Summer of Cruise II: A mission so impossible, he did it four times

“I work for an agency. It’s called the IMF.”
“What’s that stand for?”
“Impossible Mission Force.”
“Shut up.”—Ethan Hunt and his wife Julia, Mission: Impossible III

Considering how long Tom Cruise’s movie stardom has lasted, it’s somewhat surprising that he hasn’t been involved in many huge franchises. Unless you count The Color of Money, and I don’t, Cruise did not appear in a sequel until 2000’s Mission: Impossible II. (Sadly, Eyes Wide Shut 2: The Adventure Continues never came to be.) To this day, Mission: Impossible is the only franchise to which Cruise has attached himself, and as a result it may be these films for which he is most known among my generation. It’s also a franchise rather unlike anything else going today. Most modern film series are obsessed with continuity and building worlds over the course of several installments. Outside of a few characters, the Mission: Impossible films have no real interest in such things. All four films are completely different beasts in terms of visual and storytelling style, and yet of the four movies there is only one real stinker of the bunch. The name Mission: Impossible doesn’t mean much more than “Tom Cruise action movie,” and yet it has turned out to be a surprisingly consistent entity. Continue reading