I did this purely for the fun of it, and there are some really interesting things that I found out.
Context: Mission Impossible is a spy movie that stars Tom Cruise.
This is a classic action show but sprinkled with some spy elements. But honestly with the amount of things that get blown up, or that everything gets uncovered, there’s not much spy work, but a lot more action instead. And this starts from the first one all the way through.
Learning point #1: The spy company that Ethan Hunt works at is almost completely independent.
The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) is not linked to any government agency, but instead is depending on the US Secretary (I’m actually not sure which one) to sanction the agency’s activities. The largest scale of the IMF ever shown is in MI3, where Ethan has to deal with the mole in the agency, and Lawrence Fishburne is the main handler that deals with everything. There’s a scene where Ethan Hunt has to escape the IMF themselves, and of course they fail to restrain him.
Practically speaking, this is a huge reason why there can be so much rogue activity from one single agent, Ethan Hunt himself. Comparatively, MI5 and MI6 both feature the CIA playing a hand at trying to retain IMF or working alongside, and CIA agents are portrayed as a parallel agency, but with stricter guidelines for sure. At that point, IMF is basically Ethan Hunt with his team to manage most of everything else. The only other movie that shows IMF having multiple teams is in MI1, where another team is introduced to take down Ethan Hunt’s team for having a mole within their team in the first place.
Learning Point #2: Ethan Hunt’s developing paranoia seems serious
Through MI4-6, Ethan starts to form the theory of the Syndicate. Because of the somewhat poor story telling of the Syndicate itself, it seems like Ethan is really making things up, ending up in a series of very difficult situations where one questions his sanity. He makes choices over and over again, that seem to prove a paranoid stance, where everyone is against him. There isn’t much respite, and at the end of MI6, at least it seems that the Syndicate’s major presence is dealt with, by the capturing of Solomon Lane.
But this story about the syndicate brings me to a major point:
Learning Point #3: MI 1 and MI2 don’t seem to have any main continuity.
There’s not really any major story line that progresses through. Ethan is just having his team grow and develop over time, but other than that, nothing else is constant. It almost feels like a Bond movie, just lacking a lot of overall story. At least James Bond is tied to the MI6 (British Intelligence, not the movie).
MI3 introduces his wife, Julia, and that seems to be a major cause for concern: the unstoppable agent finally tied down because he has a loved one he cares about. This also seems to be the underlying plot for the Mission Impossible movies, that something has happened to Julia, and Ethan needs to do something to make sure that the world she lives in is safe.
Learning Point #4: Tom Cruise ages
I used to look at Tom Cruise and think, man this guy never gets old. But literally watching movie after movie, I see him aging, and it’s a good development. He is indeed a very strong and athletic actor, but he really does get older in each show. It is just us who feel weird, because a man who we saw growing up still keeps fit. He is really really fit.
I watched everything on Netflix, because honestly, I just wanted something fun and silly to watch that had a series that I could follow. I thought it would be fun to try the Mission Impossible series, and it actually was.