Impossible Mission Force video essay: Sean Witzke and Grantland give a magisterial analysis of the Mission Impossible series (VIDEO).

How Four Very Different Directors Left Their Mark on the Mission: Impossible Franchise

How Four Very Different Directors Left Their Mark on the Mission: Impossible Franchise

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Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 1 2015 5:14 PM

How Four Very Different Directors Left Their Mark on the Mission: Impossible Franchise

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Most action film franchises, upon locking down a formula and a star, cycle through an array of directors whose job is merely not to mess things up. Not so with the Mission: Impossible series. Each of the Impossible movies features a distinct directorial imprint, and Sean Witzke, as part of Grantland’s excellent Tom Cruise week, has made an erudite video essay that notes the influences Brian de Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and Brad Bird brought to bear on the series’ first four installments.

Of course, there’s another auteur at work here: Tom Cruise. Cruise handpicked each of the franchise’s directors, and as Witzke notes the series is as much a study of “how a movie star ages”—or, given Cruise’s still-limber stunts, how a movie star doesn’t—as it is the story of a spy doing impossible things over and over again.

Sharan Shetty is on the editorial staff of the New Yorker. You can follow him on Twitter