Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the latest Ethan Hunt adventure you never asked for…
How do these keep getting made? More importantly, how do they keep getting better? The simple answer is Tom Cruise owns a significant piece of the M:I film property. Whatever paper he signed back in the mid-nineties, it’s financially in his best interest to keep Mission: Impossible moving along, and he tends to use his considerable clout to persuade directors who normally wouldn’t be caught dead next to a Hollywood adaptation of a 1960s TV show to climb aboard. What do Brian De Palma, John Woo, JJ Abrams, and Brad Bird (directing his first ever movie that’s not a cartoon!) have in common? Cruise has somewhat miraculously talked them all into lending their talents to a movie franchise the world never asks for more of, but continues to see anyway. This time it’s Christopher McQuarrie’s turn to helm, and although his resume may look less impressive than M:I’s previous helmers (writer of Usual Suspects, director of Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher) damned if the result doesn’t look every bit as intriguing.
Like most of you, I can’t say really I love the Mission: Impossible series, yet despite no one ever asking for another round of Ethan Hunt espionage, our mild curiosity has generally been rewarded. Like Fast and the Furious, Mission: Impossible is a series the movie-going public has passively allowed to get better as it movies into its second decade of existence, and the evolution has been nothing short of fascinating. The first movie was pretty loud and unremarkable, yet built the groundwork for fairly clever, better-than-Bond gadgetry and copious backstabbery.
The second film solidified that the series might be better off trading in practical stunts and effects, and more importantly proved Cruise’s willingness to commit to them 1000%. The third movie became far more grounded in characters and built a greater universe surrounding Hunt, instead of behaving like an anthology series where only Crusie is the constant. All of this gelled into Ghost Protocol, the fourth film, where they finally assembled all the proper components of a modern franchise and it is really a shitload of fun. I can’t think of any other film series we waited for this patiently to come around, but Ghost Protocol, fifteen years after the first film, was literally the first time I said to myself, “Yeah, I could definitely watch more of these.” I don’t care about the plot of Rogue Nation, which is barely hinted at in the trailer (plus I’m sure it will gleefully unravel our expectations in the first twenty minutes.) That doesn’t matter anymore… because they had me with Tom Cruise hanging of the side of fucking a plane. And you know he’s really doing it too, because the shot’s not all that remarkable otherwise. Shoulda called Chris Nolan, Tommy!