Revisiting the Impossible, parts 1 and 3

mi123The genre masterpiece of “Fallout”, the latest entry in the “Mission: Impossible” series, made me want to revisit the whole series and give it a fresh look after years, in some cases more than a decade. Well, not “whole”, because come on, “M:I-2”, but here’s what the movies are from my 2018 perspective:

“Mission: Impossible” (1996), dir. Brian de Palma

Ah, do you remember the computers in 1996 making so many bleeps and bloops? Do you remember the early Internet where you entered “job”, one of the 1000 most often used words in English, into the Usenet search box and got zero results? (While we’re on that, remember Usenet???) Do you remember when you sent an email and you saw a pretty animation of a posted envelope sent to an address that contained colons and spaces but no dots?

Well, it certainly has aged, this movie… It’s still a lot of fun, I still have a lot of nostalgia for it, I still remember loving it so much as to put it among my five favorite movies of all time (it was 1997), but years, nay, decades have passed. I’m different, the world’s different, cinema’s different. This was a response to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond after all, and now we’re in post-Bourne era.

I still admire it for starting an embarassing at times, but gripping at many others spy franchise that holds its ground against all the Bonds and Bournes of the world, but also for being just a good – if dated – movie that fueled my imagination for long years to follow…

“Mission: Impossible 2” (2000), dir. John Woo

Haha, no, I’m not gonna watch this one again, it already stole too much of my time. The furthest I went was watching the – also just released, coincidentally – Nostalgia Critic’s review. Although this as well is quite unremarkable. I guess the rumours are true – Doug Walker did lose a lot of his edge in the last years…

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006), dir. J.J. Abrams

Six long years after the embarassment of second movie in the series another one came, brought to me by none other than J.J. Abrams, the same guy who started a six years long mystery of a magical island in one of my favorite series of all time (that I will keep defending to my dying breath) with a two hours long pilot that changed TV forever.

And everything that made the “Lost” pilot so memorable, so different, so gut-wrenching, was the J.J. Abrams intense signature that he brought to the franchise that two previous directors had brought their trademarks to (a solid thriller and white doves, respectively) before. In these 12 years since I saw it before – just that one time, in cinema – I vividly remembered not necessarily the imagery, as this was still before the staple of this series were Cruise’s admittedly amazing stunts (that is, they were there, but not at the forefront), but the emotions and the intensity. The plot is all about a macguffin, and up to and including its closing lines it doesn’t even pretend to be otherwise. Because truly, this movie is about people. About Ethan Hunt, the spy with a heart of gold that he grew up to be as the franchise continued, his adorable wife Julia, his trusted compations (always present Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg, whom I completely forgot was in this movie and thought he only joined the series a movie later) and Philip Seymour Hoffman, an amazing actor of uncountable unforgettable performances here raising to the absolute mastery of maliciousness.

Intensity right from the start (the shaky cam of the blood-freezing scene before the short and to-the-point opening credits) through a set piece after set piece (but still with some breathing space in the right places) until the up close and personal ending – if the subtitles didn’t start with “Ghost Protocol”, the next movie in the franchise, this one would be just that: “Mission: Impossible – This Time It’s Personal”.

Parts 4 and 5, “Ghost Protocol” and “Rogue Nation”, are to follow. You can read these and other reviews on my Letterboxd profile.

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