As ‘Rogue Nation’ burns up the theatrical box office, how does it rate compared to the franchise’s earlier entries? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to vote for the best ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie in today’s poll.
I haven’t seen ‘Rogue Nation’ yet, so I can’t judge that one. Our reviewer Phil didn’t care much for it, but that seems to be a minority opinion (or a minority report, if you will). Most other reaction to it I’ve seen has been pretty positive.
Of the previous four movies, I have trouble choosing between the first one and ‘Ghost Protocol’. During its original release, the 1996 ‘Mission: Impossible’ was often criticized for having a nearly impenetrable plot, but honestly, rewatching it now it’s pretty easy to follow. The silly stuff involving email and internet chatrooms (neither of which remotely resembles the real thing) has dated badly, but Brian De Palma’s action and suspense set-pieces are still marvelously entertaining. Meanwhile, Brad Bird’s ‘Ghost Protocol’ refined and distilled the franchise formula to clockwork perfection. The fourth movie is the most creative and playful, and the most purely fun.
While John Woo’s ‘M:I-2’ is usually considered the red-headed stepchild of this series, I think it’s worth remembering that it was actually the top grossing movie of 2000. It obviously connected really well with audiences at the time. I’ve always enjoyed it for what it is – which is the only American film John Woo has made that approaches the operatic delirium of his earlier Hong Kong work. Its best scenes are a beautifully-staged ballet of bullets, explosions and soaring emotions. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t ever bother pretending that it’s in any way connected to the first film, and the later entries mostly disavow it. Divorced from the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise with a different title, Chow Yun-Fat in the lead and Cantonese-language dialogue, it would probably seem a better movie.
In a lot of ways, J.J. Abrams’ ‘Mission: Impossible III’ (or ‘M:i:III’) was a course correction that steered the franchise back on track and solidified its formula. It’s a necessary film, and a solidly entertaining one, but the girlfriend-in-jeopardy plot is predictable and disappointing, and a couple of the action scenes feel like they were lifted out of James Cameron’s superior ‘True Lies’.
I like all of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies, even the flawed ones, and I look forward to catching ‘Rogue Nation’ as soon as I can.
Vote in the poll for your favorite entry in the franchise, then tell us in the comments how you rank all the others.