Mission Impossible Revisited

(Welcome to Man on a Mission, a monthly series where we revisit the films of the Mission: Impossible franchise as we sprint toward the release of the seventh film in the franchise.)

There are two phases to the career of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. In the first phase of his career, Tom Cruise worked with exciting and distinctive auteurist directors, often being pushed to deliver daring and adventurous work. Not every film Cruise made in this phase was a creative success, but working with filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Cameron Crowe, and Paul Thomas Anderson led the star to unlock deep wells of talent in genres as diverse as Gothic horror, ’50s teen drama, and romantic comedy.

The other phase of Cruise’s career is much simpler and more straightforward. It’s Tom Cruise: Action Hero. In this phase, Cruise has fought mummies, never looked back (looking back is a classic rookie mistake), warded off science-fiction baddies, and generally kicked ass. Over the last quarter-century, Cruise has moved from working within both of these phases to fully embracing his action-hero credentials. (In the few times he has worked against those credentials in the 21st century, the resulting films are forgettable. Consider Lions for Lambs. Or maybe don’t.) 

Yet there’s a bridge between the two phases, connecting auteurs with Cruise’s gung-ho action style. In this bridge, the films manage to be distinctive products of not one, but two auteurs: the man credited as director (it’s always men), and Cruise himself. That bridge is comprised, of course, of the many misadventures of IMF Agent Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series. To date, there are six M:I films; the seventh installment, originally scheduled to open this July, is now slated to open on Memorial Day weekend 2022, with an eighth on the way in July 2023. 

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For years, most people who knew Richard Garriott knew him by his game industry alter-ego: Lord British. Under that name, Garriott made some of the best games in the early days of the hobby. His early effort Akalabeth: World of Doom paved the way for his Ultima series, a collection of games that still influences role-playing game development today. Garriott coined the term Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game as he developed Ultima Online, and in doing so helped shape the future of the game industry.

But there’s more to Garriott than gaming. He is the son of astronaut Owen K. Garriott, who took part in Skylab 3 and Space Shuttle missions. Richard Garriott wanted to be the first private citizen to go to space and nearly made it, until the dot-com bubble broke and devastated his finances. But he made it to space in 2008.

A documentary about his effort to escape Earth, called Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission, premiered at SXSW way back in 2010, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. It is finally getting a limited release this weekend. Check out the trailer below. Read More »