And so we come to Jar Jar Abrams' first foray into his unforgivable plot to ruin all beloved movie franchises by making highly-enjoyable, well-received entries in them, the absolute monster: Mission: Impossible 3. It's great!
It's interesting that we're only three movies into the franchise at this point and there's already a movement towards having Tom Cruise retire from active superspy-ing duty and take on a trainer/handler kind of role. Tom Cruise was 44 in this movie, so you can kind of see why some movie execs who hadn't actually seen the man in action might have thought he was coming to the end of his high-flying stunt days, but little did they know that the Cruise Missile doesn't age like we humans do and that he'd still be going at it twelve full years later and somehow only getting better. MI3's a really fun movie with probably the best cast of the entire series (Larry Fishburne putting in work, Philip Seymore Hoffman as the villain, the introduction of Simon Pegg and Keri Russell absolutely owning her five minutes of screentime with that unteachable action star skill of 'not flinching when you fire the gun'). The big action setpieces are all fun, clever and frantic, and how could anyone forget the single best example of The Cruise Run in all of cinema?
My only complaint with this movie is that it feels very... small, somehow. It's JJ Abrams' first movie, and it just doesn't have that big blockbuster spectacle to it. It actually feels quite a lot like an extended episode of Alias, right down to the in medias res intro that then flashes back a few days earlier (which they did on Alias like every second episode). The IMF agents all work out of this boring office building in L.A., the gadgets aren't really all that impressive, Philly SeyHoff is great but he never really feels like a world-ending threat. It's also dated in its own way, with some veeeery Bourne-derivative handheld camerawork and Bush-era "the government is using the terrorists for its own gain" political machinations. It's still great, though. OCELOT'S RATING: 10 Cruise Run Sonic Booms out of 10
Next up is, of course, Mission: ImPaulable: Ghost Pattoncol, which, if I'm being super totally brutally honest with you guys... doesn't hold up as well as I thought it would...
I mean, it's still a fantastic movie, with absolutely incredible moments, and I still think the whole forty-ish minutes they spend in Dubai is 110% perfect from start to finish, but it's just not quite as good overall as I remember it being. There's this subplot with a Russian cop chasing Ethan all over the world that just bogs the movie down, the music is veeeery low energy and understated, there's a weird moment where you think Ethan is going to go and see Max (and they even outright tease it by having him be forced to put on the same blindfold mask he had to wear in the first movie) but it just turns out to be some random guy and you're like... why, though? But worst of all, this is the movie where they pushed the "Tom Cruise has to retire" angle the hardest, to the point where he has to spend so much time babying all the other members of his team that he misses out on doing a bunch of cool stuff himself. Do you remember what Ethan does at the palace in India? He holds his finger to his ear and shouts orders at the rest of the team while they do all the work. Uh uh. No thank you.
(Also how did Michael Nyqvist, may he rest in peace, end up being the final villain fistfighting both Ethan Hunt and John Wick?)
Paula Patton is in it, though. One day they're going to bring her back, with her big muscly forearms and her purring voice. Ilsa Faust is great and all, but did she really deserve two movies in a row? Well, yes, obviously, because she's wonderful and we all love her, but I'm brave enough to say that there's room for both of them. OCELOT'S RATING: 10 Paula Pattons out of Paula Patton
And to cap it all off, we enter the McQuarrie era with Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, which is so good! I really think Christopher McQuarrie gets it better than any MI director so far; he manages to balance the best of the action and spectacle with the cleverest of the espionage and plot-twist-ery. Fallout is his real masterpiece, but Rogue Nation was an excellent warmup, and I'd love to see him bang out another one before Tom Cruise hits 60 and we really have to start questioning whether he isn't an X-Man or something. Rogue Nation begins with Ethan hanging off the side of a real-life aeroplane actually taking off for reals, brings Alec Baldwin on board to do his Alec Baldwin thing, introduces a delectably hate-able villain in Solomon Lane and, of course, our angel Ilsa Faust. Also Jeremy Renner is there again. Remember Jeremy Renner? #JusticeForPaula
I'm not a huge fan of the action scenes and setpieces here, with the underwater break-in being a little too... I don't know, swimmy for my taste and the car/bike/plane stuff not lasting long enough to really get my motor running, but I still really like this movie. OCELOT'S RATING: 10 living manifestations of destiny out of 10.