When I first saw the headlines that Paramount Pictures was moving the release date for Mission Impossible 5 I naturally assumed they were pushing it back. I hadn’t really heard anything about the movie since Christopher McQuarrie was announced as director and Paramount laid claim to December 23, 2015 as a release date. Then Star Wars: The Force Awakens picked December 16, 2015 for its release date, and after that it was only a matter of time before MI5 (Yes, I am going to call it that from now on even though MI5 is also the name of the British intelligence agency) ran away screaming. Sure, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol set a franchise high in worldwide gross ($694 million) when it came out in December 2011, but this is Star Wars we’re talking about. Unless Force Awakens turns out to be a Phantom Menace-sized turd it is going to be huge. Surely MI5 was just going to retreat safely into 2016. Nope. Paramount actually moved it up nearly 5 months to July 31, 2015.
Wait, what? Movies of this scale simply do not move forward like this very often, a couple of weeks, sure, but not 5 months! However, what stunned me was to see Paramount claim their decision was prompted by the fact that MI5 is simply going to get done earlier than expected. I didn’t even know MI5 had started filming yet! I’ve clearly fallen totally out of the loop on this movie.
Quick, to the Wikipedia machine! What do we know about Mission Impossible 5?:
The Director – Christopher McQuarrie, who previously directed The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher and co-wrote The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, The Tourist, Jack the Giant Slayer, Edge of Tomorrow, and The Stanford Prison Experiment, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He replaces Brad Bird, who moved on from Pixar to make his live-action debut with Ghost Protocol and is now on to Tomorrowland. This is in keeping with the franchise’s tradition of changing directors after each film, Brian De Palma for the first one, John Woo for the second one, and JJ Abrams for the third one.
The Writers – Drew Pearce, aka the guy who angered the comic book world with his version of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, and Will Staples, making his film debut after writing for video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Need for Speed: Rivals.
The Cast – These films are weird in that they usually only have the loosest of connections to their predecessors. So, just because Ghost Protocol ends with Tom Cruise’s team consisting of Simon Pegg, Vingh Rames, Jeremy Renner, and Paula Patton along with the confirmation that his wife played by Michelle Monaghan is not actually dead doesn’t necessarily mean that MI5 will follow that exactly. Right now, Cruise, Pegg, Rames, and Renner are confirmed to be parts of the new film’s cast with new roles being filled by Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules, The White Queen) and Simon McBurney (Rev, The Borgias, Kreacher’s voice in Harry Potter). They’ve given a major role to a Chinese actress named Zhang Jingchu (Rush Hour 3), undoubtedly a concession to the Chinese market that embraced Ghost Protocol so enthusiastically, grossing $101m, far and away the film’s leading overseas market. Alec Baldwin’s apparent retirement from acting will have to wait as he is in the film as the head of the CIA, and Sean Harris (The Borgias, Prometheus) is on board as the villain.
The Plot – No idea
The Production – They started filming in Vienna in mid-August, shifted to Morocco for all of September, and have been in London ever since October. Apparently, Tom Cruise came dang close to getting hit by a double-decker bus while filming scenes in London in December. Luckily for him, the bus honked and swerved, giving him time to retreat to the curb and to safety.
That doesn’t actually seem like a lot, but I actually prefer going into a Mission Impossible movie knowing next to nothing about what to expect. I don’t particularly care what happens to Ethan Hunt or his wife. I have no real attachment to any of the characters, although my fondness for Simon Pegg kind of inherently makes me at least care if his character dies or not. I could not tell you what the main plot of Ghost Protocol was. Oh, I’ve seen it and enjoyed it, but the actual story and emotions covered in that movie never really stuck with me. I mostly just remember that Jeremy Renner’s character was super shady until he wasn’t, and that Tom Cruise did this because he’s a damn crazy person (a certain buzzy Sundance documentary about Scientology might make that joke seem more literal):
As Forbes’ Scott Mendelson argued, the first two installments in this franchise “probably represented the last time a star-driven, ‘real world’ action franchise picture was considered the preemptive summer box office champion before the wizards and superheroes took over the joint.” Ghost Protocol was the franchise’s financial and creative rebound, so much so that it’s kind of surprising that a sequel has taken this long to arrive. Of course, now it will arrive nearly 5 months earlier, and while I’m not overly interested to see where the story takes the characters next I really can’t wait to see what crazy stunts they pull off this time.
What about you? Am I giving this franchise too little credit? Do you actually care about Ethan Hunt and his rotating bunch of friends even if the women in the group only seem to show up for one movie? Or do you just want to see if they can top that skyscraper sequence from Ghost Protocol? Or both? Let me know in the comments.