With a nifty little bug taking over my body late this week, I found myself with some time to do some watching (hence the double-digit tally this week after many round of low scores).
Given that it all came just two days after I caught up with the latest MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film, I thought it would be an opportune time to revisit the entire series in one long go. I’ve waned from watching an entire series in one sitting through recent years, but doing it for the MISSION films allowed me an opportunity I hadn’t taken advantage of in the past: to see the evolution of a franchise…specifically one almost left for dead.
Some perspective: When MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III dropped in the early summer of 2006, it flopped. It opened to $47M and eventually finished with $134M. Those numbers may seem respectable, but remind yourself that its previous instalment opened to $91M en route to $215M.
This was a referendum on Tom Cruise’s off-screen personality, and audiences had simply grown weary of his persona. This underperformance would lead the series to consider handing itself off to a new actor, and likewise for five whole years to go by before another instalment would arrive.
However, in between 2006 and now, something funny has happened. Tom Cruise dialled back his schtick, gritty spy films once again became en vogue, and audiences found themselves hungry for films that lean on practical filmmaking (MAD MAX, FAST & FURIOUS, etc)
So here we have a series that had to rethink itself…and when it did, something interesting happened.
Watching the series all in one go, one sees two films that wanted to be superhero movies – all about moving from one stunt to the next. As such, they don’t work all that well now and have aged rather badly.
But then something funny happens…
The series shifts focus in the third instalment. The superhero is more human, the outside world is allowed in, and all of those supporting pieces that are put into place around Ethan Hunt get much more fleshed-out. In part 2, when Nyah considers throwing her plague-infested body off a cliff, we feel surprisingly nothing. In part 5, when Benji finds himself in great peril, we find ourselves deeply concerned. Such is the success of the new, team-based, legacy fuelled adventures of the IMF.
So, if someone had never seen an M:I film, my suggestion after watching all five in two days would be this. Throw out parts one and two; begin watching from part three and consider it a story that charts the re-construction of a hero who was once ready to hang it up.
It curiously works a lot better that way!
Here’s the week at hand…
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION – In a perfect world, more of our blockbusters would be this good
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – Timely, in ways it couldn’t have anticipated when production began.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
THE WRECKING CREW – This is the fifth or sixth doc of its ilk, and the weakest. Track down the records and listen to them instead.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
MUD – This “lowdown dirty dog” is my favorite sort of McConaughey character.
GONE GIRL – I undersold this movie when I first covered it. This thing is goddamned genius.
THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX – Cussin’ beautiful.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Nope.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 – Definitely not
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 – Better
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL – Now you’ve got it