Film Junk Premium Podcast #41: Mission: Impossible

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to join us as we revisit the previous films in the Mission: Impossible series leading up to the release of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Along the way we examine the franchise’s ties to the trajectory of Tom Cruise’s career and the various directors that he has worked with over the years. Topics of discussion include Tom Cruise performing his own stunts, John Woo’s so-called ballet of bullets, early on-screen depictions of the internet plus the various gadgets of the series and their real-world practicality. So is M:I 2 just a thinly-veiled rip-off of The Mask of Zorro? Is the introduction of Ethan Hunt’s wife in M:I 3 a brilliant move or a real bummer? Does the plot of the first movie actually make any sense? Grab the latest premium podcast below before it self-destructs.

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This series of premium podcasts was created to help support the regular weekly Film Junk Podcast. Head on over to Bandcamp and download full episodes for a minimum donation of just $1. As always, let us know if you experience any technical difficulties or if you have any other suggestions for future specials. Thanks for your support!

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  • Indianamcclain

    I agree with Frank on M:I 3. It’s fast paced, has some good action, and has the the best villain in the series.

  • devolutionary

    Kudos guys for getting this up before the weekend! Will finish listening to this later but I do find it unfortunate that MI3 is probably Philip Seymour Hoffman’s campiest role. Better than MI2 at least.

  • Sam

    Best silent suspense sequence? Not sure if completely counts as it’s not entirely silent, but it is completely dialogue-free, but I would go with Rififi’s 30-minute long heist sequence.

  • devolutionary

    That’s a good one! What about the opening scene in Thief? James Caan apparently said that he did the vault cracking scene in one take without proper training.
    https://youtu.be/SEvomyYkIPY

  • Essie

    le cercle rouge too.

  • Essie

    Thank you guys sooo much! You pump out so much content for us! I was having such a bad day and this made it exponentially better. :)

  • Sam

    I know it’s a rare occurrence for Frank to have conflicting opinions, so I gotta call out his gripe he has with the Mission: Impossible titling inconsistencies.

    For the Alien franchise: Alien, Aliens, Alien (little 3 at top), and Alien: Resurrection, they run into pretty much exactly the same issue with their naming scheme.

    In the Alien premium, Frank goes even as far as saying that the naming of each movie ADDS to the Franchise cred, especially due to have inconsistent directors as well. That it all somehow forms together to give it MORE cred.

    But Mission: Impossible has the exact same director situation as the Alien Franchise (as Jay mentions in this premium), yet that one is bad enough to make Frank’s bottom list.

    So I ask Frank, what gives bud?

  • Booth

    I haven’t listened yet, but I’m sure it’s Frank who points out that Mission Impossible 2 is a rip-off of The Mask of Zorro.

    Because this is classic Frank — criticizing a film for having similarities to a movie made within the last twenty years (i.e. the extent of Frank’s film knowledge).

    Come on, Frank. If you occasionally watched a movie made before the year you were born, you would realize that MI2 is really a rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946).

  • Kenneth Serenyi

    In your discussion for the first movie, Sean and Jay claim that they zone out Phelp’s fake retelling of the failed mission and find it confusing when Ethan is working out what really happened in his mind at the same time. However, in the Blu-ray that I have, Phelps is not narrating at all while Ethan is working out the true events in his mind. Is my version of the movie that much different than what you guys watched? If not, I don’t see why that scene is so confusing, especially when Ethan’s total recall abilities are set up earlier when he meets Kittridge, and that scene is played out slowly enough that the audience should be able to keep up.

  • Kenneth Serenyi

    Speaking of copying, I distinctly remember there was a slight uproar when the line about agents being like ghosts was also used in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Eraser” later in 1996.

  • pcch7

    I have never been confused by Mission Impossible, not even when I was a kid.. Maybe subtitles help but I really don’t find it that confusing or complicated at all

  • pcch7

    I’d vote for this I think, love it.

  • pcch7

    Always had a thing for Claire

  • Frankie Knuckles

    You’re predicting skills are worse than mine Booth!!!!

  • devolutionary

    What should have happened is that they recolor the skin of Tom Cruise in the blu-ray covers for each film. That would line up better with the alien movie covers, no?

  • Booth

    Sweating…

  • schizopolis

    So Frank wanted to bring gum to test if it would stick onto glass in order to foil the first movie?? Hey Frank, instead, why don’t u get your hands on some plastique explosives and DISGUISE it as gum and test that. Coz, you know.. that would be more accurate.

  • schizopolis

    Also, the train-helicopter heist sequence was borrowed from Melville’s Un Flic. So two Melville references by De Palma in the first Mission: Impossible.

  • Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

    Frank: “The sandstorm looks really bad”.

    This criticism is common against games or movies that have sandstorms. But they also always come from people who have never seen a real sandstorm from a distance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv3EELYw4zQ

  • Glendon

    Great listen as always, though I I wish someone would have brought up for discussion the twist (and subsequent controversy) of turning the main character of the TV series into the film’s villain.

  • schizopolis

    In defense of John Woo’s MI:2, which I just rewatched today, there are as many classic film homages in this one as in De Palma’s. It’s basically a remake Hitchcock’s Notorious in the style of a spaghetti western. This is also the first film that made Cruise into Buster Keaton/Jackie Chan.

    The funniest part is the intentional (I think) homo-eroticism between the villain Ambrose and his blonde henchman, Stamp. I’ve seen this movies multiple times and I just noticed this. The dudes are talking about sex with Thandie Newton like a jealous couple and Ambrose bends his henchman over, makes him moan and then basically circumcises his pinky!! In the next scene at the racetrack, the villain makes out with Thandie Newton and it cuts to a close-up of the henchman’s newly bandaged circumcised finger. When Ambrose realizes he killed his henchman, the way he screamed and cried out…I dunno, man. It’s weird. Surprised you guys didn’t catch this.

    I’m assuming coz of Woo and Cruise, this is probably Reed’s favorite Mission: Impossible, which automatically means it’s Jay’s least favorite.

  • Flo Lieb

    It didn’t look any worse than the one in Mad Max: Fury Road.

  • Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

    My point was that, that is how sandstorms look like!

    Maybe people should stop criticizing how stuff that they have never seen in their life, looks “unrealistic”.

  • Kasper

    It’s been a few years since I last watched it, but to me MI:2 is far better than MI:3, which I find to be very lackluster. The only thing in 3 that stands out is the bridge sequence, and that’s only because it was used over and over again in marketing. 2 isn’t exactly godlike or anything, but while it has some low lows, it also has some high highs that tops anything on display in 3. Just the rock climbing in the opening is better than anything 3 has to offer.

  • KeithTalent

    Nonsense. Whether it looks the same as the naturally occurring phenomenon or not is irrelevant, how it looks in the movie is. That is all that matters and he’s right, it looks bad.

  • KeithTalent

    I’m with Frank; MI3>MIGP>MI>>MI2. Like Jay said, MI2 is really hard to stay focused on; I barely made it through. All of the others are so watchable which is what really makes MI2 the redheaded bastard of the series.

  • On that subject: I saw some behind the scenes stuff about T2 (more specifically the motorcycle jumping into the canal scene), and the special effects guys were talking about how the goal of special effects is not to look like reality but to give the illusion of looking like reality.

    In the scene they were talking about that meant keeping the motorcycle from smashing into tiny bits. For that is what would happen if it looked like reality.

  • Lior

    I knew it was either Rififi or Topcapi. I always get these two mixed up.

  • Lior

    I love MI 4 but the fact the Film Junk crew didn’t really talk about the villain of the piece during the discussion (I think he was mentioned by name only once) just proves to me again that the only weak part of this fantastic film is its lack of a memorable villain.

  • Lior

    Good call. I totally forgot about it. That must have antagonized some fans…

  • Bob

    I absolutely hated MI:2 when I first saw it, but I found myself enjoying it on a rewatch. At first, I just couldn’t believe the same guy who directed Hard Boiled, The Killer, Face Off and, yes, Hard Target, also made this movie, but I’ve come to appreciate the grand, ridiculous flourishes and skillful, creative Woo action, even if it’s all cheesy as hell. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I’m hoping there’s some mention that Woo was possibly shut out of the editing process by Cruise and there was an R-rated 3+ hour original cut; honestly, I would be interested in watching that.

    I’m glad there are others who think MI:3 is the best one in the series.

  • Lior

    From IMDB: “John Woo’s final cut of the film clocked in at 3-1/2 hours. The studio balked at this length and told him that the final length could not exceed 120 min. This could explain why there are so many plot holes and continuity errors in the theatrical cut.” If we’re going to believe this it’s pretty mind-boggling. 90 minutes of extra footage…

  • Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

    That’s my point: it doesn’t look bad. It looks like how real sandstorms are (which themselves could easily be mistaken for “bad effects” for someone who have never seen it before).

  • schizopolis

    I used to think M:I 2 was the worst. Now I think it’s M:I3. JJ Abrams’ contribution was just putting an Alias spin on it. He tried to make it darker and more serious in parts. His gotcha plot twists are more manipulative than other films coz he tried to up the stakes. Visually, it doesn’t compare to the other films either.

  • parapa

    The weird trap both parts 3 and 4 fall into is that they peak 2/3rds of the way through and have a real letdown of a 3rd act. This is why 1 is still the best, it manages to keep escalating and getting better and bigger with each set-piece. Even part 2, for all its faults, at least goes out with a bang in the last 1/2 hour.

    This is the biggest thing holding back Ghost Protocol. After the Dubai sequence, it stops dead for like 15 min of boring exposition, then ends with a pair of not very interesting fights. And the villain barely gets any screen-time and is super generic and boring.

  • There is something about JJ Abrams that make his films so forgettable to me. I usually enjoy his movies but as soon as it’s done I start to forget it.

  • milan

    Did frank watch ghost protocol, as it is not logged on letterboxd and if its not logged it did not happened… Who is policeing the police?

  • pcch7

    When Krieger kills the rat, I always assumed it’s because he’s about to sneeze and the rat is creeping closer. If he sneezes they’re toast. Still it’s a bit stupid but at least a reason

  • Bob

    The more I think about it, I’m betting that cut is probably way better than the final one. The thought of John Woo believing a 3.5 hour MI sequel would actually be released is kind of hilarious, though.

  • Lior

    I have to assume most of the extra footage is made out of action scenes and copious slow motion, because it’s hard for me to believe someone would submit a 3-hour screenplay for an action movie sequel (especially back in those days). Anyway, I found one of the Robert Towne drafts online and it’s only about a 100 pages long… in screenplays one page usually equals one minute of screen time.

  • Kenneth Serenyi

    The song “Ring Around the Rosie” is a song about the plague, so its inclusion at the beginning of Mission: Impossible 2 is at least symbolically linked to the plot of the movie.