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Mission Impossible Franchise


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Do we not have threads for these movies? It’s a veteran franchise at this point!

Anyway, the new one was trash and I don’t get why people love it. The last one was amazing and puts any modern Bond film to shame.

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I loved the first one. That was the peak for me. The others have good moments, but nothing that made me want to rewatch. 
I’ll probably try and give them another go over the summer while I wait for the new one to drop on Sky to watch.

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I’m seeing it this Saturday. It’s probably the only franchise I can think of that, with the exception of the second one, has consistently gotten better with each release. (Shame to hear 7 breaks that though). 

But as good as they are (or have been), I don’t care about any of the characters so never in a rush to see them. 

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Yeah, you all hit it. They are fun and good, but it's not like they have a huge cultural impact to drive you to be invested. They just exist as summer blockbusters. I agree that outside of two, each one gets better. Up until now anyway. Even though he made a mess of Star trek and Star Wars, JJ Abrams put things on track with MI3.

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Errr, yeah, I was kind of shocked to see the rotten tomatoes rating. Not that it matters. The human villain was boring as hell. AI as the main threat is goofy. The interplay of gadgetry and heist planning felt non-existent or really under-thought. The movie felt oddly small stakes and low budget for being a world-ending scenario. However, my standards are so low for summer blockbusters now that I just (at the bare minimum) deeply appreciate that nothing looked like CG/cartoony crap in it. And the ending (the whole setpiece is ****ing fantastic and worth a matinee ticket) was just a train going off a cliff and not a whole city block getting sucked into a blue laser. Yyyep.

Oh, and also because I'm not particularly invested in the overall plot developments, and mostly can't remember, when did Kitridge come back? The last one? I vaguely remember him in one of the last two, but when the meeting scene happened at the beginning of this I was like "didn't he die in the first one, the hell?"

Also also: can we stop with the whispy, silent, lady assassin thing, please? I DID like the woman in this okay, but it's getting tiresome.

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Seen one Mission Impossible youve seen them all. Literally no reason to see another one unless you like watching stunts on repeat. 

But to be fair, no one wants you to enjoy a Tom Cruise movie more than Tom Cruise so you at least know the guy is gonna put 100% in every time.

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It was definitely weakest of the post MI3 ones but I enjoyed it - pretty much for the reasons Brett touched on. It’s just nice seeing these action sequences with a bigger focus on practical effects. The last bit in particular was really well done and the chase scene in Rome was fun, good mix of humour and action. 

Though I was surprised that none of it was shot on IMAX considering the last few and Top Gun all used it for the main set pieces. 

But yeah plot wise it was weak. Didn’t really know what the hell was going on 90% of the time (and not in a cool Nolan storytelling way) but I’d be lying if I said that was any different to any other MI film I’ve watched. I’m usually just there for the set pieces and I think they still delivered. 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

One of my main go to podcasts — what I listen to on walks, while doing laundry, that sort of thing — is a Mission Impossible fan podcast. Or at least it started out as a fan podcast but over time I gather the guys who make it slowly but surely insinuated themselves into the halls of power and now it’s apparently the official podcast. I know at some point they ended up on the Tom Cruise cake list, yeah. I’m well over a hundred episodes into it and it’s still just the early days of the pandemic. I think considering the pace that they put out new episodes outmatches the pace at which I listen to ‘em it’s entirely possible I may never catch up. I’m okay with that. Would happily listen to these guys interviewing Hollywood legends about Tom Cruise’s hair for the rest of my days.

 

I think I’m on the record somewhere years ago as really liking these movies — pretty sure I started calling it the only good franchise sometime around Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) — and I still really like them. Haven’t changed my mind!

 

I didn’t see the most recent one in theatres because a senior citizen may be brave enough to ride a motorcycle off a mountain but I’m not brave enough to breathe in other people’s air. I’m no Scientologist. My respiratory cilia weren’t made virus proof by eons spent in Xenu’s volcanic chambers! So it was a bit of a wait for me to see Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023).

 

What’s my verdict?

 

 

I kind of came out of Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) convinced there was no way they could top it and, well, I was right. I think this new one is just not as good as the other McQuarrie stuff! But I came out of this new one — well, I didn’t come out of it, I watched it in my humble home — convinced that the next one could be greater than any of them so far. I don’t know what one of these movies will feel like if it’s the second half of something; if it gets to get going from jump. I’m excited to find out.

 

My complaints (which may be unfair or inaccurate, oh well!) are the following :

 

- The movie makes a big deal of the key. Who has the key, where is the key, what the key does. It won’t stop talking about the key! It does this with aplomb for ninety-five percent of the movie which is why it’s so awful that the key is putpocketed by Grace on that flight and we don’t see her get it back after she’s been detained. Correct me if I’m wrong but the key just reappears back into the narrative without any explanation. Similarly, the initial stages of Ethan’s chase after Grace is unjustified. (It’s possible I just missed something here. I’ll probably rewatch the movie.)

 

- The movie makes a big deal about who Ethan is. It won’t stop talking about him! It does this really well for ninety five percent of it which is why it’s so awful that the Shea Whigham character is introduced as not knowing Ethan Hunt’s name — we see that this information is even kept classified from the Cary Elwes character and during the scene with Shea Whigham and the rest of his team in the helicopter plane things over the airport his name is never mentioned or shown in any of their computer text things — yet later on in the film Shea Whigham inexplicably refers to him by name. (Again, it’s possible I just missed something here. I’ll probably rewatch the movie.)

 

- The fact that they shot this movie during the worst of the pandemic’s restrictions seems to mean that a lot of it is ... there are lots of pellucidly clear action sequences but there’s also a lot of muddy weird disjointed stuff where even though everyone’s supposed to be standing around in one room together it feels like half of everyone is missing.

 

- I have the same complaint as I did for Star Trek Beyond (2016). It seems like they split up the part of the Main Girl into Two Main Girls because they couldn’t adequately track the necessary betrayals and doublecrosses while still having the Main Girl be the Main Girl and lovable throughout. I don’t know. It just felt like earlier drafts of this were just with Ilsa Faust and then that part got split in twain and then they smoothed things over by keeping Ilsa out of half the movie either by having her be offscreen or dead.

 

But, all in all, it’s still a pretty good movie. It’s just there’s kind of a ramp up where III and Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation and Fallout are all just really great one after the other that anything less than exceptional excellence feels like a letdown. Like, the only thing in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) that came close to bothering me was that Henry Cavill gets his face scanned by Tom Cruise early on in the movie to demonstrate the magic mask technology and I figured the moment that happened we’d see someone else masked up as him later on. They laid a card down on the table! (If they ever wanted to bring back the actor this is an obvious way to do it, BTW. The fact that this new movie establishes that people such as the Vanessa Kirby and Frederik Schmidt characters still think John Lark is alive may even be soft set-up for this happening in Part 2!?!??) Where does the franchise go in the future? I don’t know. I think it’d be neat to do a TV thing where one episode or one season is the 50s and the next is the 60s and one episode or one season is the 70s and so on. I assume they can maybe squeak one more movie out of Cruise after the final half of the two-parter. Maybe he’s the Secretary — that was in the mix as an end state for the character for the fourth one when Paramount wanted to pass the franchise onto someone younger *cough* less expensive and less powerful — and he’s faced with the choice of disavowing all knowledge of the actions of a captured team and won’t do it and has to go and rescue them from their imminent execution. That’s also, of course, a serviceable enough idea for an ending story for the TV anthology.

 

I disagree with the general consensus around II. People think it’s bad or dumb or the worst of the franchise or whatever. I get where they’re coming from, sure, yeah but I think a lot of II. It’s the only movie Tom Cruise has made where he’s unflinchingly honest about who he is — I think the only competition here may be Eyes Wide Shut (1999) where, like, among other things, those guys on the street call Dr. Bill Harford short (“I got dumps that are bigger than you!”) and gay — and it made an absolute ton of money (I think maybe more than other entries in the franchise that are more well regarded? Not going to bother to check.) and on some level that’s the singular criterion of success for these kinds of things. Maybe not for Cruise and his stable of permanent collaborators at this point, no, but it’s up there. It really matters. And I like it for how it prefigures certain longer lasting elements. For example, the parties in Mission: Impossible (1996) are kind of done like the old show but the parties from II on are their own thing, visual stuff is introduced and reinforced through them, sorry if this doesn’t quite make sense. I think the only real knock against it is that it’s obviously not John Woo’s best movie but the argument can be made for all the rest of them that they’re each their respective director’s best (non-animated for Bird!) movie.

 

Anything else about the new one? I think the movie makes a good choice to really lean on Lorne Balfe’s score to get things across rather than having characters yapping about this or that over it. I really liked Shea Wigham and Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales. I think all these people had really high WAR scores, if you get my meaning. You could argue they could’ve popped in the anime guy from Ghost Protocol as the guy chasing him down instead but then there’d be no Shea! You could argue they could’ve swapped in Thandiwe Newton or even Paula Patton but then there’d be no Hayley. There’s all sorts of people who Gabriel could’ve been but then, yeah, you get it. A lot of the things the movie did which are the sort of things that really bother me in movies when they’re done badly — the lighter business, for instance — worked great, worked perfectly, the movie pulled them off without a hitch.

 

Oh, one more thing. I wonder if Henry Czerny was intended as a super duper secret surprise. The scene at the beginning where a passel of everyone’s favourite character actors are shown to the audience one by one — each of them a plausible enough choice as The Guy for this movie — only to reveal that it’s Kittridge, Kittridge is back as The Guy, would’ve hit so hard for me if I didn’t already know we were getting more Kittridge.

 

Oh, wait. One last thing this time for real. Well, actually, more like six last things. Here are some moments that struck me as Looney Tunes (affectionate) :

 

  • Shea Wigham and Shea Wigham’s sidekick looking around in the airport for Tom Cruise while Tom Cruise does the Tom Cruise run above them
  • Hayley Atwell driving the car directly into a bunch of parked motorcycles and them toppling each other over one after the other in sequence (and then Pom Klementieff driving on top of the motorbike corpses with a look of delight on her face!)
  • the thing with the teensy tinsy yellow car and the windshield wipers; just the whole of it, really
  • Vanessa Kirby awakening from having been tranq’d and immediately falling back to sleep again (hah! they do this twice!)
  • Tom Cruise parachuting in and bodyslamming that guy clear out of the train and then the wind catching his parachute and him knocking Frederik Schmidt out
  • the whole final train sequence with Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell climbing their way up out of the tilted environments. Like, the piano! Come on!
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