Ranking Mission Impossible films on its 25th Anniversary

MI franchise

Boy, don’t I feel old!! Can’t believe the Mission Impossible FILM franchise is now 25 years old. The first film opened on May 22, 1996. I remember watching the TV series, created by Bruce Geller, quite regularly and they were a lot of fun. The TV series is more on an ensemble cast, with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) as the one receiving the classified recording telling him of his team’s mission, which then self destructs.

Now, I thought the first MI movie felt decidedly much darker, and this time instead of an ensemble, we’ve got the protagonist Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who always receives the message that he then relays to the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team. Even the poster above only features his famous profile, and he remains the top draw of the entire franchise. The series features more and more daring stunts, given Cruise is such an adrenaline junkie, but fortunately, since Christopher McQuarrie came on board after they had a good working relationship in Jack Reacher, the movies have improved as well.

MI-movies

Now, having seen the latter 3 films fairly recently, I thought I’d rank the six films in the order of WORST (least favorite) to BEST:

6. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II (2000)

Directed by: John Woo

IMF agent Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney to find and destroy a genetically modified disease called “Chimera”.

I barely remember much about this movie as I haven’t rewatched it since seeing it the first time. I think the opening with Cruise hanging off a rock was pretty cool, but Dougray Scott made for a lame villain as disavowed I.M.F. Agent. He just isn’t menacing and comes across melodramatic and whiny. Poor Thandie Newton also comes across as nothing more than a damsel in distress.

5. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996)

Directed by: Brian De Palma

An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization.

I actually quite like this one despite being oh-so-serious. For one, I like Kristin Scott Thomas in an action movie and the setting in Old Town Prague is really atmospheric. It’s also got some top-notch actors, i.e. Jon Voigt and Vanessa Redgrave. I have to say that the multiple double-crossing plots questioning Ethan’s loyalty proves to be too convoluted that it takes the fun out of it. But at least some of the action scenes are memorable, especially the server room scene that’s iconic and full of suspense. The final chase scene involving a chopper, bullet train inside a tunnel is beyond ridiculous but of course so exhilarating to watch.

4. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III (2006)

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

IMF agent Ethan Hunt comes into conflict with a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer who threatens his life and his fiancée in response.

Still sad that Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone. He’s an intriguing choice as a villain and he’s believably sadistic. I think I’m just not too crazy about the love story between Ethan and Julia (Michelle Monaghan), though later in the franchise, they figured out a nice closure for the two. It’s still very much an Ethan-centric story that talented people like Keri Russell and Billy Crudup are pretty much wasted here.

3. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Ghost Protocol (2011) – full review

Directed by: Brad Bird

The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

This is the one with the Burj Khalifa and perhaps one of my all time favorite action scenes (not just in a Mission Impossible movies!). It’s also the first time Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is introduced and he’s been an interesting character to follow. I also feel like the tone is decidedly lighter here and feature more of an ensemble piece with Simon Pegg + Paula Patton (who brings such sexy vibe to the team), though I miss Ving Rhames in this one. Despite having a so-so villain (Michael Nyqvist), this one plays like a popcorn Summer blockbuster despite being released during the holiday season. 

2. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Rogue Nation (2015) – full review

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan and his team take on their most impossible mission yet when they have to eradicate an international rogue organization as highly skilled as they are and committed to destroying the IMF.

Thank you McQuarrie for making an already watchable franchise and truly make it great. Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is perhaps my favorite casting pick in the entire franchise, she is absolutely dynamite–smart,sexy, no-nonsense–I think she’s Ethan’s equal in the spy game as she’s a former MI6 agent. Ferguson also gives Cruise a run for his money in the charm department, which is why the Vienna Opera House scene stands as one of my favorite action sequences in the MI movies. I quite like seeing Alec Baldwin as a CIA operative, but I can’t say I’m too fond of Sean Harris as the villain, mainly because of his gravely voice. Still, there are more good than bad that I still rate this movie pretty highly.

1. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Fallout (2018) – full review

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

I was thrilled to see McQuarrie back directing an MI movie AND to have Rebecca Ferguson back, yay! Pretty much the regular MIF team are back, with Angela Bassett + Henry Cavill added as CIA agents, and Vanessa Kirby as a mysterious woman called the White Widow. Cavill proves to be a pretty darn good addition and I actually enjoy him SO much more than in his role as Superman (aside from Man of Steel). LOVE the sequence in Paris night club, plus it’s got a fantastically-bombastic finally involving in yet another chopper chase. Having rewatched this several times, I definitely would rate Fallout as the best Mission: Impossible film to date. It’s full of humor, great tensions and spectacular actions sequences that you can’t wait to see what crazy Cruise will tackle next!


So, are you a fan of this franchise? How would YOU rank the six MI movies so far?

Top 10 Films of 2018 + Honorable Mentions

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and may 2019 bring you much joy, success and wonderful moments!

Well, it’s time for the obligatory Top 10 Films of 2018. Since there are still plenty of 2018 movies I have not seen yet, I should preface this post with the fact that I haven’t seen Roma, Cold War (seeing it tomorrow!), First Reformed, BlacKKKlansman, They Shall Not Grow Old, etc. which could easily alter my current Top 10. It goes without saying of course, that it’s my list, and there’s no formula as to how I pick them, it’s all based on instinct. Films are so personal that there’s no top 10 list is ever the same from person to person, so naturally there is no right or wrong list.

Well without further ado, here we go… 

Top 10 Films of 2018

(In alphabetical order)

1. A Star Is Born (review)

This film swept me off my feet. Yes it’s the fourth adaptation but it’s actually the first one I’ve ever seen (yes, really!) and so it felt fresh to me. I was floored by the performances of Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga and their palpable chemistry together. It was an emotional love story that stuck with me long after the end credits, and that’s a testament to Cooper’s excellent directing (his debut no less) as well as the wonderful original songs that add so much to the movie. As I set to make my own romantic drama of my own, I so admire to see such an emotionally-rich love story portrayed on screen.

2. Black Panther (review)

Wakanda Forever! What a phenomenal movie that happens to be a superhero film… in fact, Black Panther transcend the comic-book action movie genre and no surprise that it’s become the first of its kind to generate Oscar buzz! Chadwick Boseman led the excellent ensemble cast in a glorious journey of a man-who-would-be-king and faces an enemy worthy that matched his strength. Love all the strong, bad-ass women in this movie and appreciate that Ryan Coogler gives them a chance to shine. It’s a movie I could watch over and over, and always find something new thing to marvel at.

3. Green Book (review)

I didn’t realize this movie has proven to be quite divisive. I actually overheard a critic during a screening of another film talking about this movie in such a negative way, saying that the movie told a fascinating black man but focuses on the white guy instead. I actually didn’t see that way and actually think the movie offers a balanced view of how the two lives of Dr. Don Shirley and his chosen driver Tony Lip intersect and changed both of their lives forever. I love Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen’s performances, perhaps one of my favorite cinematic pairing ever. I think it’s interesting that one’s upbringing might view this film differently. As a woman of color and a US immigrant, I see this as a beautiful story of friendship set during the dark times in American South ripe with racial discrimination.

4. Leave No Trace (review)

I am so glad I was able to see this movie during MSPIFF before it was released publicly… AND got to chat with its writer/director Debra Granik. It’s a beautiful, restrained and graceful film about a father & daughter going ‘off the grid’ that makes you contemplate about how we approach life and our social culture. I love the quiet intensity of its leads Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie. I was in awe by the gorgeous, ethereal setting of the Oregon forest as the leads set off on a harrowing journey. It also boasts an ending that packs an emotional wallop without much words spoken.

5. Mission Impossible: Fallout (review)

It’s rare that a huge studio franchise actually gets better and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Tom Cruise never seems to age and despite his broken ankle (which you can actually witness in the movie itself!), he still delivers one of the most fun action movie that thrills from start to finish. Heck, he even hired Superman himself Henry Cavill who’s ironically much better here as a villain than as a Kryptonian hero. Glad that Rebecca Ferguson is back here reprising her role, and we’ve got yet another compelling female character thanks to Vanessa Kirby. I sure hope Cruise and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie continue to work together as it proves to be a fruitful collaboration.

6. Paddington 2 (review)

I just adore this English bear, voiced so perfectly by Ben Whishaw, and his adopted family. I love how unabashedly sweet, wholesome and charming this movie is, boasted by a delightful cast including a hilariously-smarmy Hugh Grant as a washed out actor. Brendan Gleeson also provides such fun comic relief as the cleverly-named ‘Knuckles’ McGinty (classic!) I didn’t grow up with the children stories by Michael Bond, but I can’t get enough of Paddington’s adventure and its heartwarming message… ‘if we’re kind and polite the world will be right.’

7. The Rider

It’s another film I saw during MSPIFF on the big screen. It’s a sophomore feature by writer/director Chloé Zhao, starring newcomer Brady Jandreau in his breakout role. It’s an understated yet powerful character study of a man in the aftermath of a tragic riding accident. I deeply feel for his character (also named Brady) as he contemplates his life after he loses the one thing that gives him a sense of purpose. It’s an astute and exquisite piece of work from the Chinese filmmaker and not surprisingly, Marvel honcho Kevin Feige has hired her to do a movie based on the Eternals comics. I sure hope she gets to make more films in Hollywood.

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

If there’s one movie I didn’t think I’d watch, let alone end up on my Best list, it’d be this one. I honestly didn’t know much about this movie at all, it’s my hubby who was excited about it when the trailer was first released. I saw it on a morning advanced screening in a packed theater and was absolutely enthralled by its stunning animation and the story of Miles Morales and his fellow super-heroes/heroines. Apparently SONY has moved to patent its inventive animation technology that honors its comic book origin with thought balloon, written sound effects, etc. The voice cast is great, heck it’s even got Nic Cage as the Spider-man Noir. This movie is so full of energy, hilarious and heartwarming moments, all which made it one of the most gratifying superhero movies even in a year crowded with movies in that genre.

9. Widows

I mentioned in my Golden Globes post that the lack of love for this movie and its leading lady Viola Davis an egregious snub. Yes it’s marketed as a heist thriller and it certainly has all the workings of the genre but oh, it’s SO much more! Just because the film has a more commercial appeal than Steve McQueen‘s previous work doesn’t mean it’s less substantial. Right from the titillating opening sequence–Davis making out with Liam Neeson in bed–the taut script (co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn) interweaves intrigue, action and social commentary in a slow-burn but captivating manner. I’ve always admired Davis as an actress but here she easily steals the screen even amongst a stellar, award-winning cast.

10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (review)

I didn’t grow up watching Mr. Rogers so I’m only vaguely familiar with the subject of this documentary. But after seeing this film, I totally understand why he’s such a beloved figure to both kids and adults alike. I’m truly inspired by Fred Rogers, the person behind the tv persona in the iconic cardigan. It proves that kindness and compassion never goes out of style and will never fail to inspire. I’m glad filmmaker Morgan Neville finally introduced ‘America’s favorite neighbor’ to new audiences, especially in a time where there’s so much division and negativity all around us.


15 Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

Some of the movies here I like very, very much and I have actually enjoyed more than the ones on my main top 10. Some I appreciate but I don’t really feel like watching it again.

  1. Annihilation (review)
  2. Ant-Man and The Wasp
  3. Avengers Infinity War – Part I (review)
  4. Can You Ever Forgive Me
  5. Crazy Rich Asians (review)
  6. Death of Stalin
  7. The Favourite
  8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  9. If Beale Street Could Talk
  10. Mamma Mia Here We Go Again
  11. Mary Queen of Scots
  12. Mary Poppins Returns
  13. Mowgli
  14. Ralph Breaks The Internet (review)
  15. Vice

WORST FILMS (I saw in 2018):

  • A Wrinkle In Time (review)
    Beautiful visuals and the lead young actress is great, but ultimately the movie is a huge letdown.
  • Gringo
    Though I like seeing David Oyelowo in a comedy, the story is so vapid. What a waste of a strong cast!
  • The Little Mermaid (Netflix)
    The story intrigued me but the production looks cheap and the acting is simply atrocious! The lead actor (who was decent in the Narnia movie) looked bored the entire time.

Dodged the bullet: 

Fifty Shades Freed, Venom, Life Itself, Robin Hood, anything with Gerard Butler in it released in the past 2 years.


Best Series I saw in 2018:

  • Altered Carbon
    (check out my in-depth commentary of the show)
  • The Crown Season 1
  • Bodyguard
  • Daredevil Season 3
    (check out my top 10 reasons why I LOVE it)
  • The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (season 1)

Top 5 New-To-Me Movies I saw in 2018:

  • Brief Encounter
  • The Big Sick
  • Crazy Stupid Love
  • Risen
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas

Well, what do you think of my Top 10 list? Any of your favorites on the list?

FlixChatter Review – Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

The Mission: Impossible film franchise is one of the few that somehow got better and better after its third sequel struggle to make a dent at the box office. Not only did the later sequels were financially successful, they’re also critically darlings. Looking at Rottentomatoes.com, Mission: Impossible 4-6 received mid to high 90% rating.

After a mission gone wrong and three nuclear missile heads are in the hands of a new group of terrorists known as The Apostles, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his teammates Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) must retrieve the weapons. When Hunt was getting an intel briefing from his boss Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), as to where he can find the nuclear weapons, they’re both got interrupted by a new CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett). Sloan is upset that the IMF team lost the nuclear heads and insists that her agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) must go with Ethan to retrieve them.

First on their task is to capture and impersonate a man named John Lark (Liang Yang) and meet with a mysterious woman named White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), in Paris who has the connection to the Apostles. But when Hunt and Walker met with White Widow, she insisted that they must break out an international terrorist and Hunt’s nemesis Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) from prison or they won’t get the nuclear weapons. Of course this complicates the mission but both Hunt and Walker went along and helped Lane escaped. Along the way, Hunt ran into an old friend Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She’s also has her own mission and that is to eliminate Lane for good. Well, things never go as planned and Hunt must use all of his skills to try to save the world from chaos and also save those who he cares about.

For the first time in franchise history, the same director and writer Christopher McQuarrie of the previous film has returned and take charge of this new mission. To my surprise, McQuarrie has exceeded what he created in the last picture. He crafted a complexed storyline that’s full of twists, drama, humor and big action sequences. By hiring new crew members, notably a new cinematographer and composer, he was able to differentiate this film from the last one. It’s clearly that he used Nolan’s The Dark Knight as his inspiration for this outing. The film even contains a big chase that’s very similar to a chase sequence from The Dark Knight. A big bathroom brawl, a spectacular motorcycle and car chase through the streets of Paris and a helicopter chase are the highlights of the set pieces.

Cinematographer Rob Hardy is having a good year. He shot the excellent Annihilation for Alex Garland earlier this year and again for this film, he did a tremendous job. This film contains so many wide shots in the series since Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. This is good because we the audience can actually see the action and not trying to figure out what’s going on super chaotic scenes. Shout out also goes to composer Lorne Balfe who apparently is the understudy of Hans Zimmer. So, of course this film’s score sounds like it’s was composed by Zimmer. There’s still the well know Mission: Impossible theme but Balfe made it sounded like something very original. Just a little trivia, Hans Zimmer did compose a Mission: Impossible film, he worked on the second one.

With three box office bombs in a row, Cruise poured all of his performance into this film. He did the usual crazy stunts but was willing to show his character’s age and flaws by having him get his ass whooped a few times in the film. The rest of the cast members were pretty good too. I was afraid Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust might just be nothing more than a cameo but her role was an integral part of the story and as usual she saved Hunt’s life couple of times in the film. Simon and Luthor didn’t really have much to do except to be comic relief. Luther did have a touching scene with Ilsa, I really liked that scene. I liked the addition of Alec Balwin’s character and he even got involved in one action scene with the team members. Bassett and Cavill were a nice addition and I hope we see more of Bassett’s character in the next Mission film. Kirby’s White Widow is an interesting character and I thought she played the role quite well even though she didn’t get a lot of screen time.

Having seen the film twice already, I can declare Fallout is the best Mission: Impossible film yet. It’s full of humor, great tensions and spectacular actions sequences. If there’s an IMAX, Dolby Cinema or other large vendor theater near you, go see it there. It’s definitely my favorite film of the summer and maybe even of the year.


So have you seen Mission Impossible: Fallout? Well, what did YOU think?