Mission Impossible Rogue NationEvery Friday for the last few weeks we’ve been looking at a different cinematic classic featuring a certain Tom Cruise. Past editions have focussed on Top Gun, Jerry Maguire, and Minority Report, now our attention turns to his one franchise, the Mission Impossible series.

Tom Cruise had his first taste of fame in the 1980’s and, unlike many of his peers, has never really left the spotlight. His body of work features an impressive 38 films giving him the opportunity to work with many acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Cameron Crowe, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, and Stanley Kubrick. He’s also done pretty much every genre under the sun, giving him a wide ranging show-reel. He’s also been the first actor to get his own Sky movies channel devoted purely to films he stars in (available now for a limited time). This week sees his latest venture Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation released. This will be the fifth film in the series which shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

Mission ImpossibleThe first film in the action franchise was released way back in 1996 and was a re-imagining of the iconic television series of the same name, the one with the self-destructing messages.

When audiences first watched the film it was thought that Emilio Estevez was going to be the main character. Of course he dies rather swiftly, leaving TC to take over the reins. Estevez, much like Tom Cruise in Young Guns, doesn’t even get a credit for his part. At the time Cruise was well and truly on his way to the top, and this role, more than any up to that point, showcased that the star could handle a big franchise.

The film is synonymous with that famous aerial hanging scene. It’s been parodied in pretty much everything ever. It wasn’t a particularly easy scene to shoot however, as Cruise kept on hitting his head on the floor. Take after take was ruined until he had the idea of putting coins in his shoes for balance. Smart guy.

The first film was heavily focussed on twisty espionage elements, and it wasn’t until the second film that the action portion of the film was ramped up; unsurprising considering it was John Woo behind the lens. The sequel gave Cruise his first taste of high octane stunts, something that has now become his calling card.

His first stunt came during the film’s opening sequence, showcasing Ethan Hunt enjoying a spot of rock climbing. The sequence was filmed at Dead Horse Point in Utah with Cruise doing most of the work himself with minimal cable assistance. Later, during the knife fight with Dougray Scott, Cruise insisted that a real knife be used. Having watched the film you’ll know just how close that knife comes to piercing his eye, but Cruise trusted his fellow actor. Thankfully though, the health and safety team made a cable which was carefully measured so that it stopped a whole quarter inch from his eyeball, and that there were no accidents.

Sadly MI:2 is seen by many as the weakest in the series, with critics complaining it was riddled with continuity errors and plot holes. John Woo‘s original cut of the film was over three hours long, and the chopped hour or so is glaringly obvious, but the film still excited audiences enough for a third movie. Plus you’ve got to love that Metallica and Limp Bizkit soundtrack. Even better than the soundtrack though is the MTV Movie Awards spot to promote the film which featured Ben Stiller as ‘Tom Crooze’, Tom’s delusional stunt double. Give the video a watch for yourself below.

After two of course came three, this time directed by J J Abrams with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the bad guy. Again Cruise performed the majority of his own stunts, but this time he didn’t come away injury free. He managed to crack his ribs when he turned too quickly. So he can scale buildings and cliffs with ease, but turning around he hasn’t quite mastered.

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The third film introduced a couple of new cast members, Michelle Monaghan and Simon Pegg who would both return for future films in the series. Pegg was seen by many as an odd addition to the cast given that he was most well known for his comedic roles, but he injected some much needed fun into proceedings.

A fourth film, Ghost Protocol, was announced with rumours that it would not feature Ethan Hunt and therefore no Tom Cruise. Instead the film would focus on William Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner another agent and replacement for Hunt. Fortunately Cruise wasn’t finished with Hunt yet and returned, although the film made sure to set it up so that Renner could take over the Mission Impossible mantle at any time.

Mission Impossible 4The big stunt this time around was Cruise’s biggest to (that) date. He scaled the Burj Khalifa tower, the tallest building in the world, all on his own without the use of a stunt double. He insisted on doing this so that the audience could see it was really him. It also opened director Brad Bird up to a wider variety of camera angles as he had no need to try and cover up a stunt double.

Ghost Protocol made $693 million at the box office worldwide and was the highest-grossing in the series, proving that it wasn’t going stale any time soon. The series has gone from strength to strength; yes the man in the director’s chair has changed each time, but Cruise has remained and has crafted Ethan Hunt into a memorable hero who will stand the test of time alongside the likes of Bond.

Which brings us back around to this week’s fifth instalment Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Check out our review now and find out why we think it’s the best in the series yet.

Miss one of our earlier Cruise Classics and want to catch up? Click here for the full catalogue.