Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2021 by Josh Spiegel
(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.