It’s hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible film franchise has been going for nearly 20 years now. Few series have that sort of longevity these days. And it’s not as though it has the billion dollar blockbuster appeal of the likes of James Bond, Star Trek, Star Wars, Transformers or the never-ending Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead the Impossible Missions Force quietly just gets on with it, surfacing every few years to deliver another status report before going dark again.
The first film in 1996 was the typical “let’s revive a much loved television show for an updated modern theatrical release” which was all the rage both then and indeed still today. A quite cold espionage thriller directed with trademark icy precision by Brian De Palma, the film alienated many with its treatment of one of the TV series’ most beloved characters. It took four years for a sequel, and when the second film appeared in 2000 it was a completely different beast, a manically over the top action film directed by the inimitable John Woo. The two entries were as different as ice and fire and only the iconic theme music and burning fuse credits together with the return of Tom Cruise in the starring role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt seemed to even hint that it was part of the same series at all.
Other than being a star vehicle for Tom Cruise performing many of his own eye-watering stunts, the series didn’t really seem to have much of a purpose and had long since lost touch with the TV show’s premise of intricate heists and deceptions undertaken by a team each with their own unique talents, compared with the one-man-does-it-all Ethan Hunt. When there was no sign of a third film for six years it appeared that the franchise had come to a natural end. Read the rest of this entry »