Overview of the Mission: Impossible Franchise (Part 1 of 5)

M: I

by Jason Callen

Having recently seen Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, I decided to go back and rewatch the rest of the films. Here’s my take on the series…

Mission: Impossible
Ethan Hunt’s first appearance on the disavowed list is still the best. Director Brian De Palma was the perfect choice for this Hitchcockian thriller, having been associated with them most of his career. A complex but comprehensible screenplay from David Koepp and Robert Towne (story by Koepp and Steve Zaillian) keeps the audience guessing the during a first watch and reveals its cleverness and De Palma’s mastery of the genre on repeated viewings. While the stunts and set pieces use more FX trickery than future installments do, they are just as exciting and, more importantly, hold up very well. In fact this entire movie holds up extremely well, even foreshadowing bigger set pieces that would take place in later films.

What the film doesn’t do is prepare us for the drastic shift in tone and style that would be coming with the second film in the franchise four years later. Set up as a spy movie franchise, it was a shock to many viewers to see a more straight forward action film as the next installment. While it’s commendable that a major Hollywood franchise would actively seek out new directors for each installment, it does create a greater risk of losing the audience that you’ve created with the first film. A risk that unfortunately doesn’t pay off for M: I 2.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 5.