How Auteur Directors Have Kept the 'Mission: Impossible' Franchise Firing On All Cylinders
It's rare that a franchise goes on to make even better films in later sequels, but that seems to be happening with Mission: Impossible.
It's even rarer when that franchise has reached its fifth film, and reviews are positive, which is what we're seeing with the release of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (if you haven't seen our interview with the editor of the newest film, Eddie Hamilton, we just released Part 2, and you can find Part 1 here). Instead of hiring the cheapest and newest talent possible — who could then be somewhat easily controlled by the studio — the franchise has instead looked for directors to provide their own signature style to the series. They've gone from Brian De Palma, to John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and now to Christopher McQuarrie, and in the process have shown that letting experienced directors do their own thing can actually be productive.
Sean Witzke recently broke down all of these directors and their influences in a new video essay:
Over at Grantland, Sean is asked some great questions, including how the character of Ethan Hunt has changed over the films:
Obviously the directors change in these films, but does the character of Ethan Hunt change? It’s interesting how he’s a bit of Bond — resetting in every film — and a bit of John McClane — someone with a serialized biography.
I don’t think there’s much carried over from film to film, until Abrams started working on them. In III and IV, he’s the same character. What’s interesting to me is that these are the films that saw Cruise turn himself into a franchise. The movies are all snapshots of how he wants to present himself. I think the character in the first two is what’s needed for the film — Bond-style — and then III and Ghost Protocol, you start to get the shape of a person’s life.
It's certainly an interesting take on a franchise rebooted from a 60s TV show, and we are supposedly not going to have to wait too long for the next film, which could shoot as early as next year.