Mission: Impossible — Why it's the right time for Tom Cruise to wrap up franchise with two consecutive sequels
There is no global geopolitical strife from the last two decades left that Tom Cruise has not explored in the Mission: Impossible universe.
Even though it is a known fact that all good things come to an end, sometimes it is also about how things end. Perhaps this could be the emotion on the minds of Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie who have announced that the next two sequels in the Mission: Impossible series would be filmed simultaneously. Slated to release in the summer of 2021 and 2022, the chances of this being the finale for Ethan Hunt, the character immortalised by Cruise, as the star would be 59 and 60 when the films hit the silver screen.
Usually a Mission: Impossible film takes about two to three years from announcement to arrival and the decision to shoot two films at the same time reduces the interval, which works in favour Cruise as he is already on the wrong side of 50. In January 2018, the news of Cruise breaking his ankle during the filming of Mission: Impossible — Fallout in London made the headlines. Since 1996, when Cruise first played Hunt in the Brain De Palma-directed Mission: Impossible, the franchise has become synonymous with the star and has also come to be known as one of his most enduring legacies. Cruise had never been an action star even though he did films such as Top Gun (1986) and Far and Away (1992). But once he featured in the film based on the iconic television series, his fortunes changed. In the last two decades, Cruise has gone back to a Mission: Impossible film with great regularity and thanks to six films in 20 years, which amounts to one film every three years, Cruise has managed to remain amongst the most successful movie stars ever.
One of the reasons why actor or filmmakers insist on shooting sequels or series at the same time is to maintain freshness or economies of scale. It is this aspect that made Peter Jackson’s decision to film the Lord of the Rings trilogy simultaneously stand out. But there have also been instances when movies shot back-to-back indicate the end of the line. Back to the Future II and Back to the Future III were shot together as were the last in the Hunger Games and Harry Potter franchises. Also, in the recent past, both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were shot at the same time.
For a while now, Cruise has been turning to action films in order to prolong his traditional leading man roles. A look at Cruise’s filmography reveals how he has opted to feature more in action/ thriller roles rather than drama or comedies. Since 2010, he has done three Mission: Impossible films, two Jack Reacher films, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, The Mummy and American Made. Before the next Mission: Impossible film, he would be seen in the sequel to Top Gun, and McQuarrie has also hinted at an Edge of Tomorrow sequel.
Cruise was one of the few mainstream superstars who tried to experiment with roles every now and then, but the days of him doing an Eyes Wide Shut (1999) or featuring in a Paul Thomas Anderson film such as Magnolia (1999), where he specifically asked the filmmaker to think of something for him, are long gone. In fact, an extended cameo like the one he had in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder (2008) or a deviation from what was usually expected of him when he featured alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Lions for Lambs (2007) are rare to come by. The more one thinks about it, the more one gets convinced that Cruise would be playing Ethan Hunt to rest in a big way; and therefore the back-to-back Mission: Impossible films. The world that led to the rise to the TV series in the 1960s, and later the film franchise is long gone. There is no global geopolitical strife from the last two decades left that Cruise has not explored in the Mission: Impossible universe and who knows, new-age problems need a new kind of Ethan Hunt.
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