Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher movie premiere in 2012.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Ethan “Hunts” down “The Entity”
By Samuel Cheng
Published 12:59 PDT, Fri September 29, 2023
The Mission: Impossible series, a household name in the spy and action movie genre. With its newest release, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One premiered on July 12, 2023, the decades long series is back yet again with another breathtaking and thrilling adventure.
The first ever Mission: Impossible film was released on May 22, 1996. It starred Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, who remained as the heart and soul throughout the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Ethan Hunt was part of the Mission: Impossible Force, or IMF for short. The IMF is a multinational espionage that works closely but not for the government of the United States. They are often deployed and sent out to complete missions that are seemingly sought as “impossible”. However, through time and time again, Hunt has proven the doubters wrong.
Needless to say, the Mission: Impossible series is filled with astonishing stunts, all of which are performed by the man himself, Tom Cruise.
From free climbing the canyon without a safety harness, hanging off the side of a plane to climbing the world’s tallest building, Cruise has done them all. Not to mention the countless times that the actor has jumped out of a highspeed vehicle, planes, and helicopters like it’s a piece of cake.
The risks associated with each of these stunts are off the charts. The risks are so high to the point that some of the insurance companies have denied to insure Cruise for his dare devil acts. Sometimes, the audiences are left wondering, are there any stunts that Cruise cannot do?
There are currently seven movies in the Impossible: Mission series, with the eighth one in the making. The Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two is scheduled to be released on June 28, 2024.
The first of the series, Mission: Impossible, released in 1996, was about Hunt being framed for selling top government secrets to an arms dealer nicknamed “Max”. To clear his name, it was up to Hunt to track down and put the criminal behind bars. The film was met with an incredible commercial success, bringing in $457.7 million with a budget of merely $80 million. It was one of the movies that solidified Cruise’s place in the movie world today.
With the huge success of Mission: Impossible, you may have thought that the production would be rushing to release a follow-up film while the iron is still hot. However, the reality was that the second movie was not released until four years later.
Mission: Impossible 2 starred Thandiwe Newton as Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief who works together with Hunt to apprehend an ex-IMF member that had gone rogue. Sean Ambrose, played Dougray Scott, was the antagonist in the film who stole a deadly virus to sell to the highest bidder. The iconic rock climbing Dead Horse Point scene without any safety cables or harnesses was featured in the second film of the series.
It is worth mentioning that it was in this movie that one of the elements of the franchise was introduced. It is all thanks to the world-renowned director, John Woo, who brought the signature face masks and face change into play. It has since then remained an integral part of the series until today. Woo was also the director of other top selling films including Face/Off (1997), A Better Tomorrow (1986), The Killer (1989) and many more.
2006 marks the release of Mission: Impossible III. In this film, Hunt is faced by Owen Davian, an arms and information broker who attempts to sell a mysterious object named “The Rabbit’s Foot”. It was also in this film that Hunt was engaged to Julia Meade, starring Michelle Monaghan, who is clueless about the actual job description of Hunt’s line of work. Later on, Meade’s death was faked in order to protect her and to keep her safe.
When ranking the most impressive and daring stunts ever performed throughout the series, most votes would have gone to the climbing of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai; the world’s tallest building today. The stunt was captured in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol released in 2011. Many considered the Ghost Protocol as the turning point of the franchise, elevating the series up from a “good” action movie to a “specular” movie franchise.
As Ethan Hunt became better and better at apprehending criminals from around the world, his enemies have upped their game as well. In the fifth film of the series, Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation, Hunt was faced with an organization called the Syndicate, an international group of terrorists that recruited agents and government operatives from around the world to commit various crimes. It was in this film that Cruise performed yet another breathtaking stunt of hanging off the side of an Airbus A400M airplane as it took off from the runway.
Without keeping the fans waiting for too long, the fifth film of the series Mission: Impossible – Fallout was introduced three years later in 2018, the shortest it has ever been since inception. With the mission to recover plutonium from the hands of the Apostles, Hunt decided to take matters into his own hands as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was beginning to question his loyalty.
Fast forward to 2023, with the release of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, it marks the seventh film of the series. To date, the franchise has raked in a total of $4.13 billion dollars across all seven films, ranking seventeenth in the highest-grossing movie franchises of all time.
It has been speculated that the Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two would mark farewell for the character Ethan Hunt. However, director and story writer Christopher McQuarrie has come forward to hint that there may very well be more Mission Impossible movies to come.
To further justify the validity of McQuarrie’s statements, Cruise has also mentioned that he would love to continue making Mission: Impossible movies for as long as possible. Inspired by movie star legend Harrison Ford, Cruise hopes to continue until he is 80 years old.
Go check out the newest Mission: Impossible movies if you haven’t already seen it in the theatres. While waiting for the next Mission: Impossible movie, maybe it is not a bad idea to re-watch and re-indulge in Cruise’s previous magnificent action-packed films.