Jul 31, 2018

Tradecraft: Latest 24 Reboot Attempt to Focus on Young Jack Bauer

Ever since 24 went off the air following its eighth season in 2010, Fox execs have been looking for ways to bring it back. For years they tried to develop a feature film based on the real-time TV series (which I'd still like to see happen!), then eventually brought it back in 2014 as the summer limited series event, 24: Live Another Day. That 12-episode format proved to be a vast improvement on the previous 24-episode format, and after star Kiefer Sutherland announced that he was done playing Jack Bauer, they tried it again with the Bauer-less reboot/revival/sequel series 24: Legacy. That incarnation didn't quite live up to their ratings expectations, but they immediately started plotting another strategy. There were rumors of abandoning the counter-terrorism theme altogether, and rebooting the show as a legal drama that kept only the real-time format. (Indeed, when the series launched in 2001 and the producers weren't certain where it would go, one idea was to make it a real-time anthology show. To that end, Imagine Entertainment optioned The Da Vinci Code as possible source material for a second season of 24. Obviously, that book blew up and instead Imagine turned it into a big screen feature.) Apparently the legal thriller idea (written by longtime 24 producer Howard Gordon and Jeremy Doner, and said to focus on a female lawyer trying to save a client from death row as the clock ticks down) remains a possibility, but Deadline reports that Fox is simultaneously developing another new incarnation of 24 as well: a Jack Bauer prequel series.

Written by Gordon (Homeland, Legends) and original 24 creators Bob Cochran (La Femme Nikita) and Joel Surnow (The Equalizer), "it is said to be in the vein of the original and will trace the origin story of CTU agent Jack Bauer," the trade reports. The network presumably sees this as a way to revisit the iconic, fan-favorite character without depending on Sutherland's involvement. I'm a little torn on this idea myself. While the possibility of seeing Jack Bauer as a young agent in the waning days of the Cold War is certainly appealing (assuming that's the direction they go, rather than rebooting entirely with a younger Bauer active today. a la NBC's Taken prequel series), I just can't imagine any actor beside Sutherland taking on that role. It will all depend on casting. If they can find the right actor, I suppose it just might work.... And who am I kidding? I'll watch a real-time spy series set in the late Eighties no matter who it stars!

Tradecraft: AMC Sets Premiere Date for Le Carré Miniseries THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL

Jonathan Olley/AMC/Ink Factory
According to Deadline, AMC has set a November premiere date for their flashy BBC co-production The Little Drummer Girl. That's exciting! When it began shooting earlier this year I figured we wouldn't see the latest John le Carré-based miniseries until next year. But the BBC recently released a trailer of its fall premieres, and The Little Drummer Girl was included. Even then, I worried AMC would hold off on U.S. broadcast until early next year, since there was a substantial delay between the UK and U.S. broadcast of the last BBC/AMC le Carré miniseries, The Night Manager. Now we know that won't be the case. (BBC has yet to announce the exact UK broadcast date, but viewers can expect it in the fall.)

Jonathan Olley/AMC/Ink Factory
Based on le Carré's 1983 novel, The Little Drummer Girl follows Charlie, a naive young English actress recruited by Israeli Intelligence into the "theater of the real"– to infiltrate a Palestinian terror organization. She soon finds herself seduced by both sides and caught in the middle.

Jonathan Olley/AMC/Ink Factory
Florence Pugh (King Lear) stars as Charlie, Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies) plays Becker, the enigmatic stranger who seduces, recruits, and eventually handles her, and Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) plays a ruthlessly clever, masterfully manipulative, somewhat Smiley-like Mossad spymaster, Kurtz. Most excitingly, the brilliant Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) directs all six episodes. As with The Night Manager, le Carré and his sons  Simon and Stephen Cornwell (principals in the Ink Factory) are among the producers. Locations in the novel include Britain, Greece, Germany, Austria, Israel, and Libya. I'm not sure which ones make it into the miniseries (key book locations were changed and omitted from The Night Manager), but the production definitely filmed at the Acropolis, the first shoot ever to be granted permission to do so.

I can't wait till November!

Jonathan Olley/AMC/Ink Factory

Jul 28, 2018

Watch Peter Graves Get a Colonoscopy in Wonderful Seventies American Cancer Society MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE PSA

This is so bizarre it might be the best thing ever. Peter Graves, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus all participate in this Mission: Impossible-themed PSA for the American Cancer Society from the early Seventies. (Judging by the episode clips, it looks like it was filmed at the beginning of Season 6 around the time of the episode "The Tram.") Graves takes a trip to the proctologist and introduces audiences to the importance of a colonoscopy. No, thankfully we're not actually subjected to watching the actor undergo that particular procedure, but we do see him going over the results with the doctor and marveling at the wonders of modern medicine. He also gets good scenes with Morris and Lupus, affording us a rare and cool glimpse behind the scenes of Mission: Impossible. Even if the interactions are earnestly staged for our benefit, it's still incredible to see onto the set of this wonderful series. And, of course, the message is still important! This really should have been included as an extra on one of the DVD sets. Thank goodness for YouTube! Check it out.

Read my review of Mission: Impossible III (2006) here.
Read my review of M:I-2 (2000) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible (1996) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.

Jul 27, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006)

NOTE: Like a Bruce Geller third act twist, I'm having a lot of technical trouble on this series. I don't know why my screen grabs are appearing squished. I'm trying to fix that, but wanted to go ahead and get this post up anyway for now.

After the first two films helmed by Brian De Palma and John Woo, respectively, the Mission: Impossible film franchise had established itself as a director’s series, attracting well-established auteurs and leaving them free to imprint their own style on the series rather than vice versa. (In fact, for better or worse, I can think of no example of another pre-existing franchise bending to the style of a single director than M:I-2.) In keeping with that tradition, major auteur David Fincher was approached to direct the third film. I’m curious what that would have looked like (especially after his bad experience working on another established franchise), but it wasn’t to be. After Fincher left, Tom Cruise (wearing his producer hat) and then-partner Paula Wagner decided to take a different approach. Instead of going with a well-established director, they’d take a chance on a bold new voice. That voice was Joe Carnahan, who had made a dramatic debut with Narc (2002), a movie Cruise came on board to executive produce. Carnahan’s Mission: Impossible III was all set to go with Kenneth Brannagh and Carrie-Ann Moss… but then it didn’t. The director famously quit the project. Still, Cruise seemed to like the idea of a fresh voice, at least theatrically. One weekend he binge-watched J.J. Abrams’ inventive ABC spy series Alias (of which Abrams had directed several episodes, including the spectacular pilot), and decided that despite having no experience directing feature films, Abrams was the man for the job. Thus the franchise shifted gears, and went from being a playground for veteran auteurs to a showcase for fresh voices, relatively new to live-action features. And in doing so, Mission: Impossible III established J.J. Abrams’ reputation as a director who could reinvigorate stagnant franchises… though always dividing fans. 

After Woo’s all flash, no character (or all style, no substance) approach to M:I-2, Abrams’ third entry begins with a pure character beat, signifying yet another change of direction for the series. Abrams had brought on two of his Alias writers with experience running their own spy series before that (Jack of All Trades), Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and together they set out to do with Mission: Impossible what they did weekly on Alias, and ground spy action in personal family drama. This approach makes a welcome change from the characterless action histrionics of M:I-2, but also presents its own set of problems. Namely, when it comes to TV origins, Mission: Impossible III feels more like Alias than it does like Mission: Impossible—which has never been a character-driven franchise. But the experiment works, to some degree, like those occasional special, personal episodes of the TV series that I enjoy so much.

That opening character beat comes when the movie begins in media res (a favorite technique of Abrams), and thrusts us into the middle of the drama without knowing how we got there. The scene finds our hero, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), going through all the stages of grief as the clear villain, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman, looking far more fit than he did in A Most Wanted Man), threatens the woman Ethan loves, Julia (Michelle Monaghan, fresh off of her career-launching turn in the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Davian wants to know the location of a MacGuffin called “the Rabbit’s Foot,” and Ethan denies, rages, and bargains for Julia’s life as the villain calmly counts to ten with a gun to her head. Then there’s a shocking gunshot, and we flash back to learn how everyone got to that point. It’s a very formalist script from there on in, and true to Joseph Campbell the hero rejects the call at first. (Which is kind of hard to do in the M:I format wherein he’s asked point blank to accept it!)

The IMF’s top superspy doesn’t want to go back into the field because he’s been domesticated. He’s living a peaceful life as an instructor for new trainees, complete with a beautiful fiancé, Julia (who believes he works for the Department of Transportation), and, when we meet them, a house full of friends and family. (Hers, not his. Apparently the mother and uncle Kittridge used as bait in the first film are no longer with us.) For Alias fans, it’s nice to see series regular Greg Grunberg among those friends. Even at home, Ethan’s superspy skills are still attuned, as demonstrated when he tunes into Julia’s conversation all the way across the room and surprises her friends by chiming in. But a whole movie of this would be pretty boring, so it’s no surprise when Ethan answers the phone and hears a recorded voice using a code phrase and instructing him to go to a nearby convenience store.

It is, of course, a personal thing that lures Ethan back into the field: an agent he trained, the first agent he deemed ready for fieldwork, Lindsey Ferris (a pre-Americans Keri Russell) has been captured by the man her team was investigating—Davian. An old IMF colleague and friend, now superior, John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) wants Ethan to lead the rescue operation. He leaves him a familiar briefing recording in a disposable camera to consider. It’s wheels up in the morning. Will Ethan be there? Of course—and in a nice homage to the Cruise classic Top Gun, he arrives on a motorcycle against the haze of dawn.

The IMF of Mission: Impossible III (whose headquarters is indeed hidden within the façade of the Department of Transportation) is a huge, sprawling bureaucracy where even the disembodied voices who record mission briefings have bosses. And even they report to some sort of upper management  (or board, or whatever) that seems to consist of at least ten people whose job it is to scowl and grumble at lowly field agents. This makes a stark contrast with what was presented as a fairly small division of the CIA in the first movie, and seemed to be fairly small in the second, too, seeing as the boss (Anthony Hopkins) could turn up in the field to provide his own personal briefing in lieu of a tape recorder. The agency may be unlike the IMF of previous films, but it’s very much like SD-6 (or the CIA’s L.A. field office) of Alias. Its head, Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) presides over it like Ron Rifkin’s Arvin Sloan or Angela Bassett’s Hayden Chase, or Terry O’Quinn’s Assistant Director Kendall—whoever happens to be the yelly boss of a given season. Like his name implies, Brassel is the yelliest of IMF bosses, and this is not a man who would turn up in Seville for an in-person briefing, and unlike Hopkins’ character, seems to have no special regard for Ethan’s talents. There’s a whole tech division, of which resident nerd Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) is the star—basically filling the Marshall role from Alias. The office could even be one of the Alias office sets. All of this is illustrative of the larger picture in Mission: Impossible III: it’s basically a mega-budget episode of Alias, with Ethan as Sidney. It explores the same themes of a spy having to choose between work and personal life, except instead of Francie and Will, Ethan has Julia and her huge family and circle of friends.

Even the first mission of the movie, though undeniably spectacular, feels like an Alias mission rather than a Mission: Impossible mission. (Though Alias in turn, of course, owed a huge debt to the original Mission TV show.) Instead of masks and cons, it’s all miniguns (operated by familiar face Luther Strickel, played for the third time straight by the movies’ longest running co-star, Ving Rhames) and martial arts and shooting and exploding, and running around an abandoned warehouse—which, Abrams’ commentary track reveals, actually is actually a reused Alias location, from the pilot! 

But at least there’s a team involved, in true M:I style, and not just Ethan going it solo. Besides Rhames, the team includes Maggie Q (Nikita) as Zhen Lei and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Damascus Cover) as Irish agent Declan Gormley. Both are likable and manage a good repartee, even if their characters are underdeveloped. Like Billy Baird from M:I-2, I’d love to see either or both reappear in a future series installment. 

It’s also great to hear this mission accompanied by strains of not only Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Impossible Theme, but also his distinctive TV track “The Plot,” after a frustrating dearth of both in the previous film! Of course it’s no surprise that composer Michael Giacchino (another Alias alum brought on board by Abrams) is clearly a fan of Schifrin’s music, as he’d already demonstrated his deep affection for Sixties spy sounds with his brilliant John Barry pastiche score for Brad Bird’s The Incredibles (2004).

In stark contrast to Woo’s movie, this first action setpiece is distinctly character-driven (Abrams’ specialty). As the team flees the warehouse, having rescued Lindsey, in a Huey helicopter piloted by Declan, Ethan has to perform a medical operation on her. While he’s trying to charge his defibrillators, a pursuing Cobra attack helicopter gets missile lock on the team. The combination of extreme physical peril with human drama results in excellent, nail-biting tension more effective than any slow-motion, dove-filled explosion. And we feel Ethan’s torment when, in the midst of the chaos, he loses her. This failure deeply undercuts the team’s momentary elation at evading the Cobra through a field of windmills (which might, in keeping with series tradition, be a Hitchcock reference—to Foreign Correspondent).

Back at IMF Headquarters, Brassel yells at Hunt for things no reasonable boss would yell about, blaming him for Lindsey’s ostensible mission failure since it was Ethan who had deemed her field-ready, and demanding to know why on earth he let her on the helicopter while under fire in a breakneck chase on the mission whose sole objective was to rescue her… without first scanning her head for bombs. As if Ethan was supposed to predict that the villain would have a thing for implanting bombs in people’s heads via their noses just because it had happened on an episode of Alias!

The next setpiece in this mission will be a very traditional Mission: Impossible sequence, but before we get there, Ethan has some more domestic business to take care of. His moodiness after losing Lindsey and his sudden need to travel a lot for work has Julia concerned. He can't tell her what's up, but he asks for her trust. Then, to demonstrate he really means it, he proposes that they just get married on the spot, at the hospital where she works. And right there in the middle of a Mission: Impossible movie, Ethan Hunt gets married. He is now truly invested in these personal stakes. But as Luther tries to tell him, settling down isn't for spies. Somehow, it always falls to Luther to make sense of Ethan's romantic life. After he gives his friend a long lecture on all the reasons a spy should never get married and warns him that Julia will somehow be used against him, Ethan tells him they already got married. After a beat, Luther says, "Congratulations." Of course, he's perfectly right, and Julia will be used against Ethan—sooner rather than later.

Ethan, now firmly back on board thanks to feeling personally responsible for losing Lindsey, leads the team on their next attempt to find Davian and stop him from getting a doomsday device—that "Rabbit's Foot" we heard about in the cold open (it's impossible not to think of this entry like a TV episode), and amusingly never learn the true nature of. This attempt, in great spy fashion, will take place at a black tie benefit gala. And that gala happens to be at the Vatican... because why not? It's a great Mission location!

The Vatican operation really does play out like a traditional Mission: Impossible TV setpiece, and it's highly rewarding for fans of the show. It's a great setpiece with loads of classic spy trappings, accompanied by a great score. Declan creates a diversion by causing a traffic jam outside, enabling Ethan to scurry up the wall. Cruise then does his patented horizontal dangle coming down from the wall inside Vatican City. There's really no reason for belly-flopping into the courtyard like this, other than that the character has a history of it. While in M:I-2 another horizontal, Topkapi-style dangle felt like a tired and inferior rehash of the iconic moment from the first film, this time it feels like a winking, playful reference... and it's fun. After changing disguises, Ethan, in the perfect image of a priest, enters the Vatican itself.

Zhen, meanwhile, makes her splashy entrance in a gaudy (if awesome) orange Lamborghini and a spectacular red dress with flesh-revealing cutouts just perfectly appropriate for a day at the, um, Vatican. As in all the best Mission capers, every team member has a role to play. Zhen covertly photographs Davian's face with her compact camera, beaming the results to Luther and Ethan, lurking in the bowels of the Vatican, so they can 3D print the mask of his face. (And this was still a few years before 3D printing was a widely available technology!)

This is cool new mask technology on display (retaining the voice chipped Band-Aid from M:I-2, but further explaining how it works), but also very classic. Rollin Hand sometimes had to create on-the-go disguises like this on the TV show. Abrams builds suspense with the ticking clock of needing to make the mask before the real Davian enters the bathroom (driven there by Zhen spilling red wine on his shirt), and then throws in that classic Bruce Geller monkey wrench by having a bodyguard check on his boss before Ethan (wearing his Philip Seymour Hoffman mask) has managed to fully synthesize Davian's voice. The team eventually makes a rather spectacular escape, with the real Davian unconscious in their custody, involving the destruction of that Lamborghini, sewers, and a shot that's become sort of a staple of the series—the whole team, looking cool and collected, riding away in a motorboat.

Upon returning to the United States with Davian, Ethan and an IMF convoy are ambushed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge causeway while transporting the prisoner. (Prisoner transports rarely go well in Mission: Impossible movies.) This was marketed as the film's signature action setpiece, but doesn't rank as highly for me as the Vatican sequence or a car chase to come in Shanghai. The causeway scene is too derivative. It plays like a cross between Clear and Present Danger and True Lies... with a dash of Licence to Kill thrown in. (It also prefigures a better, similar sequence in Fallout.) But it does bring us a few more impressive Cruise stunts, including a leap across a huge gap in the partially decimated bridge, and a leap from an explosion that's more impressive than it sounds owing to the obvious proximity of Cruise to the blast.

Ethan, of course, is blamed for this fiasco, because that's the way things work in Brasell's Alias-style bureaucracy. This time it goes beyond undeserved chewing out, and Ethan is instead trussed up like a cannibal complete with a Hannibal Lechter face mask. This raises a few questions, like why the IMF deems Ethan's mouth a bigger threat than his fingers (which naturally manage to pick the locks binding his hands with some help from his pal Musgrave), and how exactly the HR department manages to be so much more effective than any other in this enormous bureaucracy. Because my experience with large corporations is that it's very hard for anyone to even get fired with all the red tape and worries about discrimination suits. And I would think a government department would be even worse! One would imagine that a lot of paperwork needs to be filed in order to prove an employee was in need of a cannibal mask; otherwise the IMF would be looking at some potentially whopper lawsuits for wrongful restraint. Whether Ethan brings any action against his employers we never learn in the course of this movie, because Abrams wisely decides a more exciting course of action is for him to escape, go rogue (of course), and run off to Shanghai to find the Rabbit's Foot. Because now that Davian knows who he is, Davian (who is just plain evil) has naturally kidnapped Julia and used her for leverage, just as Luther correctly predicted would happen. But sometime during his flight, it must occur to Ethan that one of his bosses has to be a traitor for Davian's group to have found out where to intercept them. Is Brassel's incompetence actually a mask for treachery? Or is the mole Ethan's friend, Musgrave? It's an Ipcress File scenario, where one of the bosses must be bad.

In Hong Kong, the team helps Ethan break into yet another tall building. For a while you couldn't call a Mission: Impossible movie "the one with the skyscraper," because like saying "the Robert Ludlum book with the twins," that wasn't specific enough. Ethan broke into a skyscraper in M:I-2 by jumping from a helicopter. And, of course, the fourth movie easily made itself the definitive Mission: Impossible with the skyscraper when Ethan rappelled outside the world's tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa. So Mission: Impossible III is stuck in the middle, but for my money it's a more creative and thus more enjoyable sequence than the one in M:I-2. Instead of getting in by dangling (since he's already done that for this movie), Ethan gets in by using a fulcrum... or swinging from one tower to another. Sure, it's basically a variation on a dangle, but with more forward momentum, but it's fun to watch. (I also like that his team distracts the guards in advance by launching tennis balls at the building's glass roof.) There's then a pretty exciting bit where Ethan slides headfirst down the sloping glass side of the skyscraper, and even has to shoot some guards while he's sliding towards the perilous precipice, but what I really like about this particular break-in is that we don't follow Ethan inside. Instead Abrams keeps us with Declan and Zhen in a van outside, waiting to aid him in his escape when he base jumps out. They have a genuine tender moment in the midst of this ostensible action scene... only to be interrupted when Ethan, inevitably, comes bursting out of the building in the wrong place and several floors too low, his parachute blowing haphazardly and threatening to fold up on itself. 

There follows a great chase through the streets of Shanghai, first with Declan and Zhen in pursuit of the parachuting Ethan, and then, when the collect him, with Ethan (and obviously Cruise, for real) hanging out of the vehicle shooting backwards at a pursuing car. That's impressive, as is another bit where a giant tanker truck skids sideways over Ethan. It's pretty great action against a pretty great backdrop, and that combination makes it the best sequence in the movie for me. Of course, all this action has only gotten our man the Rabbit's Foot; it hasn't saved Julia. For that, Abrams introduces a scene that will become a new staple of the series: the Long Run.

It could be argued, I suppose, that Ethan's doom-fraught dash through the streets of Prague in the first movie, trying and failing to get to each team member before they're killed, is a Long Run. But it's in too many different directions, with too many different stops along the way. So I'd call it a precursor at best to what Abrams sets up: a sequence in which Cruise needs to run at full bore for a great distance, always moving forward, inevitably against a ticking clock of some sort and ideally with Benji in his ear telling him where to go. This one ticks all those boxes, as Benji, back at headquarters because he is not yet a field operative, directs Ethan as he runs through residential Shanghai neighborhoods to the location where Julia is being held.

While this exciting run is followed by another fist fight (a fairly dull yet all too common ending to M:I movies), this one at least isn't bogged down by the unnecessary flipping and senseless slow motion that hampered Ethan's fight with Ambrose at the end of M:I-2. Instead this is a gritty, nasty throw-down with Davian. Philip Seymour Hoffman may have never actually been a physical match for the always athletic Tom Cruise, but he's a good enough actor that he certainly manages to convince us he is! His performance (reminiscent of his turn in Punch Drunk Love) is just so full of palpable menace that I damn well believe it each time he knocks Ethan down. (The odds are also evened a bit by the fact that Ethan has just run who knows how many blocks and—oh yeah—had one of those nose bombs implanted in his head!) Davian isn't a particularly well-developed character (he remains a cipher, albeit a brutal one), and doesn't even have a lot of scenes in the movie, but Hoffman so thoroughly occupies the ones that he is in that he easily becomes the series' best villain to date. (A record I'd say he probably still holds, though Rogue Nation's Sean Harris at least comes close.)

Despite being a civilian, Julia proves herself a remarkably competent and capable heroine when she basically saves the day after being saved by Ethan. Ethan actually dies for a little while in this movie, and Julia not only manages to (eventually) revive him, but also to slay quite a few more villains (including the turncoat IMF superior) in the time while he's dead! There's a brief moment in Mission: Impossible III where we get to glimpse her hanging out with the whole team (including Benji), and at the time it seemed to portend more... but sadly that wasn't to be, and her character was obviously taken in a different direction.

If M:I-2 suffered from an overabundance of style from a director who was ridiculously self-assured, Mission: Impossible III suffers from a relative lack of style from a director who's just discovering his. Abrams can tell a story like nobody's business (on its own enough to elevate the third film well above the second one), and he's good with character and hence good with actors (much better than Woo on this front), eliciting fine performances from all involved. But he's not (or at least wasn't at this point in his career) a master of building elaborate action scenes. Mind you, he's not bad at it, either, but most of the action direction feels a tad perfunctory. Used to television and having to stretch a small budget, he tends to rely heavily on close-ups during chase scenes and fights that require the camera to occasionally stand back and let the audiences get their bearings. Even simple conversations over-rely on close-ups, cutting from one face to another as dialogue is spoken (again, standard for TV), and rarely giving us a two-shot with both characters in focus at the same time. That said, the editing is good, and the shots are at least reliably steady and never so jerky (like all the imitation Greengrass stuff we see in this genre) that we can't tell what's going on. And I definitely prefer this sort of action to overwrought slow motion. But it would take another movie for us to get back to truly spectacular action where you can always tell who's where. And Abrams' palette is as cool as Woo's was warm, but just as monotonous. I did get a bit sick of blues and greens. 

Overall, Mission: Impossible III is a major step in the right direction. It's more of a team movie, with a few more nods to the TV show than the second movie had. It's got a great score that once again makes ample use of Schifrin, as any M:I score should. And it's got legitimate character development. But it also gets a bit bogged down in that character development. Ethan isn't Sidney Bristow. Audiences don't want to see him torn between action and home life; they just want to see him performing ever more impossible stunts! Abrams did exactly what he knew how to do expertly at that time. He delivered a terrific big-screen Alias movie, with the cast of Mission: Impossible. But even if that formula doesn't make for a perfect Mission, it proved the perfect stepping stone from which both the franchise and Abrams were able to reach stunning new heights.

The DVD and Blu-ray feature a surprisingly in-depth half-hour making-of. Sure, it’s largely EPK footage of people congratulating each other, but it’s also a fly-on-the-wall look at J.J. Abrams’ first feature directing experience. It shows how a lot of the stunts were done, what things were miniatures, and reveals that that Berlin factory where they rescue Lindsey is actually the same building where the pilot of Alias was shot! It's also worth noting that the documentary ends with a  piece of music not found in the movie that uses the Mission: Impossible theme. That's a rap with M:I-related lyrics called “Self Destruct” by Kid Beyond. I can’t find any information about this bizarre track online! With lyrics mentioning, “Retinal scanning procedure” and a chorus that goes, “Get ready for the self-destruct," it has more to do with the series than a lot of the pop songs on the second film's soundtrack.

There are also five short deleted scenes. Most are from the Berlin factory sequence, and it's easy to see why Abrams decided to cut that down and keep things moving quickly through the movie's first action scene. But one scene between Cruise and Crudup proves to be a pretty substantial omission, whose inclusion would have improved the movie's plot. Another shows a lot more of Maggie Q and her Lamborghini (never a bad thing!), which not only provides more eye candy, but also explains how her character gets into the Vatican, something resolved (somewhat confusingly) off-screen in the film.

The commentary with Abrams and Cruise contains many surprising revelations, like the fact that the famous Philip Seymour Hoffman dialogue in the opening scene (that was featured heavily in the film's marketing campaign) was originally shot as Eddie Marsan’s dialogue. Then they realized that it had to be Hoffman speaking and reshot it. Marsan's part became tiny, but it was definitely the right decision because it helps make Hoffman such a great villain. 

Mission Report
TV Moments: Loads—mostly from Alias, though, instead of Mission: Impossible! (Ethan's disguise as a priest does seem vaguely reminiscent of Martin Landau in the episode "The Cardinal," however.)
Dangling: There’s a classic horizontal dangle as Ethan descends the Vatican wall (winkingly acknowledging its own superfluousness, as opposed to M:I-2’s blatant and inferior copying)
Rogue Agents: Yes, it’s pretty clear that one of Ethan’s IMF bosses—Musgrave or Brasell—is a turncoat... sort of an Ipcress File situation.
Rogue Ethan: For sure. Locked up like Hannibal Lechter on nonsense charges by Brasell, he escapes to save his wife and somehow convinces his whole team to go along with him on this unsanctioned, personal mission.
Fashion Alert: Either the 2000s wasn’t a decade of particularly egregious trends, or we’re still too close to realize what was wrong. Happily, Ethan never sports an Ed Hardy T-shirt and neck tattoo, anyway!
The Long Run: Ethan has to run across most of Shanghai as the clock ticks down on Julia, and Benji directs him via cell phone.

Buy Mission: Impossible III on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Read my review of M:I-2 (2000) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible (1996) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.

Jul 25, 2018

La La Land Announces 2-Disc Soundtrack for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - THE 1988 TELEVISION SERIES

Here's some fantastic news for Mission: Impossible Week! In 2015, coinciding with the release of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, La-La Land Records brought us the utterly fantastic 6-disc set Mission: Impossible - The Television Scores. (Which is still available from their site.) This had long been a Holy Grail for fans of the series, and completely lived up to (and exceeded!) our wildest expectations. Every single episode of the original 1966-73 TV series that had an original score was represented... but the 1988-90 revival series was not. (Which was entirely appropriate, as the Eighties music had a different vibe and would have felt out of place.) But now, to coincide with the release of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, La La Land is doing it again!

Next week they'll release a 2-disc collection of music by Lalo Schifrin and Ron Jones from Mission: Impossible - The 1988 Television Series! I was really hoping they'd do this, but didn't dare actually expect it. As with just about any score incorporating Schifrin's iconic theme, this series featured some great music. Some of it was included on GNP Crescendo's release The Best of Mission: Impossible Then and Now, but that was really just the tip of the iceberg, and didn't feature any Jones music. (It did include John E. Davis's score work, however.) La-La Land has released very little information about this title so far (basically just a teaser to whet our appetites), so I'm not sure if this release will feature music from both seasons of the revival series or just the 1988 one. (If it's the latter, hopefully that means we'll see another volume around the time the next Mission movie hits screens!) Here's what we do know:

It's a limited edition of 1988 units. The album is produced by Lukas Kendall, with liner notes by Jon Burlingame (whose extensive spy music expertise has also graced his own productions, like the aforementioned 6-disc original series set, FSM's Man from U.N.C.L.E. discs, as well as his book The Music of James Bond) and art direction by Dan Goldwasser. The price point will be $29.98, and the set goes on sale through the La-La Land website on July 31, 2018 at 12 pm Pacific. That's next week! I can't wait.

La-La Land will also be releasing the physical CD of Lorne Balfe's score for Mission: Impossible - Fallout, due out on August 3. (They also put out the soundtrack for Rogue Nation.)

Jul 24, 2018

Movie Review: M:I-2 (2000)

M:I-2 (as it was known in all advertising materials at the time, not as Mission: Impossible 2) is a 75 minute movie, but half of it is played in slow motion, so it fills out two full hours. At least it wasn’t longer. Scarves blow in slow motion, doves fly in slow motion, and lots and lots of things blow up in slow motion. Practically everything in this movie explodes at one point, and this being from that lamentable era circa the turn of the millennium when CG was everywhere, but had not yet been perfected, most of it explodes horribly into bright orange digital bits that offend the eye. Adhering helpfully to the doctrine of truth in advertising, all promotional materials for M:I-2 were colored that same unnatural orange—almost like a warning label. 

M:I-2 has very little to do with Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996, review here). And that is by design. Producer and star Tom Cruise told director John Woo prior to filming that (according to Woo on the audio commentary), “there’s no need to connect to the first one, and no need to worry about the original TV series.” This bold strategy is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it defined the film series for the first decade of its existence, and in particular it differentiated it from contemporary spy series like James Bond or Jack Ryan, both of which attempted a fairly uniform look and feel to define their respective brands, even as the lead actors changed. It gave the Mission: Impossible franchise a reputation as a director’s series, in stark contrast to 007 where at that point the producers very much still called the shots, and they tended to hire journeyman directors rather than auteurs. On the other hand, it made the series wildly uneven, and frustrating for fans both new (from the first film) and old (going back to either Bruce Geller’s original 1966-73 TV series, or else the 1988-90 revival series, both of which had starred Peter Graves).

Like Brian De Palma, John Woo was very much an auteur. He’d made his mark directing wildly stylized, gonzo Hong Kong action movies including out and out masterpieces like Bullet in the Head (1990) and The Killer (1989). Then he came to America and worked his way up all over again from generic Jean-Claude Van Damme fare (Hard Target) to lame but stylish mainstream action blockbusters (the unauthorized Thunderball remake Broken Arrow). In 2000 he was riding high, having just come off the one genuine masterpiece of his Hollywood period, Face/Off (1997). He was definitely an exciting choice to leave his mark on the still nascent Mission: Impossible film series… but ultimately proved a poor match.

Auteur directors are among the only things the first two Mission: Impossible movies have in common. Besides that, there are two common actors, Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames… though neither really seems like he’s even playing the same character as in the first film, despite having the same names. There are masks. There is a setpiece that involves dangling. There is the iconic Lalo Schifrin theme, though it’s barely used in the sequel. And then there’s a shared pedigree. Not so much Geller’s TV show, but Alfred Hitchcock movies. While De Palma’s film took its cue from the great director’s man-on-the-run movies like North By Northwest and Saboteur, Woo’s finds its starting point with To Catch a Thief and Notorious (both clearly big influences on the director’s career, both of which he had already mined to better effect in two different versions of Once A Thief).

We meet Ethan this time around on vacation. (Not to the strains of the Mission: Impossible theme, but to horrible late 90s "vacation music.") And what he does for relaxation might explain his seeming need to engage in impossible feats of derring-do in his career. He’s relaxing by climbing an enormous, intimidating rock face without any safety equipment. And he’s not rock climbing for fun like Captain Kirk & Co. rock climb for fun. He’s jumping from rock face to rock face, and risking death each time. When he finds himself dangling by one arm, instead of panicking like I would do, he grins like he’s loving this, twists himself around (a good opportunity to show off Cruise’s impressive biceps), and flips up onto the cliff. (Ethan does a lot of flipping in this movie.) A helicopter arrives and shoots a piton into the rock face next to him. He removes a pair of sunglasses form the hollow piton (really, really cool sunglasses—too cool), puts them on, and gets his mission briefing that way. And this scene demonstrates from the start what’s wrong with this movie as a Mission: Impossible movie. 

The classic mission briefing traditionally comes from an ordinary, everyday item in a normal urban or suburban setting. It’s the juxtaposition of the mundane with the exotic that makes these unexpected briefings fun. In the first film, it came via an in-flight movie—an experience any audience member can relate to. In this one it comes from a pair of wrap-around Oakleys stuffed inside a missile shot from a helicopter atop an insurmountable cliff. And instead of getting a classic briefing, the sunglasses basically just tell Ethan to go to Seville and recruit a civilian—a thief—named Nyah Nirdoff-Hall. Then he’ll get his real briefing in person. Oh, and of course the message will self-destruct in a matter of seconds, no matter how cool Cruise looks in the shades. He throws them at the camera and they burst into those uncanny orange digital flames that so many things will burst into throughout the movie, and those flames become the main titles. Needless to say, they’re not nearly as cool as the ones in the first film that paid homage to the TV series.

In Seville, the To Catch a Thief part of Ethan’s mission kicks in first. He glimpses Nyah (the beautiful Thandie Newton, not yet the caliber of actress she would mature into) across a dance floor where flamenco dancers promenade, and they lock eyes. It’s a good encounter, as Woo and composer Hans Zimmer work hard to make it something special with alternating film speeds (the slow motion hasn’t gotten old yet), and a music-only soundtrack. The track, “Seville,” is the diagetic sound of the music the dancers are dancing to, but with all other sounds faded out. Yet Cruise and Newton don’t dance—at least not physically. 

She disappears upstairs to rob the place, and he follows. He catches her trying to steal a necklace, but aids her instead of stopping her, flirting all the while with a huge grin on his face. (Cruise’s main acting techniques in this one are “grin” and “flip.”) They end up in a dry bathtub on top of each other, and it’s a fun, sexy scene—though a lot of the credit for that has to go to Newton’s amazing push-up bra. But before she can make off with the invaluable necklace she’s after, he (unbeknownst to her) spoils her score and sets off an alarm. Then he pretends like she’s his associate, testing the security of the villa (that old chestnut!), throwing her a lifeline and beginning her recruitment. He assumes she’s needed on the team for her skills as a thief, and he pitches her that way. But she still eludes him, driving off in an Audi convertible. He follows in a topless Porsche, and now they finally get to dance—in their respective sports cars.

As the cars “dance” with each other in some extremely dangerous driving along twisty, cliff-side roads (are there any other kind in spy movies?), Ethan continues to pitch her, speaking from car to car. I certainly respect the idea of Ethan’s recruitment pitch for Nyah coming from car to car during a high speed chase/race (even if GoldenEye had it first and executed it better—and nonverbally), but it’s impossible to believe they could hear each other over the engines of their open top Porsche and Audi! Then they start spinning out locked together and the soundtrack goes purely music again in “Nyah,” the movie’s signature tune, recalling the flamenco number that played when they first met. Again, the idea is cool, but the main problem is that now the slow motion is starting to get old… and we’re only twenty minutes in! And, frankly, instead of underscoring the grace of this automotive ballet, Zimmer’s slow, lusty, Latin-flavored dance music saps the scene of all energy. The romantic angle doesn’t work; this is a scene that requires pulse-pounding Schifrin material, and it’s nowhere to be found. Scored differently, I think I might love this scene. But as it stands, I do not. I feel like the combination of seduction and cars should make the seduction extra exciting, not make the car chase boring. (And seduction should never be boring to begin with! “Boring” and “romantic” are not the same.) 

Even Woo doesn’t seem convinced with his own execution, because he follows this scene up with a more traditional seduction scene (which shouldn’t be necessary if the car dance had achieved its goals), and Cruise, saddled with lines like, “Damn, you’re beautiful!” just isn’t as smooth as Pierce Brosnan always managed to be in such situations. I guess if you look like Cruise, it doesn’t really matter what you say. 

The reason the seduction is so important is because it’s setting up a Notorious relationship between the characters, echoing Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s oft-repeated handler/agent conflicted romance. Ethan thinks he’s recruiting Nyah for her skills as a thief (because his boss led him to believe that in the sunglasses briefing), but it turns out it’s because she’s the ex-girlfriend of the evil IMF turncoat who’s stolen a deadly virus called Chimera. Yes, they’re already repeating the IMF turncoat villain, right after Jon Voight’s evil Phelps in the first movie. This time it’s Sean Ambrose, who doubled Ethan on several assignments, and he’s played by Dougray Scott (briefly famous around the time of this movie for not being Wolverine). Ethan learns that Nyah is his ex when his boss breaks all IMF protocol and materializes in the flesh, rather than as a disembodied voice on a recording. And that flesh belongs to Anthony Hopkins (basically playing M), who instructs Ethan to use Nyah to get to Ambrose—a scenario Ethan is decidedly unhappy with, now that they’ve shared the magical automotive courtship ritual. The Hopkins exchange, unorthodox though it may be in IMF lore, does provide the film’s best line in this exchange:

“You mean it will be difficult?”


“Well, this is not Mission: Difficult, Mr. Hunt; it’s Mission: Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”

Besides that colorful bit, though, poor Hopkins must have felt embarrassed by some of the dialogue he’s saddled with (especially in a post-Basil Exposition world)—and by having to define the words he uses (“Her criminal record will be expunged… wiped out”) for the benefit of audiences to whom Woo gives zero credit.

The seduction and the Hopkins meet both take place in Seville against the backdrop of a Fire Festival. Officially it’s something about “burning their saints,” to hear Hopkins tell it, but for the sake of the movie (and Woo), it’s simply a Fire Festival. Which is the perfect setting for a movie where everything is flammable! And where style rules supremely over substance. 

From the fire festival, the film’s action moves to Australia, where it remains for the duration. (Seeing IMF agents in an Australian setting makes me think of the TV revival series that was shot there.) Ambrose has a house on Sydney Harbor where he lives with his gang of heavies (including Moulin Rouge’s Richard Roxburgh and Lost’s William Malpother—Cruise’s cousin), and the pharmaceutical company that manufactured Chimera is based there. Nyah is a virtual prisoner of Ambrose, briefly meeting Ethan (in one of the film’s best scenes) at a racetrack to pass on what she’s learned—and what she’s stolen. But in doing so, she compromises herself, and Ambrose confirms his suspicions by putting on an Ethan Hunt mask and tricking her. I’m not totally sure why she buys it, since in his utter disdain for subtlety, Woo has Cruise play the masked Ambrose as Evil Ethan, an evil smirk supplanting his usual mischievous grin, and an evil glint in his eyes replacing the regular sparkle. That’s too bad, because as written this was probably a fairly effective scene, underscoring the horror of your romantic partner being replaced by an unreliable doppelganger. 

The main problem with M:I-2 is that it’s not really a Mission: Impossible movie. Not remotely. Sure there’s an IMF team for support on hand in Sydney (Rhames back as Luthor, again handling tech, and John Polson as likable Aussie agent Billy Baird, a role he reprised in a video game but sadly never in another movie), but they don’t do anything very Impossible. All that is up to Tom Cruise. There’s no big con. Even when there is a con, pulled on pharmaceutical boss Brendan Gleeson (right out of a TV episode, in a nice touch), a masked Ethan is the only one involved! The best cons in both the show and the films involve all the team members. Woo does add a nice innovation to the masks, though. They’re now accompanied by little voice changing strips worn as stickers on the neck like Breathe-Rights for mimicking other people’s speech! That touch would remain part of the series mythology moving forward—about the only element of M:I-2 ever referenced in subsequent installments. 

Ambrose accurately assesses Ethan’s operational M.O., predicting (correctly) that “He’ll undoubtedly engage in some… aerobatic insanity… before he’ll risk harming a hair on a security guard’s head” when he, inevitably, breaks into the pharmaceutical company to destroy Chimera before Ambrose can get his hands on it. The big break-in plays like a poor retread of the CIA heist scene in the first film, right down to Hunt dangling in an ab-busting horizontal hanging position. Woo’s slow motion tricks (applied to a retracting cable) rob the scene of the real-time intensity of De Palma’s break-in. The whole heist then quickly devolves into a standard, slo-mo-happy John Woo shootout, something De Palma avoided altogether in his movie.

Zimmer’s score remains to date the weakest in the series, devolving into generic sounds during action and integrating world music (to generally better effect, barring that first car seduction) and generally terrible, of-the-moment pop songs at other times. He avoids Schifrin’s iconic theme for the most part, which is a shame because that theme arguably gives Cruise himself a run for his money as the franchise’s greatest asset. Its absence contributes greatly to this film not feeling like a Mission: Impossible movie. What I will say for Zimmer’s score is that it’s the perfect accompaniment to things catching on digital orange fire (and, I'll admit, real fire as well) in slow motion… so maybe it is ideal for this film, even if it’s far from ideal for the series. When the electric guitar-heavy arrangement of the theme does (sparingly) kick in, it should be more effective after all this deprivation, but surprisingly it doesn’t work that way coming over a decidedly lackluster action scene involving motorcycles, regular late 90s cars, a helicopter, and lots of slow motion fire. (I note the regularness of the cars because their extreme mundaneness makes it feel like an episode of late 90s television more than a mega-budget tent pole movie.) It doesn’t work at all. It doesn’t accentuate the action; somehow a theme that should work with just about any action instead seems to play counter to it, just so much background noise. The music is also enough of its era (like Eric Serra’s GoldenEye) that it combines with those regular 90s cars, that digital fire, and Woo’s already overused stylistic clichés to make M:I-2 feel far more dated than The World is not Enough or Die Another Day, the Bond films immediately bookending it. Viewed now, in fact, it’s hard to believe they’re even from the same era!

Almost as generic as Zimmer’s music, Robert Towne’s script is full of clichéd lines like “every hero needs a great villain” (repeated ad nauseum) and “You’ll stay alive! I’m not going to lose you!” (shouted by Cruise, rather than delivered), and their wretchedness is exacerbated by Woo’s overly earnest, utterly humorless direction, leaden with slow motion and artful audio dropouts. (Though his camera movement, at least, cannot be faulted, lending the film what little excitement it does manage to generate.)

The highly touted (at the time) Big Stunt, in which Ethan and Ambrose ride their motorcycles at one another and then jump off (in slow motion, of course), tackling each other in the air as the bikes supposedly collide and explode, plays now as ridiculous rather than cool. It doesn’t even make spatial or physical sense. We follow the two antagonists flying off (somehow to the side, even though their momentums were both forward), then cut back to the bikes, colliding and exploding in a whole different place, rather than directly under our combatants, as they logically should. (But of course that would kill them.) It’s stupid, and not in a cool way. Speaking of “cool,” Woo’s signature directorial flourishes, already clichés in Hollywood after being done to death previously in Hong Kong, reek of desperation (like Cruise’s Oakleys at the beginning) rather than the genuine cool they conveyed in the heyday of the director’s collaborations with Chow Yun Fat. His beloved doves may be mostly usurped by pigeons (perhaps they flew in from a John Glen Bond movie?), but their omnipresence during any explosions (or preceding Cruise into a room when a slow motion entrance is meant to be especially cool) quickly becomes laughable. Amidst the ubiquitous birds, Ethan does lots more flips (lots of flips, even when they're entirely uncalled for), all of them in slow motion. It seems like not a single action beat unfolds at normal speed. M:I-2 plays like a parody of a John Woo movie!

Woo doesn’t let up on the heavy-handed touches during breaks in the action, either, cutting to slow motion shots of an infected Nyah wandering around Sidney’s coastal cliffs looking to heroically kill herself (to avoid infecting others) as Lisa Gerrard wails wordlessly on the soundtrack. But that’s not enough. We also have to cut to a flashback of her selflessly injecting herself with the virus—as if we’d forgotten an event that occurred half an hour earlier. Honestly, Woo gives his audiences credit for nothing!

After a lot of punching in a mind-numbing machismo-fest fight on a beach between Cruise and Scott, Woo stages his version of a Sergio Leone gunfight at the finale… but of course it’s preposterously filled with slow motion shots of guns being kicked up into the air and caught. And the only reason that Ethan doesn’t get shot dead by Ambrose is because of the slow motion! Events unfold at normal speed for the handicapped Ambrose, but in slo-mo for Ethan, giving him the extra edge he needs to win the day. Instead of a battle of wits, the movie ends with a big, dumb fight on a beach. Adding insult to injury, audiences are finally subjected to Limp Bizcuit’s appalling vocals sung over Lalo Schifrin’s theme in the final moments of the credit crawl. (Though, to their credit, the band’s instrumental is pretty inspired and the wordless karaoke version is worth downloading.) It’s a bad end to a generally bad experience.

With five films to look back on now, this one doesn’t even feel like part of the same series as the others. It doesn’t feel like Cruise is playing the same character, it doesn’t feel like the IMF has the same mandate, and it doesn’t feel like the writers even tried to con the audience (in a good way), because they had so little respect for them and their abilities to follow that sort of narrative. (This may have been in response to criticism at the time that the first movie was too complex for its own good and difficult to follow… which it wasn’t.) M:I-2 is the entry you can safely skip in a franchise re-watch marathon, and be no worse off for doing so. On the bright side, the series could only go up from here!

The DVD and Blu-ray offer a few interesting features, including an alternate title sequence that’s slightly cooler than the one that they went with (but still not cool like the one in the first film or Rogue Nation). “Mission: Improbable” asks you to answer a simple trivia question about the movie in order to see the classic 2000 MTV Movie Awards bit where Ben Stiller plays Cruise’s stunt double “Tom Crooze.” This sketch is the best thing on the disc, and John Woo is the best part of the sketch, humorously summoning Stiller as, “Other Tom!” There’s a music video for Metallica’s “I Disappear,” the first (and superior) song to play over the end credits. The song doesn’t sound remotelyMission: Impossible,” but the video picks up the slack with Lars Ulrich getting chased by a biplane, James Hetfield outrunning a huge blast in a muscle car, and other spy-like situations. (It sort of reminds me of Duran Duran’s shabby spy integration in their “A View to a Kill” video, which I love.) Ironically, the video shows more self-restraint in its use of slow motion than the movie does! Finally, there’s a commentary with Woo, worth listening to for that revelation about not needing to tie in with the first movie or series.

"You and me both, buddy."

Mission Report

TV Moments: The fake virus con on McCloy (Gleeson), lots of mask business
Dangling: Straight copy of the first film, breaking into Biocyte, as well as some one-armed cliff-dangling at the beginning
Rogue Agents: The main villain, Sean Ambrose, who has his own IMF-style team
Rogue Ethan: Nope. For once, Hunt is a Company Man!
Fashion Alert: Ethan’s hairstyle, deplorably late 90s long and meticulously coiffed, seemingly for the sole purpose of volume when his head turns in slow motion... and his sunglasses, then the epitome of cool… for about six months.

Buy M:I-2 on Blu-ray on Amazon

Read my review of Mission: Impossible (1996) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.