I marathoned all six “Mission: Impossible” movies. Please send help.

Mission: Impossible

  • Most of the stuff in this movie that was cool to me as a kid is still cool to me as an adult. Sure, there’s plenty of cheese in this sandwich, but it’s tasty. The 2001-esque heist scene in which Ethan rappels into a vault is still great. The train/helicopter chase at the end holds up surprisingly well. Action feels earned, as opposed to just relentlessly hurled at you, which might be the most noteworthy (and best) difference about the first movie and the rest of the series.
  • How refreshing to watch an action movie where the object isn’t to save the world from annihilation, or a city from nuclear destruction, or from countries going to war. The MacGuffin in this movie is a list of names of under cover agents. If the list got out, the agents would be killed. Is the list important to the Impossible Mission Force, the series’ goofily named espionage agency? Sure, obviously. But the scale is smaller, meaning success isn’t a guarantee, which goes a long way to creating drama and tension. If you tell me a group of Australian anarchist super nerds are going to hack the United States’ nuclear silos and blow up every major city in the country, I’m going to assume, as a viewer, that this is not going to happen. No amount of intense music or money shots of nuclear missiles getting ready to launch will convince me that our heroes will do anything other than stop that launch. On the other hand, our heroes could lose a list of names. As illogical as it may seem, a floppy disc with a list of names on it is more exciting than a nuclear bomb hidden in the New York City Subway.
  • Parts of this movie have not aged well, especially anything related to computers. In 1996 the public’s experience with the Internet was far less extensive, so you could get away with these things back then, but in 2018 there are scenes that are so dumb they play like parody. In one scene, for example, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) stays up all night sending emails to random email addresses that he makes up, based on an eye-rollingly silly hunch (an Ethan Hunch?), in hopes that one of the addresses he’s banging out happens to belong to an arms dealer named Max. This is after he fruitlessly attempts to navigate to “MAX.COM” on the internet. Top. Tier. Espionage.
  • This movie savagely fails the Bechdel test. There are only two significant female characters in the movie, one of whom exists solely to bang and betray Ethan. The villain goes as far as to describe this sexual encounter as Ethan “tasting the goods.” Max, the arms dealer, ends up being the only interesting woman in the whole show, but she is tragically underutilized.

Mission: Impossible II

  • There were so many zooms, and so much slow motion. I should have kept count of all the zooming and slow motion shots. I did count the number of mask pull reveals, though. (Five. There were five.)
  • Ethan and Nyah, his new love interest, fall in love in a supremely stupid way. Their first encounter reeked of thick, sweaty cheese, but it had a Batman/Catwoman vibe and was at least mildly fun. After that entertaining scene, though, they immediately get into an incredibly dangerous flirty car chase and almost kill each other. Ethan pulls her from the edge of a cliff he chased her off of, and bada bing, bada boom, now they’re totally in love. Is the writer of this movie an alien?
  • Women in general are treated even worse in M:I II than they were in the first film. If the first movie was flippant towards the female gender, this one is downright chauvinist. The one and only independently minded woman in the entire movie is used as bait, and ultimately plays the role of a damsel in distress.
  • So much for the smaller scale and at least mildly believable plot of the first movie. M:I II’s story revolves around a virus that the bad guy wants to release into the air of major cities so he can sell people the cure. At least, I think that’s the plot. It’s been a few days and I now remember the experience of watching Mission: Impossible II like I would a distant fever dream.
  • Floppy hair! Metallica! Limp Bizkit! If you hate yourself and want to be transported back to the year 2000, I highly recommend this film.

Mission: Impossible III

  • Does anyone actually have parties like the one we see at the beginning of this movie? Ethan and Julia have like three hundred close, attractive friends. I’d be jealous if it didn’t seem so exhausting.
  • Aaron Paul, the actor who would play Jessie Pinkman in Breaking Bad a few years later, has a bit part as a slacker/mooch dude. I don’t think the movie needed his character, but seeing him was comforting, like running into an old friend after the traumatic experience of watching the second movie.
  • Speaking of actors I like, Philip Seymour Hoffman crushes his role as the villain. I think the movie implies Hoffman is just a pawn and that there are bigger, more sinister forces at play behind him, but forget that malarkey. Hoffman is the best bad guy of the series, and it isn’t close. He’s creepy, unnerving, and perfectly hammy.
Most scenes with Hoffman look like this
  • There’s some quality cliche dialogue at play here. The classic “we’ve got company” had me rolling my eyes, but Ethan Hunt looking directly at the camera and saying “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” after scaling the wall surrounding the Vatican both baffled and cracked me up. My complete guess is that the line is a reference to the original T.V. show and is meant to make the seven or eight remaining fans of the show smile. If outrageously deep cut fan service isn’t the reasoning for that legendary piece of writing, then, well, I just don’t know.
  • Something about this movie feels like top-tier network television as opposed to a Hollywood blockbuster, but no matter how much I think about it, I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what that something is. Maybe it’s the soapy writing, the pacing, the cinematography, or the action choreography. Likely, it’s simply that I got so used to seeing Abram’s style on the small screen and it comes off as out of place on the big screen.

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (IV)

  • The action in this movie is just so damn perfect. The danger feels real enough to be exhilarating, thanks to Cruise’s devotion to practical stunts and plenty of smart directing, but it never goes too long without reminding you that you’re here to have a good time. Example: Ethan climbs the side of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, with futuristic special gloves that stick to the windows using sweet-ass spy technology. After one of the gloves fails, he takes it off and allows it to float away in the wind, leaving him to make the rest of the climb with one functional climby spy glove. Moments later, he sees the glove again, now stuck to the building and flapping around. He gives the glove an “oh, brother” glance before it falls back off and dances away in the sky. It’s these kinds of Saturday morning cartoon visual gags that imbue this movie with character and charm. Mission: Impossible II is big and stupid. Ghost Protocol is big and playful. It makes all the difference.
u kiddin me m8
  • Not a lot of talking in Ghost Protocol. More so than any of the other movie in the franchise, the story here gets told visually. I imagine the shooting script is incredibly short, but there are stacks and stacks and stacks of storyboard pages. As a quick, non-scientific test, I skipped to thirty random points in the movie and let it play out for about five to ten seconds at each point. There was no dialogue spoken in twenty three out of the thirty random spots I chose, and most of that was character driven stuff, as opposed to exposition heavy dialogue. I like it.
  • The head injuries Ethan endures in Ghost Protocol are bothersome. I get that he’s essentially a cinematic super human and can’t physically be inured in any significant way, but a number of scenes feature Ethan destroying his skull. We get gnarly crashing sound effects and nasty reaction shots from Ethan himself, but of course he walks away from all of them with no apparent cognitive side-effects. Typically, these kinds of movies give you the impression that the characters feel no pain and can’t be hurt, so it’s no surprise when they jog off a gunshot to the leg or drag themselves out of a burning, crashed vehicle. In contrast, Ghost Protocol does a good job of making you believe that the main character is getting physically demolished, while still having him walk off his injuries. The effect for me as a viewer is disconcerting. Get this man to a hospital.
  • The climax of this movie, a hand to hand fight scene in an automated parking garage, is one of the series’ most memorable moments. I love how personal it felt compared to the climaxes of all the other movies, which typically involved vehicle chases or big explosions.

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (V)

  • Tom Cruise almost definitely sold his soul to Xenu in exchange for immortality — the dude is almost sixty years old and still looks good hanging off of planes. Still, it has been wild seeing him age throughout the series. He looks 30-something in Rogue Nation and not old enough to drink in Mission: Impossible.
  • There is a scene in which a government advisory panel questions the insanity of the Impossible Mission Force. It makes sense for this conversation to happen — it’s actually surprising it took five movies before it did. However, their decision to shut down an efficient task force that’s literally saved the world so many times strikes me as pretty stupid.
  • The big heist/infiltration scene of this movie was pretty weak. On paper, it sounds awesome, and parts of it are cool, but all the under water stuff felt too much like a cartoon for me to buy into the danger. I hope Cruise didn’t actually do some insane under water stunts to film that scene, only to have it look like it was all done on a computer later.
  • The villain if this movie is almost cool, but like most of Rogue Nation, he doesn’t have quite enough flavor for me to have much to say about him. He reminds me of a slightly better version of Moriarty from the Bennedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock, which isn’t a compliment. The character returns in Fallout, where he’s handled a little better, but he’s still fairly bland.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout (VI)

  • Seeing Tom Cruise sprint is hilarious, but his cyborg stiff-body method does seem effective. That guy can go. Watching the entire series back to back gives the impression that Cruise started running in Mission: Impossible III and is still zooming around to this day.
  • The villain's scheme is pretty much identical to Ozymandias’ from the Watchmen comic book, sans the big squid thing. Derivative.
  • The stunts in this movie are absolutely nuts. Cruise broke his ankle jumping from rooftop to rooftop in Paris (the shot in which he breaks his ankle is used in the final cut), he hangs from a helicopter, pilots said helicopter, preforms a HALO jump (according to reports, Cruise himself jumped out of a plane 94 times for this sequence), drives a motorcycle through traffic with no safety gear on, and has a fight scene on a dangerous cliff-side with Henry Cavill, who also didn’t use a stunt double for the cinematic confrontation. All of the Mission: Impossible movies boast seriously impressive stunts, but this installment is non-stop in a way that the others aren’t.
  • Will Ethan’s employer cut him a break already? In literally every movie but the second, he is at odds in some way with the IMF. How many times does he have to save civilization as we know it before he gets a little respect? At this point, it would make more sense for Ethan to become a super villain as opposed to continuing to save the world. Even stranger, I can’t recall him ever saying a single bad thing about the IMF, or any of the people in his own government who make it so hard for him to do his job. He’s so single minded, it’s almost disturbing.

Final Thoughts

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Adam G.

Adam G.

Books, movies, wine, coffee, and disc golf.