(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.)

The first Mission: Impossible pulled off a critical achievement of Tom Cruise’s career: it turned him into as close to an Americanized James Bond as possible. The 1996 origin story of IMF agent Ethan Hunt was massively successful, grossing nearly $180 million at the box office at a time when such figure were rarely reached by blockbusters. But while Mission: Impossible covered many of the bases of a Bondian spy thriller – seemingly death-defying action setpieces, a globe-trotting story, and strange little gadgets that come in handy at key moments of suspense – there was one area in which the first film failed to gain much traction. James Bond is a suave action hero, yes, but he’s also as successful in bedding women as he is with taking down bad guys.

If Ethan Hunt wanted to be a true James Bond, then, he’d have to have his own kind of Bond girl. And so we arrive at the operatic world of Mission: Impossible 2.

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Mission Impossible 2 - rock climbing movie scenes

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, Free Solo documentary subject Alex Honnold breaks down some of the most famous rock climbing scenes in movies like Mission: Impossible 2 and Point Break. Plus, a video essay explores the best movies within movies, and the crew at Tested takes a close look at a showcase of rare, vintage Star Wars collectibles from decades ago. Read More »

Mission: Impossible Franchise

Talk about impossible: somehow, Mission: Impossible has blossomed into the best modern-day action franchise. Since 1996, Tom Cruise has been inviting audiences along as he defies the odds, risks his life, runs like hell, and delivers increasingly entertaining adventures. Unlike most franchises, Mission: Impossible has generally improved with each subsequent entry. Now, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is ready to draw us in once again.

Before the film arrives, we’ve decided to accept the most dangerous mission of all: a journey through the entire Mission: Impossible franchise in an attempt to learn what makes it tick.

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