‘Mission: Impossible’ Retrospective: Part 2

Welcome back. My mission, that I’ve chosen to accept, is to look at the recent era of the M:I franchise. If you missed it, check out Part 1 of this retrospective.

Amidst growing opinions about Cruise’s personal life and despite the commercial success of Mission: Impossible III, Paramount were reportedly undecided on the future of their spy adventures. With everything quiet on M:I front for a few years, it wasn’t until august of 2009 that the matches considered to be lit once more. Writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec brought on to write the screenplay.

Like Abrams before them, the two writers had cut their teeth in the TV circuit and Ghost Protocol was to be their big break. Funnily enough, Nemec had actually served as a writer prior on Abrams successful show, Alias. With the script in the works, the search for a director was underway. Due to scheduling conflicts, J.J Abrams made it clear that directing would not be an option for him; opting to take a producing position instead alongside Cruise.

March 2010 saw the preliminary talks of bringing The Incredibles director Brad Bird on board. By May of the same year, it was confirmed that Bird would be sitting in the director’s chair. This was to be Bird’s first live action feature; a choice that Bird didn’t take lightly.

This was his chance to flex his already outstanding skill set, in a now well oiled franchise. Consideration towards the direction of the brand itself was in the air, going right down to the “Mission: Impossible” namesake. Discussions were taking place to consider scrapping the established brand name, to be more akin to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Thankfully, it was decided that going into a subtitle phase would be the suitable way forward for Mission: Impossible IP.

Production began on September 29th 2010 and ran all way to March of the following year. Carrying on the globetrotting element of M:I III, locations would include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moscow and Dubai. Most of the crew heading into the production, Cruise in particular, felt that M:I III was a turning point for the franchise in regards to tone and how to combine action with a gripping story. The aim was to continue this approach and give audiences a visceral blockbuster experience. With the director of thrilling stories like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Cruise and Bird were ready to turn the tide.

Fan favourites Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg returned to the cast, while newcomers Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton were brought onto the I.M.F team. It could be seen that Renner was maybe a contingency plan, should Cruise fail to deliver the goods on his fourth outing, in a franchise with an uneasy start. The ball was in Cruise’s court to turn public perception around and give them new contest for exactly why he might be referred to as “crazy” or “insane”. How exactly would do that? Hanging off the side of the tallest building in the world isn’t a bad idea to start with.

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Ghost Protocol would up the ante for the audacity of death defying stunt work. Cruise being the workhorse that he is, was ready again to cheat the reaper on screen. The Burj Khalifa sequence in Ghost Protocol is a stomach churning endurance test for the best of those unafraid of heights. Like the best sequences in the recent entries, this set piece isn’t shoehorned in just for the sake of it. The height induced paranoia is in service of the story.

Bird’s touch and sense in Ghost Protocol has the same air of style and sophistication displayed in The Incredibles. In tandem with the returning Michael Giacchino and Robert Elswitt making the first of two contributions to M: I, Bird oozes an aura that’s closer to Bond but refined rather than copied beat for beat. Of course with bigger action, comes the realisation that M:I retains a license to be sillier if done right. While my soft spot for M:I II remains, it’s more of a Bond shaped ghost than a competitor to Daniel Craig’s grounded character study approach.

Cruise is dialling it all the way. Sandstorms and a descending battle through a multi-level car park see Cruise proving he is the anchor on this ship. No contingency is needed. Mission: Impossible was now your go to vender for blood rushing action.

Filling into cinemas on December 16th 2011, Ghost Protocol became the highest grossing entry in the franchise and Cruise’s biggest grossing film. Critical consensus also offered the installment the highest praise of the series (until Fallout).

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Following previous collaborations and the release of an adaption based around Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novel series, Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise were ready to get back to work again on a project together. Following McQuarie’s uncredited rewrite on Ghost Protocol, Cruise already impressed with Oscar winning McQuarrie’s ideas and was eager for him to helm the next installment of M:I.

Hungry to get back in motion, Paramount announced in August of 2013 that Christopher McQuarrie would be taking on the director’s mantle for the next endeavour. With a story from Iron Man 3 writer Drew Pearce, McQuarrie sank his teeth in concocting the screenplay. Taking cues and inspiration from De Palma’s original outing and admiring the franchise’s growing legacy, McQuarrie decided to bring the story back it’s insider operation roots. After hints of the next installment were left literally in the last seconds of Ghost Protocol, it was the first time that Mission: Impossible were considering having a direct-sequel narrative.

Once again however, Bond was being thrown back into the conversation. As both productions were set to feature narratives about villainous organisations (S.P.E.C.T.R.E and The Syndicate), the topic of which film would come out on top began to dominate itself amongst fans. Was Bond even a threat to Mission: Impossible at this point? Not a chance.

Production began on Rogue Nation on August 20th 2014 and concluded in March of 2015, a week before the official announcement of the title and teaser poster were released. Rogue Nation felt confident from the get go. With the critical affirmation of the franchise in it’s past two entries, Cruise and his team were in business. It was time for Bond to see how far this franchise had come in full force.

How should we start out movie? Cold open? Shadowy objectives via sunglasses? Let’s throw the audience in head first.

The intro sequence of Rogue Nation couldn’t encompass what this franchise is about more if it tried. Ethan’s team are in position. Communication is assertive, panicked but assertive. Where is Cruise though?

Enter the iconic notes of Lalo Schifrin’s theme and the definition of movie star enters the frame. The objective is simple: stop a plane from taking off and secure the payload. Sure? Not in this franchise.

The excitement sets in and we’re off to the races. Cruise mounts the airbus, clinging for dear life, more than ever. The airbus storms into the air and takes Cruise with it, at 5,000 feet in the air. No stunt double.

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The pressure is increasingly mounting both for Cruise and his team. Alas, the objective is secured and we’re strapped into the grin inducing title sequence.

This IS Mission: Impossible in all its glory. Everything you need to know about this series is given you to in an exhilarating injection of adrenaline. From there on, McQuarrie’s direction is assured, composed and almost pitch perfect. I could go on about that Opera sequence for days but I think its already clearer how dynamite that set piece is.

Sean Harris is also a saving grace for the antagonist aspect of these films. Where Ghost Protocol lacked a memorable foe, Rogue Nation rectifies this and gives us the sometimes underused Solomon Lane. With his nasally voice and soul inspecting stare, Sean Harris dominates the role every chance he is given. I can’t explain how claustrophobic I feel when Lane bests Ethan in the record shop.

The sheer terror on Cruise’s face explains it all.

Rogue Nation is an excellent feat for both McQuarrie and the series. Unfortunately, I do feel like the transition from Morocco into the third act is unfocused at times. It was reported in February of 2015 that production was on hold so that Cruise, McQuarrie and an unknown party could reconfigure the third act (specifically the ending). This may explain why Rogue Nation struggles to find its ongoing purpose after the superb beats that have come before it.

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Have I mentioned Alec Baldwin’s speech in the third act? In any other film where the hero is referred to as the “living manifestation of destiny”, I would erupt with laughter. Here, I have a massive grin on my face as you made clearly aware just how bad ass Ethan Hunt has become over the past two decades.

Opening in July of 2015, Rogue Nation would go to make just slightly less than its predecessor, with a box office take of $682.7 million. Just like Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation was another freshly received entry to the franchise that was confidently set to rival Bond’s November outing later in the year.

So now we’ve reached 2018 and this week sees the release of the sixth (sixth!!) installment of Mission: Impossible. In a series first, McQuarrie has returned to deliver his second take on Ethan Hunt’s ongoing tale of defying the impossible. It really is incredible to see a franchise like this still going strong after all this time. Tom Cruise has to be commended for his undying commitment to his endearing goal as an actor: to entertain an audience the best he can.

I have seen Fallout currently three times and you can bet I’ll be catching it a forth. If you want to know what JUMPCUT makes of it, head over to Dave’s review to see his take on McQuarrie’s critical darling.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective of Mission: Impossible.

This article will not self destruct in five seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Mission: Impossible’ Retrospective: Part 1

Written by Sam Comrie

The year is 2003. Action figures and the weekly catch up of Jackie Chan Adventures are the fuel to my young imagination. However, the biggest contributor to fuelling my playground adventures and hours in the garden: Movies. Cut to the summer of ’03 and my brother suggests watching something to help deal with the sweltering heat outside.

Then it happened. As if the orange hue of the cover was radiating from the other side of the living room. The slick black shades protecting a hero engulfed in glowing flames. “Let’s watch Mission: Impossible II” my brother declares.

Cut to present day and Mission: Impossible is still one of my favourite franchises. With the impending release of Fallout looming, I thought it was time to look back at the franchise and its evolution since its 1996 debut.

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Viewed by many as alternative to the long established James Bond franchise, the thrills and splendour of Mission: Impossible offer a taste of pure blockbuster spectacle that is arguably unmatched in the current climate of popcorn cinema. That’s not even a detriment to the franchise, as these films have recognised there is nothing wrong with offering the audience a high octane popcorn experience. Where Mission: Impossible succeeds since finding its feet, is balancing those explosions with a tightly woven plot that gives you prime cuts with the trimmings cut off. However, the future wasn’t always so clear for Cruise’s beloved adventures.

Adapting a popular TV show from the 1960’s is one thing. Bringing in renown Hitchcock enthusiast and auteur Brian De Palma to helm a Cruise vehicle is another. A director applauded for his unique sense of  lust, obsession and voyeuristic looks into questionable acts maybe isn’t the first person that comes to mind when thinking of a Tom Cruise actioner. In retrospective, it was the perfect start.

Containing the first 50 minutes almost exclusively to a soirée and an apartment rigged for intrusion, De Palma focuses his lens on a team that is literally dying in the cold. Now that the blood is washed on Cruise’s hands, its time to get even.

It would be a crime if I didn’t mention THAT iconic sequence. Yes, the CIA heist is an all timer sequence that showed us the first inklings of how this franchise could offer tension mission from mainstream blockbusters. Every time Jean Reno drops his knife from that laser sealed vent, my heart will still skip a beat without fail.

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With a new franchise coming out of the rough, it’s not a surprise that a ropey journey behind the scenes was reported. Entering the production with barely anything on a page, it was up in the air whether De Palma’s foray into star vehicles would work. The original TV show cast lauded the movie for it’s treatment of their characters, especially Jim Phelps (portrayed by Jon Voight). The script was ripped apart and some of the cast reportedly walked out of their private screening.

All the chips were down leading up to release day.

Mission: Impossible was released in May of 1996, to considerably mixed reviews, aimed mostly at its convoluted plot. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop them dead in their tracks. Going on to spawn $457.7 million in it’s box office run, it was clear that there was audience interest in the clandestine panorama of espionage that was Mission: Impossible.

There was room to improve, to refine and tweak what Mission: Impossible could aspire to be as the growing ideal of what mainstream action cinema should be.

Back to the slick sunglasses. De Palma passed on the opportunity to return and Tom Cruise knew exactly where he wanted to find his next director. He found that director in heroic bloodshed legend and pioneer, John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer, A Better Tomorrow)

Woo had left his mark on the Hong Kong action scene and had made his move into the Hollywood market with freedom with his 1997 cult classic, Face/Off. Cruise was clearly impressed with Woo’s CV and approached Paramount to get Mission: Impossible II off the ground. Before the cameras even began rolling, there was already a spy making waves once more in cinemas. Pierce Brosnan was riding high on the success of his James Bond entries in 1995 and 1997, releasing another in 1999 (a whole year before Mission: Impossible II was released into the world).

When Goldeneye impressed Bond fans and audiences alike in 1995 before the first M:I exploded onto screens, it was clear that a new era of Bond was in motion to ward off competitors. Woo and the production combo of Cruise / Wagner were determined to show audiences that Ethan Hunt was here to stay. Production began in April of 1999 and concluded in December of the same year. It was rumoured that Woo’s initial cut was around three and a half hours; way over the studio mandate.

With this cut trimmed down to just over two hours, Mission: Impossible II was John Woo’s action sandbox, with Cruise as his player one. Doves included. This was also the instalment to light the fuse on Cruise’s desire to risk his life onscreen for our entertainment. As it has become clear over the years, Cruise is now a versatile jack of all trades when it comes stunt work.

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Originally the vertigo inducing reintroduction of Ethan was supposed to be handled by qualified professionals; but Cruise picked up the required skillsets to handle the sequence himself with minimal stunt double insert shots. This was all Paramount needed to push the marketing campaign. Ethan Hunt wasn’t just coming back; he was literally ascending back into frame.

Looking back on Mission: Impossible II all these years later, it really does appear to me as the estranged entry. Trading a paranoid undercover operative for a suave playboy spy is an almost startling concept transitioning into the second film. Cruise discards most shreds of humanity for a persona of wit, brawn and machoism. It’s evident that the success of a new Bond was looming over the production and its influence was bleeding into the celluloid.

I would go as far to say that Mission: Impossible II is much more of an embodiment of a “standalone” entry, that a continuation of the themes or ideas presented prior. Even with Bond’s shadow over the production, that isn’t to say that Woo didn’t present audiences with a blockbuster devoid of any identity. Mission: Impossible II is first and foremost a JOHN WOO production. Every Woo-ism you’ve come to expect is on show, with an extra dose of slow motion to drink it all down with.

The second half is where Woo really gets to shine. Gorgeous wide shots decorate grin inducing action sequences, while Hans Zimmer’s score soars over the bullets. Crash zooms make an appearance, most notably in the excellent compound sabotage sequence in the third act, as flames reflect terror in Dougray Scott’s iris.

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Unfortunately, Woo’s stylistic prowess wasn’t enough to overcome Paramount’s trimming to make a more commercially viable summer package. Upon its release in July of 2000, again amongst varied responses, audiences made it clear that Cruise’s espionage escapades were making an impression on them.

Bringing back $565,400,000 and claiming the “highest grossing film of 2000” top spot, the doors were open for Ethan Hunt’s next mission.

Fast forward six years and an absence of Ethan Hunt. Cruise would go to star in Michael Mann’s thriller Collateral, two Spielberg productions and another Cameron Crowe experiment in the time before another Mission film was on the table. Various directors would come on board to helm the third entry, including David Fincher and cast members Scarlett Johansson, Carrie-Anne Moss and Kenneth Branagh in the mix. After Joe Carnahan left in July of 2004, the directors seat was up in the air once more. Johansson, Moss and Branagh would leave due to the continuing production delays. Cruise would happen to come across a saving grace in his spare time.

With his experience primarily in the TV circuit from Alias and the beginnings of Lost making an impression, J.J Abrams was recruited personally by Cruise to make feature film debut with Mission: Impossible III. June 8th of 2005 saw Paramount Pictures green light the production with a fresh cast on board. It was time to light the fuse once more. Just a month later and cameras would start rolling on July 12th.

Mission: Impossible III would be the first instalment to add a globetrotting element to the franchise, with locations such as Shanghai, Berlin and Rome displaying a renewed sense of exploration in Ethan Hunt’s race against the clock. Gone were the affectations of Bond and a new adrenaline filled formula was injected directly into the heart of the action. Sharper cuts and spiralling Steadicam shots made sure we were packed tightly into the frame, avoiding the aftermath of spies doing what they do best. Dan Mindel makes the frame pop with vibrancy and texture.

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With the advent of Jason Bourne in the market and a new dawn of how action was been perceived, it’s clear that the team on M:I III were already retrofitting new trends for their own gain. Out of all the instalments, M:I III is a whirlwind when its come to set pieces. From the head daze of the Berlin extraction or the militant precision of the bridge battle, these set pieces were paving the way for this franchise to realize its true potential. It wasn’t just the spectacle that was getting a makeover either.

What happens when a spy goes home? Do they even have a home to go back to? Abrams decided to explore just that, as we finally get to know what makes Ethan tick behind all the rubber masks. While the stakes maybe aren’t as potent as the film has aged, the risk of taking time to slow it down to mundane aspects of normal life are commendable for a franchise that was still assuming an identity.

Thankfully, an identity is exactly what was gained. Mission: Impossible finally knew what it could be = succinct espionage beats and awe inspiring set pieces. No facades of Bond or any other IP in the mix. What is a hero’s journey without a villain though?

While Jon Voight was serviceable and Dougray Scott was somewhat more impressionable (probably down to his method of nail clipping), the M:I films were still waiting for a villain to leave a mark. Enter the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Leaving someone else’s mouth, the dialog for Owen Davian would have fell flat without a doubt. When that cold open introduces us to an unfamiliar scenario of Ethan in peril and Hoffman’s cold gaze dominating the frame, you know it’s time to buckle in.

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The pieces were in place to solidify a turning point where Ethan Hunt was ready to be a household name in the spy business.

Mission: Impossible III dropped into cinemas in May of 2006, becoming another commercial success. Despite making less than its predecessor ($397.8 million), the new era of M: I was a critical success that garnered much more favourable reviews than what had come before. Cruise and co. weren’t out of matches yet.

‘Mission: Impossible’ Retrospective: Part 2

Coming Soon! 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Year: 2018
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan

Written by Dave Curtis

I like to imagine it is fun being in meetings when coming up with ideas for the next ‘Mission Impossible’ film. Tom Cruise sits quietly in the corner staring out the window. The director and writer, Christopher McQuarrie, paces around behind him.

CM: Right Tom, with ‘MI:5’ we hung you off the side of plane?
TC: That was fun, I love planes!
CM: We tried to drown you already didn’t we?
TC: That was easy, I can hold my breath for ages.
CM: How are you with heights, maybe we have you hanging off a tall building?
TC: Seriously, Did you not watch Ghost Protocol? I was on top of the highest building in the world!
[Chris scratches his head….]
CM: So what I’m hearing is that you want to go higher.
[Chris joints down higher on a pad on paper. ]
[Tom spins around on his chair and jumps on it.]
TC: Not only do I want to go higher, I want it be fucking crazy. How about you throw me out of a  plane this time?
CM: Like on green screen or something. I don’t think the producers would like us to drop you from the sky?
TC: Tom Cruise doesn’t fake action… he is action!
CM: Have you ever skydived before?
TC: Please. How hard can it be, I’ll just learn how to –
CM: OK!
[Chris writes down skydive.]
TC: I’m also learning to fly a helicopter at the mo so maybe we can do something with that?
CM: Sure…
[He writes down helicopter.]
CM: Anything else?
TC: I really like Paris.
[Chris writes Paris down.]
CM: Well this already sounds great TC we’ve done it again!

[Chris and Tom high five.]
** End scene.**

‘Mission Impossible – Fallout’ is insane…

The franchise so far has come be to known for its big set pieces and the chance to watch Tom Cruise run, jump, shoot, drive, climb and nearly kill himself in increasingly dangerous situations. As IMF’s best spy, Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise is still trying to save the world the only way he knows how. He pretty much makes it up and hopes for the best. It seems he is a very lucky man.

The returning director and writer Christopher McQuarrie (the first director to return to the franchise) brings back all the familiar faces – Simon Pegg, Ving Rhymes and Alec Baldwin (No Jeremy Renner, he was busy on another small film). This is also a direct of sorts sequel to ‘Rogue Nation’ (‘Mission: Impossible 5’) so Rebecca Ferguson as the mysterious Ilsa Faust and Sean Harris as the villain Solomon Lane return.

As ever the IMF team are on race against time and somewhere a clock is ticking. Hunt and team are trying to locate the remaining members of the ‘Syndicate’, who now call themselves the ‘Apostles’. He isn’t sleeping well, thoughts of Solomon Lane fill his dreams. Maybe his past is catching up with him. Lane wants Ethan to see the world he protected for so long be destroyed and lose what he loves the most.  This isn’t the Ethan Hunt of old, he is a man on the edge who seems to carry more weight on his shoulders. He is at breaking point. Lane himself, the movies MacGuffin (like the rabbit foot in ‘MI:3’), is a villain of few words and seems to be pulling strings even when behind bars. Sean Harris brings his normal intensity to role. He is even given some action scenes, but he does still feels a bit under-cooked and not as interesting as the film wants to you to believe.

The IMF crew also have Henry Cavill’s CIA agent August Walker (great name) joining them for company. Walker is a black ops assassin who is assigned to get the job done by any means necessary, whether Hunt likes it or not. Their mission, if they chose to accept it, is to retrieve some black market plutonium and stop Solomon Lanes master plan. What Cavill lacks in personality he makes up in sheer physical presence. The fight scenes feel brutal and Walker’s more heavy handed approach to Hunts more delicate touch makes for bone breaking and more believable fights. The stand out fight is the bathroom scene, it’s up there with ‘True Lies’. Cavill looks like he is enjoying playing a more questionable character and his moustache is there and accounted for, no CGI needed there.

Other new additions to the franchise such as Vanessa Kirby’s White Widow and Angela Bassett’s head of  CIA, Erica Sloan, slot in nicely. Kirby’s underworld broker shines. She is not in it much but she steals every scene. Bassett’s head edge manner also brings Erica Sloan to life, this is not a woman to cross. She’s badass to the bone. What was once a man’s franchise brimmed to the rim of testosterone, ‘Fallout’ is so refreshing. Rebecca Ferguson’s MI6 agent Ilsa Faust once again nearly steals the film from everyone. She is still a match for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Gone are the lingering shots of her legs. This time it’s all about her and the mission.

To be honest the ‘Mission Impossible’ films have never really been about plots and characters. It’s all about the big set pieces, the unbelievable stunt work and Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. The plot does just about make sense, but the film really comes alive when Tom Cruise is doing some kind of death defying stunt. There are car and bike chases through the tight streets of Paris, the halo skydive (which Cruise trained a year for), crazy rooftops chases (that’s where he broke his ankle) and a helicopter pursuit which needs to be seen to be believed. Why does he do all this? It’s because he loves to entertain. He knows the audience want to see him in these situations. I also think he enjoys it. It seems Christopher McQuarrie and him enjoy pushing each other and seeing how far they can take it.

Not only is ‘Fallout’ fun to watch, it is also technically brilliant. From the score to the cinematography and the stunt work, it’s amazing to think about the hours of hard work the crew have had to put in to make a movie like this. They are the real MVP’s. I salute them.

‘Mission Impossible – Fallout’ is hugely entertaining. It is a proper popcorn flick which only has a few minor flaws. To think this franchise has been going for 22 years and it still feels this fresh and new is a testament to the director and star. I can’t imagine what they have in store for Mission Impossible 7.  Surely only outer space beckons now.

Dave’s Rating:

4

New ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Featurette Showcases Cruise’s ‘Most Dangerous Stunt Yet’

With each passing ‘Mission Impossible’ film there’s always one question on fans minds… What the hell is Tom Cruise going to do in the next one to top it!?

We’ve witnessed Cruise versus 16 tons of water as he blows the glass on a fish tank and quickly has to escape, free climbing Dead Horse Point, scaling the Burj Khalifa, base jumping, clinging on the to side of an aeroplane as it takes off, holding his breath for 6 minutes underwater, almost taking a knife to the eye… you name it, Cruise has probably done it!

But, even after his aeroplane stunt in ‘Rogue Nation’, Cruise still promised he would out-do himself, as he always somehow manages to do. From what we’ve seen so far in teasers and trailers, Cruise has upped the ante once again as he clings from a rope on a helicopter in mid-air, climbs up said helicopter to then fly it, leaping from buildings (and consequently breaking his ankle!) and of course, the Halo jump!

Whilst we eagerly await the films release, Paramount have released a featurette for the Halo jump, which showcases how the cast and crew trained and shot the scene that will have no doubt kept McQuarrie up at night!

“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team along with some familiar allies in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm.”

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Wes Bentley, Frederick Schmidt

Release Date: July 25th, 2018

Ethan Hunt Is On The Run In The Final ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Trailer

“The best intentions often come back to haunt you. “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT” finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies,  in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. “

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monoghan, Angela Bassett

Release Date: July 27th, 2018

The Mummy

Year: 2017
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

18 years after Brendan Fraser’s ‘The Mummy’ surprised us all by actually being good and fun, we have a re-imagining of ‘The Mummy’ as the first instalment of Universal’s planned Dark Universe. Dark Universe is meant to be a shared cinematic universe (how many of those have come and gone since Marvel near perfected the formula?) of some of cinema’s most iconic monsters, including The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is a lot of star power behind this incoming franchise, led by Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. On paper, the conceit could be a fun one, but frankly, after ‘The Mummy’, the Dark Universe is already off to a rocky start.

When an ancient tomb and sarcophagus is discovered long-buried under Iraq, our heroes Nick Morton (Cruise) and Jennifer Halsey (Wallis) are tasked with transporting the sarcophagus to London for investigation and analysis. En route, disaster strikes as the contents of the sarcophagus, an Ancient Egyptian princess by the name of Princess Ahmanet (Boutella), is awoken and hell-bent on taking Earth for her own. Beyond that, we have a search for a MacGuffin or two, and a meeting with a mysterious figure (Crowe) who knows all too much about Ahmanet and her quest for world destruction.

For my money, despite its fairly damning reviews since its release, I didn’t find ‘The Mummy’ to be wholly without merit. Tom Cruise has, deservedly, earned himself the title of Hollywood’s go-to movie star, and he does everything he can to sell this film. Cruise is evidently having a lot of fun as he does Tom Cruise things. Whether it’s rolling around a plummeting plane, swimming away from swimming mummies (you heard), or legging it from an incoming giant face-made-of-sand in the middle of London, ‘The Mummy’ hits all the beats of your typical Tom Cruise film. Ultimately, the film is almost astoundingly generic, but when it’s “Tom Cruise generic”, you know you’re in for an entertaining time at least.

The film is also surprisingly funny in parts, using physical comedy and occasionally embracing the ridiculousness of the film. Sadly though, these funny parts are in direct contrast to much of the action on screen, which is where ‘The Mummy’ begins to unravel. Hold your applause.

‘The Mummy’ is tonally all over the place. The film regularly jumps from mysterious, Nathan Drake style tomb investigation to a scene from a horror film to the characters having friendly banter in a pub. One of the lead characters meets an untimely end in the first third of the film and their death is treated as something of a joke after the character who killed them accidentally fires a third shot. ‘The Mummy’ is a film that doesn’t entirely know what it wants to be. It even earned a 15-rating in the UK for sustained threat, but it never fully utilised its rating. In a film primarily linked to a horror character, you want more than the occasional jump scare, only a few of which are actually effective.

The key problem with ‘The Mummy’ is it tries to do too much in one film. It tries so hard to set up its own cinematic universe after so confidently opening the film with a Dark Universe title card that it forgets some of the fundamentals of making a good film.

Now, setting up the Dark Universe wasn’t entirely unsuccessful as I found a mid-point scene involving Crowe and Cruise the highlight of the film. Crowe’s, without giving too much away, alternate ego is a hugely entertaining 5 minutes that above all showed Crowe having fun. Crowe is handed an incredibly exposition-filled role as he explains to Morton and Halsey what exactly Ahmanet is and what she wants, and it’s nice to see him get a satisfying moment in the spotlight.

Where the writers (5 of them! Yes, 5!) and director Alex Kurtzman fell-short was convincing us ‘The Mummy’ was a film that could work on its own. It doesn’t commit to its characters enough as no one beyond Cruise, Crowe, and Boutella even register as anyone of interest (I found Wallis to be particularly poor in all honesty). There is no real through-line from where the film begins to where the film ends; it’s more a collection of 5 or 6 initially unconnected action set-pieces (though mostly entertaining) woven together through thinly plotted dialogue scenes.

I couldn’t shake the feeling as the film ended that what I watched was, ultimately, pointless. The film itself will leave no lasting impression beyond setting up the Dark Universe, should this even carry on after the critical mauling ‘The Mummy’ has received. I found myself mostly entertained for the majority of its run-time, but I can assure you that the 2017 reboot of ‘The Mummy’ will not leave the same lasting impression the 1999 version of ‘The Mummy’ had. Wherefore art thou, Brendan Fraser?

Rhys’ rating: 4.7 out of 10

Tom Cruise Takes To The Sky As Barry Seal in ‘American Made’

Tom Cruise takes to the sky once again, but this time he’s portraying Barry Seal in the true story of how a pilot was recruited by the CIA and found himself smuggling for Pablo Escobar. 

In classic Cruise fashion, the trailer promises some impressive stunts and practical effects, alongside an absolute bonkers story that I am very intrigued to learn about. 

“In Universal Pictures’ ‘American Made’, Tom Cruise reunites with his ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ director, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), in this international escapade based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.

Based on a true story, ‘American Made’ co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones and Jayma Mays.”

‘American Made’ flies into UK cinemas 17th August

Universal’s Monster Universe Officially Named ‘Dark Universe’ With ‘Bride Of Frankenstein’ Following ‘The Mummy’

We knew Universal planned to kick start a new ‘Monster Universe’ with the upcoming ‘The Mummy’ reboot, well now it officially has a name, ‘Dark Universe’. 

This new name was announced via a tweet from a new Twitter account, which had the following video attached. In this video there are clips from some classic monster movies, including ‘Dracula’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, ‘The Wolfman’, and ‘The Mummy’. These films are more than likely what we can expect to be rebooted for this new ‘Dark Universe’

Supporting this theory is the new announcement that ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ will be the second film of this universe, and it currently has a Valentines Day 2019 release date. Bill Condon, whose most recent film was Disney’s live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’, is set to direct. 

Javier Bardem has been cast as Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Depp will be the Invisible Man! More casting announcements likely to come following this news! 

Princess Ahmanet Wreaks Havoc In The New Trailer For The Mummy

Universal have released a brand new trailer for the upcoming reboot of ‘The Mummy’ and someone definitely woke up on the wrong side of, the er, tomb. This new trailer gives us a greater insight into who Princess Ahmanet was and why she’s now wreaking havoc.  It also appears she’s the reason why Tom Cruise’s character, Nick Morton, wakes up in a body bag after being found dead after a plane crash. 

Sofia Boutella is the Mummy at large, and joining her and Cruise in this film Universal hopes kick starts their ‘Monsters Universe’ are Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, and Russel Crowe, who is playing Dr. Henry Jekyll and is likely to be a key character to link the future films. 

The first trailer didn’t give too much away, and I wasn’t really sold on this reboot. However, now we know more about Ahmanet and her plan, and had a better look at the visuals in the film, I’m actually quite excited to see this reboot. Love him or hate him, Cruise always put 110% into his films and the stunts he performs and no doubt he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve for this film to surprise us. 


“Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension. From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”

Written by Tom Sheffield