I thought it was terrible. I didn't even finish it if you count the time I literally fell asleep. And I went into it excited to revisit feelings from the first.

I'd heard a few times that subsequent films were better, but it feels like there's an insistent moment going on here. Best Movie Franchise is... well, it's either high praise or damning with faint praise. I can't tell which. But I do enjoy the MCU and I love a good spy/action film now and again. Really worth visiting the rest of the MI series?
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:45 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


can simultaneously be breathtakingly impressive and desperately pathetic

I'm going with the latter. Tom Cruise has been unwatchable as anything since Frank T.J. Mackey because he needs so badly to be loved. "Desperately" is absolutely le mot juste, and I'm not even talking the enturbulated body thetans inside him, but the pathetic control-freak manchild that contains them.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:05 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


My wife and I have seen all but the first of the M:I movies together, though we forget about them pretty quickly afterward. They're pleasant enough actiony diversions that must always get released when there's a lull in the movie season? Or am I imagining that? We just kinda shrug, say why not, and go see them. They're fine, but let's not go nuts and say they're more than that.

We saw Fallout today and it was also fine! It's fairly amazing how Ethan Hunt remains a complete cipher despite being in so many movies already. His personality traits seem to be running and falling. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg fill up a lot of space with their charisma.

I won't spoil anything, but I thought the characters were going to have to face some huge ramifications for their actions in the film, but nope. Seems like a missed opportunity.

PS One thing that always cracks me up, as a former graphic/web/UI designer is when Hunt watches his mission briefing and it's just the most spectacular slide presentation imaginable. I always wonder who the designer is that creates these wonderful things, and how they managed to get super top level government clearance to make them. And then only one person sees the fruits of their labour once and it's destroyed forever!
posted by picea at 2:04 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Really worth visiting the rest of the MI series?

Very much so, yes.

II is easily the worst of them: it's on par with a mediocre Bond film. A couple of good action sequences, but nothing worth remembering. (Bond films are mostly pretty bad, incidentally, and get by on cultural cachet and toxic masculinity always having an audience. Ethan Hunt is at least obviously likeable as a person: principled, devoted to his friends and willing to do anything to keep innocent people from getting hurt. Bond is just a thug in a good suit.)

III is very good, with decent action sequences and probably one of the best action movie villains of the 2000s in Philip Seymour Hoffman. Ghost Protocol (IV) is exceptional, with action setpieces that are literally jaw-dropping wrapped around a silly bit of fluff as a plot. Rogue Nation (V) is even better than the fourth one is, with a better plot and better characters and action sequences as good or better than IV.

Fallout doesn't quite manage the "better than the last one" trick the last three before it did, mostly because Henry Cavill isn't quite able to do what he needs to do for his character and because the final action sequence is a helicopter chase, and helicopter chases never quite work as well as car chases do. But luckily there's an exceptional car chase earlier on, and the story is good too.
posted by mightygodking at 2:04 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


The only thing I can still enjoy with Tom Cruise is Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut. They're the only movies for me that show him close enough to who he is to not make me feel completely grossed out. Paying to watch a new Tom Cruise movie, with what we know about him? in this economy? Couldn't be me.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:18 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure what's so wrong with wanting to see a middle-aged guy "crush it." Our society is so youth-oriented that one would be unsurprised to learn that life ends at 30. But it really doesn't. We live longer and better than ever before in history...well, if we can afford to see a doctor, that is. Few of us could successfully outrun a jet plane, of course, but these are fantasies. I'm not seeing any harm in a fantasy that reinforces the idea that people remain vital (or even get better) as they mature. It'd be nice to see those fantasies extended to older women, obviously.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:44 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Working on my review now... I'd say it's fourth of six, behind Rogue Nation and Ghost Protocol.

It's largely a remix and reprise of action sequences from other movies: the bathroom fight from Grosse Point Blank, the Paris bike chase from Bourne Identity, the cliff sequence from MI 2.

I'm not surprised at this franchise's success, because it is smooth and 'fingerprintless'- a film designed to the greatest common denominator, as generic as Pepsi....
posted by LeRoienJaune at 3:47 PM on July 29


Unless Scientology will lend Tom Cruise an extended lifespan, fueled by tears collected from heart-broken dolphins under the full moon, he shot past "middle-age" a good 10-15 years ago.

I can barely even look at pictures of Tom Cruise, let alone watch him in films. That grinning rictus, those empty nebulas in place of his eyes. If he was revealed to be 14 angry space lizards wearing a human suit, I'm not sure I would be surprised.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:06 PM on July 29 [15 favorites]


I have never managed to stay awake during a Mission:Impossible movie. Never once. I've tried watching the first one three times, and every single time I just conk right out. And I'm a big fan of big fun action movies! But something about them just... makes me... snzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
posted by sarcasticah at 4:46 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


I know it's dumb and pointless to argue with an internet ranking list, but they severely underrated Ghost Protocol. The credits sequence alone is worth the price of admission; I really think it has one of the best beginnings of all time. The Kremlin scenes are hilarious and exciting, the second act in Dubai is utterly thrilling. The third act drags a tiny bit, but only in comparison with the rest of the film. Really, it's such a solid action movie overall that I could watch it every year for the rest of my life without getting bored.

I'm very annoyed that I wasn't able to see Fallout this weekend. :(
posted by grandiloquiet at 5:08 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today!: "The only thing I can still enjoy with Tom Cruise is Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut."

So, not a big Losin' It fan?
posted by Chrysostom at 5:16 PM on July 29


Just got out of the theater, terrific and ridiculous fun.
posted by octothorpe at 6:00 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a greater variety of plots

Ever since someone pointed out to me how many Marvel films lean on arrogant male protagonists getting humbled (and then getting superpowers and going right back to arrogant) it's been harder to argue that their plots are varied.
posted by Merus at 6:04 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Hey Mods, would it be alright if I were to put up a link to my official review of this film?
posted by LeRoienJaune at 6:28 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a greater variety of plots

Probably but in general, the action scenes in MCU films are lost a blury CGI mush. Even the Marvel films that I like a lot don't have action sequences that come even close to the ones in the last few MI movies.
posted by octothorpe at 6:58 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


...is laughable to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of what Jackie Chan does.

Jackie Chan has had to finally do less of his own stunts these days; I read somewhere that his doctor has said that if he falls on his head one more time it will kill him, with no saving throw.

(Naturally, I couldn't find the source for that when looking for it.)
posted by Quackles at 7:08 PM on July 29


There's a lot to be said for real stuntwork.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:30 PM on July 29


And practical effects.
posted by Mavri at 8:15 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Just saw the movie. It was a fine way to spend a couple air conditioned hours in a heatwave.

It’s great to see an action movie with human characters instead of yet another interminable, immortal, invulnerable, lycra clad superhero masturbation fest.
posted by monotreme at 8:33 PM on July 29


My girlfriend and I decided to see this last night because we sprung for the a-list thing and hey, why not. I know I've seen at least one of the previous ones but it didn't seem terribly important to have seen them all since, well, mission impossible. they get a mission and then do it.

there were some decent bits, but we got bored with about 45 minutes remaining and decided to go home. neither of us has ever done that before, but only having gone because the ticket was free was a new thing too. we both love the MCU so it's not like we're against silly action movies. i think there being some excuse for people doing super-human things helps; I felt like the main character should have been dead several times over half way through the movie... But I have exactly zero interest in proving the movies I enjoy more are "better"; I don't think that's even a thing. I'm glad people are enjoying MI even if I didn't!
posted by flaterik at 8:46 PM on July 29


I saw MI 1 and I thought it was basically a way to upcycle and cash in on the theme music. The stunts did not seem like stunts but rather fever dreams with relation to real physics, I did not like them. So I ask, in all sincerity, if I thought MI1 was dreck are any of the others any better? I don't mind Tom Cruise, I think he is a sort of freak of nature, I am just happy that he doesn't believe in a 4th reich or something.
posted by Pembquist at 9:10 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Check out the 4th one, at least.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:32 PM on July 29


I would agree that it is the most consistently entertaining film series. (The best film trilogy of all time is the Toy Story trilogy, in which the sequel is as good as the first, if not better, and the finale is as good as the other two, if not better. Toy Story is the only trilogy that can claim this.)

But the MI films have a severe weak link: Mission Impossible 2 is not only the worst of the bunch, it's a bad film all on its own. At times laugh out loud bad. I remember not liking it when it was released but so many people had drunk the Kool Aid on John Woo, thinking he was the Next Big Thing...that faded away pretty quickly. MI3 is really quite good, underrated if anything. Looking forward to this one.
posted by zardoz at 9:36 PM on July 29


I think what makes MI a contender for best franchise is that, after the huge misstep that MI 2 was, the series has got really good (3) and then consistently excellent (4,5,6). There aren’t many series that get better as time goes on. You can’t say that about Star Wars, Star Trek, Bond, Bourne, LotR...on and on. Maybe the Fast and the Furious, but I’ve never seen those.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:41 PM on July 29


*grunts* Mad Max
posted by FJT at 9:48 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


[LeRoienJaune, pertinent, limited self-links are fine in comments! (Tip: best to contact us or flag your comment to us to be sure a moderator sees it, since we don't read every thread!)]
posted by taz (staff) at 10:01 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


My review of Mission Impossible: Fallout can be found here.

I'm of the general opinion that there's only one criteria for the MI films, and that is the quality of the stuntwork and action choreography. On that, MI 6 is good, though not great or ground-breaking.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:35 AM on July 30


*grunts* Mad Max

That is also a good candidate for Best Series. I actually think, unpopularly, that each film is an improvement over the previous. Fury Road is hands down the best one, but I think Thunderdome is maybe even better than Road Warrior (which is good but overrated).
posted by zardoz at 4:07 AM on July 30


grandiloquiet: "I know it's dumb and pointless to argue with an internet ranking list, but they severely underrated Ghost Protocol. The credits sequence alone is worth the price of admission; I really think it has one of the best beginnings of all time. The Kremlin scenes are hilarious and exciting, the second act in Dubai is utterly thrilling. The third act drags a tiny bit, but only in comparison with the rest of the film. Really, it's such a solid action movie overall that I could watch it every year for the rest of my life without getting bored."

SO TRUE. After rewatching it for the nth time a few months ago I was just marveling at how basically the entire first two-thirds is an unbroken string of highly watchable scenes peppered with virtuosic set pieces.

To recount (SPOILERS):

- the gripping in medias res opening sequence (and the later elaboration)
- the artfully choreographed slapstick of the prison escape
- the tense wordless comedy of the Kremlin archive hallway illusion thing
- the quick-change into Springsteen t-shirt dude followed by the Red Square explosion
- the improvised escape from the detective in the hospital
- the shock attack on the IMF boss, followed by the underwater fake-out
- the creepy nuclear war speech interpreter video
- the entire Dubai chapter, from the jaw-dropping skyscraper climb to the fraught double-meeting with the assassins to the whirlwind fight sequence to the sandstorm pursuit to the epic car crash. (Seriously, the Dubai section is among the best acts in any action movie, ever.)

It slows down only slightly after that, and still features a swanky gala, one last crazy technology gag with the magnetic drone suit thing, and the best Tom-Cruise-fistfighting-around-dangerous-autonomous-cars sequence since Minority Report. Not to mention Giacchino's score, the vivid cinematography, the excellent supporting cast, Brad Bird's fluid, intuitive directing (like a live-action Incredibles). It's up there with Inception and The Matrix as one of my all-time favorite action movies, and extremely rewatchable.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:25 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


zardoz: "*grunts* Mad Max

That is also a good candidate for Best Series. I actually think, unpopularly, that each film is an improvement over the previous. Fury Road is hands down the best one, but I think Thunderdome is maybe even better than Road Warrior (which is good but overrated).
"

The first one has some effective moments but isn't really very good. Fortunately, most Americans started with The Road Warrior not even knowing that it was a sequel.
posted by octothorpe at 4:31 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of scientology's operating budget comes from the success of these movies.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:23 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I got to see the premiere at the Air and Space Museum IMAX.

The movie really is an excellent action movie. I had low expectations, but that's because I have not seen Rogue Nation or Ghost Protocol (which, judging from what others have said, I need to see.)

I went to see MI:2 mainly because I was nutty about Triumph motorcycles and they're all over that movie. (I was that way with the Italian Job remake with the MINI, but that movie was actually good) But MI:2 sort of soured me on things. I saw half of 3. Now I gotta go back and watch the rest of them. I think we can just pretend that MI:2 didn't happen. Y'know, like the Star Wars prequels.
posted by Thistledown at 6:08 AM on July 30


Watch Mission Impossible 4 again - for all of Tom Cruise's running, he never actually catches anyone. He's outrun by an old man several times in that movie. Watch the sand storm scene for an example. He makes up no ground, and gets bested and the old man is able to make the same moves as him and get in a car while Tom is like 50 feet behind him.

In the final scene, the guy he's chasing is carrying a heavy suitcase, and Cruise doesn't catch him until some stairs.

Always makes me laugh.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:02 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I would have said F&F is a match for M:I as a franchise but F8 really really left a bad taste in my mouth. Fridging Elena and everything with the Shaws... bleh. They murdered Han, FFS! They do not get to be Family!

Fallout was just a pure blast. I need to go watch it on D-Box.
posted by kmz at 8:07 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Best Franchise? If it had anyone other than Tom Cruise in it I'd be inclined to agree. I'm firmly on the side of those commenters who find Cruise a real turn off. Those hollow eyes, maniacally forced laugh and his desperate to please and ingratiating acting style - I find him hard to impossible to watch. And I agree with I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! I think Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut are as close as we're going to get to what might be the real Tom Cruise. He's aware of this to a degree as he's apparently had romantic elements toned down or removed from some of the recent films he's been in as test audiences rarely respond to him as a romantic lead anymore.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:04 AM on July 30


I wonder how much of scientology's operating budget comes from the success of these movies.

Probably a pretty significant chunk. The CoS's sources of income have been in a fairly parlous state for a number of years, as far as people can make out, with recruitment even at places like the LA Org apparently being pretty close to nonexistent. Miscavige has never really found the balance between madman and showman that allowed Hubbard to get a decent return from Scientology, and the brutality and paranoia of his regime has pushed out a lot of the more capable people in the organisation. It seems quite likely that a few very major donors are all that is propping up the whole thing.
posted by howfar at 12:36 PM on July 30


One fun thing about the first Mission Impossible movie is how much of the mid-1990s internet figures into it. There's a whole sequence where Tom Cruise searches Usenet newsgroups.
posted by mhum at 1:11 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I review I read summed it best, Cruise is "an utter lunatic who has learned how to redirect every bit of dark energy surrounding his personal life into a maniacal obsession with filmed fearlessness of every possible kind"
posted by Damienmce at 1:36 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I feel like I'm the only person on the planet (outside of the original cast) who was instantly put off by the fact that the first mission impossible movie decided to up-end seven seasons of a franchise spanning a couple of decades by making it focus on a solo "agent" as opposed to a varied team, and by making Jim Phelps suddenly a villain for no reason. I literally couldn't get past that.

I'm honestly not sure that if it was simply called "Ethan Hunt" and had zero ties to the franchise that I would care or not... It seemed to be taking a promising franchise, and literally throwing it all away except for the whole "agent" thing. I mean, I have no issue with reboots or re-imagining things, but this really seemed to be theme music, a couple of catch phrases, and the whole "secret operative" concept minus a lot of actual espionage.

Sounds like I should at least give IV or V a shot from what I'm reading here, but that's still gonna take a leap of faith.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:23 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I rarely comment on Metafilter anymore, but I wanted to say that Brad Bird's Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (the fourth film) is not just a great action film, but rather like Alfonso Cuaron's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it's a genuinely great film created by a cinematic auteur--but which has been underrated since it's part of a franchise genre.

Both films have an incredible sense of tactility, kinetic imagination, materiality: something is always happening, someone is always moving in the background, in seemingly every shot. They have such lovely motion that they almost feel like screwball comedies. In the case of Ghost Protocol, I think part of it comes from Bird's background as an animator, someone who is used to imagining the look, action, and mobility of any object (particularly small objects) that appears in the frame--rather like a Jackie Chan movie. Even the payphone that Ethan Hunt uses about a third of the way into the movie has more personality than all of the JJ Abrams's third Mission Impossible. Also, rather like in a Jackie Chan movie, the settings of the action sequences--like a giant automated parking lot or one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world--aren't generic backdrops, but create a dynamic set of options that are constantly being activated and responded to: the Burj Khalifa scenes are really incredible. All the MI movies have great stunts, but here they seem somehow more wonky and less airbrushed, which makes them both more vulnerable-making/suspenseful and charming.

The film also has much more of a sense of humor (one of the coolest pieces of tech isn't a fancy gun in this movie, but a magic mirror that must be pushed very slowly to comedic effect) and much better characterization. In Rogue Nation, Alec Baldwin and Jeremy Renner essentially have no role in the plot and just have repetitive theatrical conversations away from the main plot. In Ghost Protocol, there is much more of a push/pull between Hunt and the other members of his team here than in the other movies. Paula Patton's character is also pretty great. The third and fifth Mission Impossible movies are pretty good, but they're much more like very well-produced spy movies.
posted by johnasdf at 4:49 PM on July 30 [8 favorites]


So here I am, three movies deep into a rewatch with just Rogue Nation and Fallout left to go (and realistically I probably won't get to the latter for a few days at best). I skipped MI2 because I've got better things to do with my time, as much as I normally love John Woo movies.

I am happy to say that the original Mission: Impossible still holds up, except for some wonky tech bits that scream "hi I'm Sandra Bullock in The New" late-90s schlock. So in some sense it'll always be a little bit stuck in its era, but otherwise it's the kind of thing I want from the series: a lot of neat spycraft, well-made plans going pear-shaped, double-crosses and suspicion and figuring out who can be trusted. I'd also forgotten just how many great actors are in the first movie--Jon Voight, Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave all work fantastically, I think. A lot of my favourite scenes don't even involve a lot of action--the infamous CIA infiltration scene, for example.

I'd never seen MI3 before, so I had basically no idea of what to expect. I think ultimately it's a little weak, but there are elements of it that I really appreciate. For one, Ethan Hunt makes some bad decisions and actually has to pay for them on occasion. For two, dear god Philip Seymour Hoffman nails the villain role here. He's easily my favourite bad guy of the whole series so far, and the cold open of him and Hunt "negotiating" for Julia's life is gripping in a way that's different from the rest of the series. But besides those things, MI3 feels a little generic maybe? And that ending feels somewhat unearned, a bit like how I felt about another Cruise vehicle, Minority Report. It's weird because J.J. Abrams has an entire television show dedicated to managing the balance between your public everyperson persona and your secret agent operative life (or at least two or three seasons' worth before they dumped the whole conceit) and somehow the resolution to all that feels even worse than it did in Alias. Or what I remember of Alias, anyways.

And Ghost Protocol. I think something about watching three straight MI movies over the past two days has given me a more sympathetic view of Ethan Hunt, because the opening prison break doesn't give me the same "Ethan Hunt is a cocky piece of shit who just happens to always be right, which makes me hate him more" vibe anymore. But something else weird happened instead; maybe it's because I've seen the movie before, but I found myself a little bit bored and distracted. I think maybe the movie tries to do a little too much globetrotting; it starts to lose me right around the time they make it to Mumbai. I think something in me conks out a little bit, too many twists or running sequences or something (though the fight in the automated parking garage is a delight while conveying a real sense of attrition that feels somewhat rare in action movies). And maybe the final climactic sequence of events is a little too ticking-time-bomb for my tastes.
posted by chrominance at 9:40 PM on July 30


the gripping in medias res opening sequence

Oooh, someone's seen The Sting.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:17 PM on July 30


My favourite sequence in the entire franchise (of which I have seen 1, 2 (woof) and 4) is still the part in 4 where Hunt is breaking out of a hospital, gauges whether or not he should jump from the third-floor ledge he's perched on into a dumpster, and the cop chasing him is all like "Go for it, I'd like to see you try." It's pretty much the only relatable human-scale situation Hunt ever finds himself in, and he decides it's too dangerous.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:52 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Maybe in the next one he can tell us where Shelly Miscavige is being kept.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:58 AM on July 31


The New York Times noted that in the latest Impossible Tom Cruise is five years older than was Wilford Brimley in Cocoon.

Now a Mission Impossible featuring Wilford Brimley doing his own stunts is a concept not without merit.
posted by y2karl at 2:27 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]




You could just watch Hard Target and pretend JCvD is really Hunt in a mask. Woo just peaked too early.
posted by biffa at 4:09 PM on August 1


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