There are three types of spy films.
First off, we have the James Bond spy – macho, guns blazing and irresistible to any woman he meets. Then there is the Johnny English spy – comical and idiotic at times, yet still able to carry out intricate missions and save the world. Finally, there is the Ethan Hunt spy – not so much brawn as he is brains, his movies are all about disguises and cleverly conceived mind games.
The original Mission Impossible film gave us a type of spy we had not yet seen on the big screen. These films gave us death-defying stunts, mind twisting plots and a hero with the depth and history that we lack in examples like James Bond. Mission Impossible also offers us a better insight into what audiences would like to believe true espionage is like, rather than a Bond who everyone always seems to know.
Tom Cruise has always been at the heart of the series, which was a paradox from the very start. Not only had he never held a gun in a role before, but he had also never made a sequel before MI:2, previously turning down opportunities such as a second Top Gun.
Film series that have built their franchises on a single leading name, such as Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean, are becoming few and far between. New franchises like Marvel’s Avengers, Star Wars and the Fast and Furious series are increasingly convincing filmgoers to come along for a brand that’s been built up around several different films. But it’s hard to separate the image of Mission Impossible and Tom Cruise anymore – as soon as you hear that catchy tune he’s instantly on your mind.
And far be it from me to say that it’s not working – because it is. As a general rule of thumb, sequels never tend to be better than the original. There are exceptions, of course – Monster’s University and Empire Strikes Back are key examples – but it’s very hard to pull off. Now here we are on the sixth instalment of the Mission Impossible series, and I’m hitting the buzzer and saying this is by far the best of the lot.
It is the absolute epitome of the spy-action genre, boasting everything you could want and expect from a Mission Impossible film. However, this doesn’t make it predictable or boring. If anything, knowing you’re going to be mentally challenged by the plot, thrilled by the action and in awe of the stunts makes it all worth the while when it delivers ten-fold. Not to mention, it has also received the highest amount of critical praise for any Mission Impossible film.
The film has everything – there are car chases, fist fights, rooftop races and a helicopter pursuit set against stunning scenery. As well as softer bonding scenes between long-standing franchise characters, who also happen to be defusing a bomb… but also delivers the seat-gripping moment of ‘will they actually be able to stop the villain this time’.
My only hint of criticism is that it missed out on a chance to delve into Ethan Hunt’s darker side, questioning what might happen if he didn’t choose to accept any more missions from a country and an agency that time after time has turned its back on him. But then, it wouldn’t have had the same impact it did, so I guess I can let it go this time.
Verdict: This film embodies not only the prefect action film, but also the true heart of the Mission Impossible series. Insane stunts, quirky dialogue and clever writing ensure it is another heart-stopping cinema experience for those looking to face the impossible.