There was a time, back when I was a kid, when I would get home from school in the afternoon, let myself in, set myself up with graham crackers and a tall glass of milk, settle into the bean-bag chair and watch Mission: Impossible.
From this distance I don’t remember all the circumstances that combined to create this quiet time between me and Peter Graves, but it was special. Each show ended with some bad guy walking through a door, knowing they had absolutely fucked themselves, while the MI team drove away in a nondescript van, peeling off latex masks and sharing a chuckle.
The beauty of the whole thing was that after the success of a ludicrously complex plan, that required flawless performances by a group of spies and actors with varied skills, Mr. Phelps and his team would vanish. Even then, the bad guy couldn’t be sure they ever existed.
The episodes didn’t end with shooting, or even confessions. They ended with moments. That’s how you write a story.
Many years after that, yet many years ago, when I heard they were making a Mission: Impossible movie, I was very excited. This was gong to be MY kind of thriller. Plenty of action and even more intrigue, when half a dozen people work in perfect harmony to achieve psychological dominance and destroy an asshole with minimum outward fuss. Winning a quiet war.
Nope. Just another superhero movie. No ensemble. No mental game. As antithetical to the source material as I, Robot was (well, almost — I, Robot was filmed on opposites day). But there’s money in the franchise; they keep making more. Tonight I saw a promotion for another Mission: Impossible superhero flick, this one shamelessly bearing “part one” in the title.
Honestly, I don’t begrudge them the franchise. They are making movies people who are not me will pay to watch. What angers me is that they burned the name, without paying it any respect. Now it will not be possible to make a Mission: Impossible movie true to the source and use the name to sell it.