My mission today, and I chose to accept it, was to spend my day off doing something I'd always wanted to do:
Watch the entire Mission: Impossible film series in order, culminating, of course, with the new one.
I'd forgotten how well put together this movie was. There's some interesting first-person tracking shots, there's a lot of tense twists, there's big action that still stands up today, and it's interesting to see Tom Cruise still in the young hotshot role as if Maverick from Top Gun was recruited right after taking down that MIG. There's an slick opener, and the ill-fated IMF crew at the start make you believe thy've worked together for quite a while. Also, Danny Elfman does the score, beginning a trend of the biggest composers of an era doing these films that carried for a good while. #3 in the ranking, as far as I'm concerned.
Mission: Impossible II
God, what a weird duck this movie is. It starts out as a spy thriller and then transforms into a typical John Woo movie, like Woo was playing at the idea of doing something different and then a dove flew in front of him and all bets were off. Featuring Thandie Newton as The Woman, and Dougray Scott as The Role That Cost Him Wolverine. Not a BAD movie per se, but certainly the worst of this franchise. Hans Zimmer on the score duties for this one, in that time before Nolan got a hold of him and he still put some effort into orchestration. #6 in the ranking so far.
Mission: Impossible III
One of the best cold opens of all time, featuring the best villain the franchise has ever had... in service of a plot that favors cutesy tricks and a literal Maguffin over thoughtful planning, kind of flying in the face of the series in a way that even the last one didn't. But man, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is so good at being an amoral son of a bitch. Michael Giacchino on the score, as per usual for an Abrams movie and he uses more of the show's themes than anyone in the series prior, probably because he was a TV guy. #4 in the ranking.
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
So this is the first one with The Big Stunt, where Tom Cruise is hanging off a building in Dubai. It's also indicative of the times, where Jeremy Renner is brought in as a potential replacement for the franchise in the future (remember that weird few years?) Other than that though, not really that great. There's a lot of self-referential humor that doesn't feel earned (PRO TIP: If you're going to have a character that's going to point out that the plan is dumb constantly, it makes you feel like there's not real skill involved at all.) Brad Bird also does a fakeout sequence in this one, which is a technique that carries over into the future movies. Michael Giacchino is still on score duties, following up on a lot of his themes from the last one, including the surprise cameo at the end. There's also a stinger for the Syndicate, the anti-IMF organization from the TV show, which probably excited like a few dozen people. #5 in the ranking
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
So Take 2 on a big memorable villain for the franchise, and if they don't quite hit the mark it's not for lack of trying. This one brings back some of the slickness and thrills of the early movies while keeping enough room in the script for Tom Cruise to almost kill himself doing big stunts. Helpd along by a director that he trusts that isn't afraid to play with what you know about the actor (like the sequence where an opponent stands to full height, almost dwarfing Cruise which would have felt unheard of even ten years before. Also finally solidifies a core team for the first time since the first movie, which really helps in the dynamics and dialogue, Joe Kraemer on the score duties for this one, having worked with McQuarrie and Cruise on Jack Reacher, following up on Giacchino's heavy use of the TV theme but also mixing in Zimmer's use of leitmotif. #2 in the ranking which of course means I consider
Mission: Impossible Fallout
The best MI so far. This one is a culmination of all the movies, featuring characters, scenes and even a voiceclip that are callbacks in someway or another to every single movie in the franchise. It plays on you knowing what established characters will and won't do and it trusts you to pay attention with only the barest minimum of nudging, just like the first and second one. There's some nailbiting chase sequences, Tom Cruise runs seemingly forever like in the 3rd movie, and the final sequence is one of the most thrilling action sequences of all time. Unfortunately, there's some literal who on score duties for this one and it kind of shows, the music is indicative of post Nolan Zimmer, which is ironic. Still, really damn good.
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We the best
We will cut a frowny face in your chest, little wench
I'm unmentionably fresh, I'm a mensch, get correct
I will walk into a court while it wrecks, screaming "Yes!
I am guilty motherfuckers, I am death."
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