Ric’s Netflix Picks: “Missions: Impossible”

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Can you do the impossible?

No, but Ethan Hunt can.

The Mission: Impossible franchise, spanning two TV series and four movies with a fifth in the works, is clever and action-packed. Chronicling the adventures of the Impossible Mission Force, a clandestine espionage agency, these are tales of intrigue and suspense. Only some are currently available on Netflix Instant and my mission, should I choose to accept it, will be to review those for you.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

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Mission: Impossible, the first in the series, is not available on Netflix Instant, but I am going to assume that you have seen it. The film focuses on Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), second-in-command to the TV series’ Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), as he tries to prevent the Non-Official Cover (NOC) list from being intercepted.

Featuring Vanessa Redgrave, Emilo Estevez, and Ving Rhames as recurring character Luther Stickell, this is a must see. It was kind of a big deal when it came out and is a ’90s spy-action classic. Find it somewhere, watch it somehow.

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

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When a deadly virus gets stolen, Ethan Hunt is tasked with recovering it. This mission will prove difficult as his adversary, rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), can predict his every move. Teaming up with Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), Ambrose’s former girlfriend, Hunt must prevent the virus from being released and bring it back under the control of the IMF.

Easily the weakest film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible II should still be watched to bridge the gap to later films. Look for a small cameo by Anthony Hopkins.

Rating:

2.4 out of 5

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

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Ethan Hunt, now retired from the field and training IMF recruits, is called upon for one final mission. His protégé, Lindsey Farris (Kerri Russell), has been captured by a classically villainous arms dealer, Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). From this daring rescue comes a twisted tale of double agents and stolen identities. Hunt must determine who he can trust in his search for the mysterious “Rabbit’s Foot.”

Wildly better than the previous effort, Mission: Impossible III shines with the right balance of action and emotion. Making his first of two appearances in the film series is the surprisingly well-cast Simon Pegg (The World’s End). The film also features Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) and Laurence Fishburne (The Martix Trilogy), yet it is Philip Seymour Hoffman (Catching Fire) who steals the show with his performance. Also, lookout for a quick scene with Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad).

Rating:

4.0 out of 5

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

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After returning to active duty with the IMF, Ethan Hunt takes on a dangerous mission in Russia. When the mission goes awry, Ethan and his team find themselves on the outside as they take the blame for the damage. The “Ghost Protocol” is initiated and, as is warned during every mission presentation scene, the entire IMF becomes disavowed and branded as terrorists. Now they must fight against the odds, prevent World War III, and prove their innocence.

Easily the best of the three films available on Netflix Instant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, a.k.a. Mission: Impossible IV, has a great mix of precisely-paced action and comedic timing. The cast rounds out with Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner (The Avengers), Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Josh Holloway (Lost), Anil Kapoor (24) and Tom Wilkinson (The Kennedys) in supporting roles. A second Breaking Bad actor makes a cameo in the franchise in the form of Lavell Crawford.

Rating:

4.2 out of 5

If the modern film series gets you hooked, be sure to check out the original Mission Impossible television series, also available on Netflix. Personally, I have not yet watched it, but it is on my Instant Queue. The TV and film series are connected by the character Jim Phelps (Peter Graves), although there is some controversy surrounding his inclusion. Many of the actors from the original show have been very critical of the film series and do not consider the films to be a continuation of the TV show. Watch it and decide for yourself.

The_Great_ParisAlso look for a recurring role by Leonard Nimoy (the original Mr. Spock) as The Great Paris, in the later seasons.

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