Back in 1996, the very popular “Mission: Impossible” TV series inspired a feature-length film. Like the taut television show, the plot strained credulity. This fifth iteration of the franchise does not so much strain credulity as pulverize it.
Tom Cruise is now in his 20th year as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. At 53, he is still looking good: chiseled abs, nice hair, devil-may-care grin. The film series, on the other hand, has not aged so well. Let’s review:
In “Mission: Impossible I,” Ethan is framed for the murder of his fellow IMF agents during a mission gone terribly wrong. There were gadgets, special effects and acts of wizardry, but entire minutes were set aside for both acting and plot development. Brian De Palma was the director, which is a good thing.
In the next movie, an ex-IMF agent must be stopped before he can steal a deadly virus and sell the antidote to the highest bidder. John Woo directed — not as good but quite respectable.
By the third movie, Ethan Hunt has retired from the IMF and is engaged to be married. But an amoral arms dealer puts an end to both of those undertakings. J.J. Abrams, who directed the terrific new “Star Wars,” directed this one. Better.
Both the directing (Pixar vet Brad Bird) and the plight of Ethan and his gang worsen in the fourth installment: Ethan and the IMF are blamed for bombing the Kremlin. They must act swiftly to prevent a global nuclear war.
You will not be surprised to learn that “M:I 5” opens with the United States Congress disbanding the Impossible Mission Force and turning its mission and agents over to the whining, by-the-book paper-pushers at the CIA. This despite the audacious acts of terror perpetrated by a shadowy, global outfit know as “the Syndicate.” By this point, and under the direction of three-time Cruise-collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, the high-tech gizmos, explosions, knife fights, assassinations and motorcycle chases overwhelm a decidedly sketchy plot. (If you can figure out what’s happening, please give us a call: 667-2576.)
No point in complaining. The franchise has made $2 billion and “M:I 6” starts filming in July. Keep pumping out those movies: from the producer’s perspective (Tom Cruise is the producer) it’s a no brainer.
So’s the storyline.