The fifth film in the Mission: Impossible series, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, came out this Friday. The reviews are fantastic and I’m sure it will make a ton of money. That’s been the case for the whole series. Every movie has been critically and commercially successful.
The low point of the series was 2000’s Mission: Impossible 2, which only has a 57% on rottentomatoes. Still, that was the number one movie in the world that year.
The really unique and surprising part of this franchise is that there has been five different directors for the five films. No one has returned to direct a sequel. Robert Towne, who wrote the first two movies, is the only writer to work on more than one movie as well. It’s amazing they have been able to keep up such a high quality when the creative team behind the movie changes each time.
The one constant has been Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt (well, also Ving Rhames as Luther Stickel). He’s become a joke to a lot of people these past ten years but he deserves a lot of the credit for the success of this film franchise. He still really knows how to make a good action movie. Last year’s Edge of Tomorrow proved that as well.
So why do all the directors leave after making their Mission: Impossible movie? Are they too good for the series? Do they move onto bigger and better things? Who are these directors anyways?
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Director: Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma was already a well known and successful director when he made this movie. His previous credits included Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, and Carlito’s Way. He hasn’t made a good movie since Mission: Impossible though. His later movies include Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, and The Black Dahlia, all of which got poor reviews. His last two films failed to even make $100,000 at the box office. Maybe he should have stuck with the MI franchise.
Writer: David Koepp, Robert Towne
The screenplay of the first movie is credited to two writers; David Koepp and Robert Towne.
Koepp is one of the most successful scriptwriters in Hollywood. He’s written screenplays for Jurassic Park, Panic Room, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and many more. He also directed the films Ghost Town, Premium Rush, and the recent flop, Mortdecai.
Towne was also an established writer before Mission: Impossible. He was an uncredited writer for The Godfather and won an Oscar for his screenplay for Chinatown. Mission: Impossible was not his first time working with Tom Cruise either as he wrote the screenplays for Days of Thunder and The Firm.
Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
Director: John Woo
John Woo is a legendary action film director. Most of his work was done in Hong Kong where he had a huge impact on the action and martial arts genres. His first American film was the Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie, Hard Target. He then directed the movies Broken Arrow and Face/Off before Mission: Impossible 2. After that he made two forgettable films, Windtalkers and Paycheck, before returning to China.
Writer: Robert Towne, Ronald Moore, Brannon Braga
Towne is once again credited for the screenplay. This would be his last screenplay however.
Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga have a story credit for this movie. They are best known for working on Star Trek: The Next Generation and and Star Trek: Voyager together. Moore also created the Battlestar Galactica TV series.
Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)
Director: J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abrams is a well known director at this point in his career. His next film, which comes out this December, is called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He’s also directed Super 8 and the two recent Star Trek movies. Mission: Impossible 3 was his directorial debut. Before that, he wrote movies and created the TV series Felicity, Alias, and Lost.
Writer: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Abrams was also a co-writer on Mission: Impossible 3. His other screenplay credits include Regarding Henry, Joy Ride, and Armageddon.
Kurtzman and Orci are a big time writing duo. They started out writing for the Hercules TV show from the 90’s and then worked with Abrams on Alias. They then moved onto movies while still working on TV shows. Their first movie credits before Mission: Impossible 3 were The Island and The Legend of Zorro. Since then, they have written the first two Transformers, the Star Trek movies, and Cowboys & Aliens. Sadly, or not so sadly depending on how you view their work, the partners have decided to split up when it comes to movies. They’ll still work on TV together though.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Director: Brad Bird
Brad Bird is best known for his work at Disney and Pixar. He wrote and directed The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. His most recent film is Tomorrowland, which came out earlier this summer. He’s currently working on The Incredibles 2.
Writer: Andre Nemec, Josh Applebaum
Nemec and Applebaum are another writing duo that come from TV. They also wrote for Abrams’ Alias as well as the TV shows October Road, Life on Mars and Happy Town. Their most recent work is the new Ninja Turtles movie series. A sequel is due out next summer.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
It was not a surprise to see McQuarrie as the director of this new Mission: Impossible movie. He has a history with Tom Cruise. He’s only directed two other movies before, including the Tom Cruise starring Jack Reacher.
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce
McQuarrie also wrote the screenplay for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. He’s probably better known as a writer. He wrote two other Tom Cruise movies, Edge of Tomorrow and Valkyrie. He also wrote The Usual Suspects, for which he won an Oscar, and Jack the Giant Slayer.
Drew Pearce received a story credit and he also is responsible for writing Iron Man 3.
The creative team in this series is always changing yet they are all still successful. You just do not expect that to happen. Cruise has already announced plans for a Mission: Impossible 6. Will McQuarrie get another chance or will they, again, find another director and writer?