An Ode to the Mission Impossible Franchise

Oddly enough, together with the Fast & Furious franchise, the Mission Impossible series has only gotten better as it went on. The second film is a bit of a dud, but the rest are all well-crafted films. Next to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Bourne and Mad Max, it stands pretty high on my favorite action film series list. Every installment is pretty unique in its own way, due to which the series is pretty unique from other franchises. I love it deeply, which is why I’ll be having a Mission Impossible-Week on this blog, as announced on my twitter. In this week, I’ll upload four articles: An Ode to the Mission Impossible Franchise¸ a Here’s a Cool Shot about one of the shots in the series, I’ll Review Mission Impossible: Fallout, and lastly Rank all of the current films. In this first article I’ll give you three main reasons why I love the series as much as I do, so let’s start with reason number one.


1


Probably the most important reason for why I love this series is because of how it gives a handful of directors the chance to give their interpretation of the characters and basic premise. If I remember correctly, it was Tom Cruises who did not want to have the same director on board twice. McQuarrie broke that curse by coming back for the latest installment in the franchise, but other than that, though, each film was helmed by another person and it showed. It makes the series differ from other blockbuster franchises, who, while they might have different directors behind the wheel, kept a consistent style. In the Mission Impossible series, the first film is an obvious De Palma film, the second one’s certainly a Woo film, the third one an Abrams film, the fourth installment a Bird movie and the last two are real McQuarrie films. They each have their own, unique sense of style for better or worse. There’s De Palma with his split diopter focus, John Woo with his over the top action sequences that took inspiration from Asian martial arts, JJ Abrams has his lens flares and close-ups, Brad Bird has that a slick cartoony approach and McQuarrie has an incredible sense of how to block an action scene and make them feel powerful.  At the end of this week, I’ll be ranking all of the films and then you’ll notice I wasn’t the biggest fan of John Woo’s interpretation of the characters and the basic themes. But even if there was that one misstep, I still love the series for the fact that they dared to take those risks and give full creative control to the directors, even though there’s a lot of money at stake. I just really love that uniqueness of the films. It’s constantly something different and it never runs stale. It keeps the series alive and makes it that breath of fresh air we desperately need in a world where action films have become mind-numbing, interchangeable movies that have no sense of style whatsoever and are only made to appeal to a broad audience so that they can cash in a lot of money. I, for one, didn’t realize for quite some time that Rampage and Skyscraper were two different films, and if San Andreas also came out this year, I’d have thought that it’d be the same film as well. They’re all just so similar in a bland way, but Mission Impossible breaks that blockbuster-stereotype by hiring different directors who use their own distinct style to tell the story, and I love it for that.


2


The directors are one thing, but without Tom Cruise, this franchise would be nothing. Tom Cruise is the centerpiece of it all. He’s the glue that keeps it all together, and he does so incredibly well. His charming portrayal of Ethan Hunt makes each movie a joy to watch, even if they mess up his character. He brings a lot of authenticity to the films by performing his own stunts, which also makes the films feel more realistic, except for that odd one out.  It gives them all that grounded feel, and once again, it differentiates the films from other franchises. The stunts he performs have become a selling point for the franchise. Every time he’s doing something more absurd than he did for the previous film. In Ghost Protocol he climbed the Burj Khalifa, in Rogue Nation he hung on the side of an airplane, while it was flying, and for the latest installment, he even learned how to fly a helicopter. The man’s nuts… But it certainly benefits the films. Due to him doing all of his own stunts, there’s also a lack of CGI in these films, which also help at giving it that realistic feeling. There’s no denying that CGI has improved over the years and that it is able to mimic real things, but you’re still slightly aware of the fact that it’s all fake. Tom Cruise really elevates these films like no other actor’s able to do, except for…


3


…the amazing side characters each film has. Nearly every film has a unique ensemble and very few characters return. Ving Rhymes is the only one to appear in every film next to Tom Cruise, and rightfully so. Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg are also the only actors to have a big role in more than one film. Every member of the side characters is unique in their own way. Not once did they rehash the same type of character and just changed out the actor. Sure, Simon Pegg’s character is just like Ving Rhymes’ a computer expert, but their personalities differ immensely. The team dynamics are always fun to see play out on screen. They always add something to the mix that can make for interesting side conflict or extra development of the characters. In the first film, you could trust no one, even if they may seem likable. In the second one, well, in that one the side characters weren’t all that great or valuable. In the third one, we got introduced to the likable dork that Simon Pegg is and while they try to develop the other characters, they don’t succeed at doing so subtlety. In this film, the focus lied more on Hunt as a character, so it’s understandable. In the fourth one, we’re introduced to a team where two members are at odds with one another. It’s always lingering in the background and never takes over the main plot. It adds an interesting dynamic to the film and makes the groups’ interactions more fun to watch. In the fifth one, these tensions are resolved and we’re left with fun banter and a badass new addition to the team; Rebecca Ferguson, who stirs things up. The second to last cast is my personal favorite since they had excellent chemistry and they played off each other extremely well. They got to know each other in Ghost Protocol and were more refined in Rogue Nation. Plus it’s always fun to see a new addition to the team.


And that’s pretty much it; my three main reasons why I love the series as much as I do. They’re explained briefly, but I don’t want to bore you more than I already do. What’s your favorite series of films and what do you like about them? Comment down below!

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3 thoughts on “An Ode to the Mission Impossible Franchise

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