Is 'Mission: Impossible 6' Necessary?

Production has halted as Tom Cruise and Paramount face a pay dispute.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation'

Ethan Hunt's next mission has been put on pause.

Sources on Friday told The Hollywood Reporter that Tom Cruise is looking for backend compensation similar to what he's getting on Universal's The Mummy reboot, so preproduction on Mission: Impossible 6 has been halted due to the star's salary dispute with Paramount. 

As the situation unfolds, it's worth looking back at what the franchise as a whole has meant to the action genre.

Mission: Impossible is considered perhaps the most consistently good action franchise of all time, with it achieving the rare feat of getting better with age since its 1996 debut.

The James Bond pics — the gold standard for spy franchises — are known for their ups and downs, with even Daniel Craig's popular run including hits (Casino Royale, Skyfall), misses (Quantum of Solace) and merely satisfactory installments (Spectre).

Over its 20-year history, Mission: Impossible is four for five, with Mission: Impossible II (2000) considered the only misfire (but still a box-office hit). That's a pretty remarkable record. Fast and Furious is the only ongoing American action franchise that can rival Mission: Impossible, and though beloved by fans, it took until Furious Five (2011) for it to find its footing in its current incarnation, which has seen it soar to new heights of critical and commercial success.

Die Hard, another long-running action franchise, has been criticized for Bruce Willis' John McClane going from ordinary New York cop performing extraordinary duties in the 1988 original to invulnerable superhero by the time Live Free and Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) rolled around. 

Ethan Hunt, on the other hand, isn't a superman. The stunts have gotten more daring, but not more improbable, and the action isn't (just) dependent on explosions and gunfire. Last year's Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation pushed Hunt literally to the limits of human endurance, with him ultimately succumbing to the fact that his brain needs oxygen and passing out, nearly dying. That acknowledgement that Hunt does have physical limits would never make it into the 2000s-era Die Hard movies. To be sure, this is an action movie, so suspension of disbelief is key, but the stunts are also rooted in reality, with Cruise famously said to perform many of them himself. 

Mission: Impossible delivers what no other action franchise can — the promise that the ante will be raised with every installment (who doesn't want to see how Cruise tops his plane stunt from the last movie?) without the action being dumbed-down or mired with CGI. 

Paramount initially was eyeing a late 2017 release for Mission: Impossible 6, with Rogue Nation's Christopher McQuarrie back to direct. The film is currently undated.

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