Mission: Impossible - Fallout — Where does Tom Cruise's action entertainer stand in the six-part series?
Mission: Impossible - Fallout makes it seem like Ethan Hunt and the man who plays him have both been genuinely pushed to their limit. Here’s a look back, then, to see where the film stands
Six films over 22 years, each more gruelling and more high-stakes than the previous one; you’ve got to wonder how Tom Cruise does it. It’s a hit-and-miss franchise, the M:I series, yet you can’t help waiting to see what leaps (of faith and otherwise) Ethan Hunt makes you participate in with every new outing.
The latest in the franchise — Mission:Impossible - Fallout — is the sort of film that will make you look back fondly at the series if you’re a fan, because this one makes it seem like Ethan Hunt and the man who plays him have both been genuinely pushed to their limit. Here’s a look back, then, to see where Fallout stands in the series.
6. Mission:Impossible II
John Woo’s actioner just hasn’t aged well, despite some iconic stunts and action sequences. Tom Cruise struts about with a flowing mane, but it’s a bit of a yawn fest from the plot perspective. Limp Bizkit’s song remains the most memorable thing about this film, even though Bollywood still shamelessly turns to it when they run out of ideas. (I’m looking at you, Dilwale.)
5. Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Right from the way Tom Cruise’s entry scene in this film has been staged, to the Burj Khalifa stunt, to even the India-pandering with Anil Kapoor’s presence; everything about this film now seems like one big gimmick.
That’s not to say that Ghost Protocol doesn’t have its moments. Jeremy Renner breathed a bit of gravitas into proceedings, and Cruise sunk his teeth into the action. But this is the sort of film that couldn’t win an established franchise any new fans.
4. Mission:Impossible III
This is the one film in the franchise that was misjudged when it came out — I was guilty of it myself. But Fallout puts M:I - 3 into perspective in some ways (Any more, and I’d be venturing into spoiler territory).
Ethan Hunt began to look tired by the time the third film came out, and the vague Rabbit’s Foot that Hunt is chasing through the film didn’t inspire any interest. But Philip Seymour Hoffman is magnetic in the film as the villain, and under JJ Abrams the series itself took a turn towards being grittier and edgier. These, combined with what happens in Fallout, make M:I-3 a good film to return to.
3. Mission:Impossible - Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise dangled outside a plane that takes off for the opening sequence of this film, and that set the bar for the rest of it. Benji and Luther came into their own in this one, Rebecca Fergusson’s British double agent Ilsa Faust kicked some serious ass, and the series became self-aware under the stewardship of Christopher McQuarrie.
It upped the humour, upped the action and introduced a new vigour into the world of Ethan Hunt. Rogue Nation is the sort of action film you can keep going back to or pick up any time in the middle while switching channels on TV.
2. Mission:Impossible - Fallout
The latest film in the franchise had me beaming. It has the best action of the series so far, without a doubt. In fact, it’s probably more action-heavy than any other film in the series.
But Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie finally seem to have a grip on a franchise that so far had no defined idea other than the fact that Ethan Hunt is a bit of a nutjob with a flair for the impossible. Now, though, he’s someone you can care about.
Henry Cavill effortlessly increases the production value by his mere presence, and the ecosystem around Hunt step up and make it count. They riff on the fundamental premise of the ‘impossible mission’ while also keeping you on the edge of your seat right to the very end. The latest is the best film in the franchise, bar one.
The first film of the franchise still remains the gold standard in terms of plot — and to think it all boiled down to retrieving one disk. No one knew what to expect of a charming young Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, and the intricate plot wasn’t particularly user-friendly. But that was the joy of it all.
It made you care deeply about that one drop of sweat, and that’s when you knew you had not just a winning film, but a killer franchise. From pens that squirted stuff to eyeglasses that doubled up as a camera, to even that thrilling traintop climax, the first film had it all. Brian DePalma’s M:I was so cool, dark and stylised that to this date even the trailer of the film will thrill you.
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