Ranking Mission Impossible films on its 25th Anniversary

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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.

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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?

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?

FlixChatter Review: Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

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I’ve been a fan of this long-standing franchise even from the first one by Brian De Palma. Looking back, it certainly was a more cerebral, somber affair as it took itself way too seriously. It might’ve been the fourth movie when the film took a decidedly lighter tone, but amped up the action to be even crazier. It’s akin to a cinematic roller coaster, a huge adrenaline rush from start to finish. You know when want to go for another round the moment you’re done with a REALLY fun amusement park ride? Well, that’s how I felt the minute the end credits roll.
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It’s to be expected that the stake of Mission Impossible movies get more and more well, impossible. But really, they’re not called the Impossible Missions Force for nothin’. This time Ethan and team take their craziest mission yet, and a personal one. If you’re familiar with the franchise, you know about the mysterious International organization the Syndicate, which is as skilled as the IMF and commited to destroy Ethan & co.

Right from the opening sequence with the highly-publicized plane sequence where Tom Cruise was hanging out on the side of the plane, a stunt the superstar himself performed no less than 8 times, you’ll know what you’re in for. But you’ve got to have a lot more tricks up your sleeve if you show THAT scene early in the movie. Thankfully that is the case here. If you love chases of any kind, whether it be on foot, car, motorbikes, etc. you’ll find them here. It’s as if each action scene tries to one-up the other and I have to say each one is as exhilarathing as the last.

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My favorite scene is the one within the Vienna Opera House, with stunning camera work in the narrow, shadowy corners. The fight scenes are jaw-droppingly spectacular, even more so against the classic aria of Nessun dorma. It’s truly the spectacle to watch going into a movie like this and it looks amazing on the big screen.

Early in the film, we’re introduced to a new character Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), but THIS is her moment to shine. She’s my favorite female character in ALL of the Mission Impossible movies so far. I’d vote to have Ilsa replace Ethan Hunt in future MI movies or have her star in a MI spinoff movies. She’s THAT great. I love the fact that she’s a formidable character who’s no bimbo, and on top of being Ethan’s equal in the action scenes, Ilsa actually has a compelling character arc.

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The relentless logic-defying stunts are electrifying, but I like the fact that director Christopher McQuarrie actually includes one scene that show Ethan is human after all. I won’t mention the scene as to not spoil it for you, but I actually feared for his life for once, even for a moment. There is also an emotional connection between the characters, especially when it comes the dynamic of Ethan’s core group: Benji (Simon Pegg), William (Jeremy Renner), and Luther (Ving Rhames). The camaraderie works well and it’s easy to root for this group.

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Humor is another recipe for success in this franchise. The high-octane stunts are matched with crackin’ wit, mostly from the resident comedian Pegg, but Renner also made the franchise’s oft-used line “I can neither confirm nor deny any details without the secretary’s approval” to hilarious effect. There’s also a particularly humorous scene involving the British PM towards the end. Nice to see Alec Baldwin as another CIA officer, 25 years after playing Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.

If I have one quibble though, it’d be the villain (Sean Harris). I don’t know why the filmmakers think a weird & creepy bad guy is more effective than a normal-looking one. I’d think that a perfectly normal character with a ruthless agenda can be just as menacing, so long as they cast the right actor. Harris just seems more of a damaged, eccentric psychopath than a really scary villain worthy of a super spy like Ethan.

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Thankfully, the rest of the cast delivered and the movie is as fantastically entertaining as ever. Just like the unstoppable franchise, Cruise clearly still has plenty of energy to make us believe he IS Ethan Hunt, he made even James Bond seems rather tame. He’s starting to look older but young enough to pull off the relentless action and even the shirtless scenes. Still I’m thankful there’s no unnecessary romance that’d make me cringe.

I enjoyed the heck out of MI: Ghost Protocol and I remember thinking, boy how’d they top that Burj Khalifa scene?? Well, not only does Rogue Nation manage to top THAT scene, but the movie as a whole. This one now stands as my favorite of the franchise. I rarely say this about any movie, but I hope they continue to make more Mission Impossible movies and hopefully McQuarrie will be back for at least the next one. This is only his third film, and I actually quite like his previous film with Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher. He also wrote the screenplay for Edge of Tomorrow, so it seems that his collaboration with Cruise has been a rewarding one. Joe Kraemer who worked on the score for Jack Reacher also did a great job scoring this one.

I can’t wait to see this again, next time at IMAX. It’s an escapism sort of movie and Rogue Nation delivers on that front, and more.

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So have you seen MI: Rogue Nation? Well, what did YOU think?