It may have escaped your attention, but more Mission: Impossible movies are incoming. Yes, that means more seat-gripping action and also more sighs of despair as we realise how mundane our lives our compared to that of Tom Cruise.
Scroll down to discover everything we know so far about Mission: Impossible 7.
1. It continues the adventures of Ethan Hunt
Tom Cruise's daredevil IMF agent has faced more than his fair share of hair-raising escapes since making his movie debut in 1996. From confronting a helicopter in the Channel Tunnel to invading the Vatican and scaling the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, Hunt (and, by extension, Cruise) defines the word fearless.
The Mission: Impossible franchises is one of those rare ones that has improved over time. In particular, the most recent entries, Rogue Nation and Fallout, were greeted with critical acclaim and box office success. In fact, the latter movie defied all the odds to emerge as the best, and most financially successful, movie in the series so far, defying any notion of diminishing returns. Fallout pushed the envelope with its stuntwork, particularly the climactic helicopter face-off that reinvested audiences in the wonder of practical effects and stunts. The scope and scale of the movie pushed it to a mighty $791 million worldwide – so where could film #7 possibly go from here?
2. It's written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Since joining the series with 2015's Rogue Nation, writer-director McQuarrie has breathed fresh life into the series. An Oscar-winner for his twisty Usual Suspects script, McQuarrie has expertly balanced the humour, gadgets and watch-from-behind-the-eyes set-pieces demanded from a Mission: Impossible movie. Collaborator Cruise is clearly emboldened by McQuarrie's approach: no other director in the series has helmed more than one film. Past filmmakers have ranged from Brian De Palma and John Woo to J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird.
McQuarrie's desire to push the boundaries of stuntwork has led to critical acclaim, particularly in an era where CGI is routinely used to paper over the cracks. Variety's Peter Debruge singled the director out for praise in his Fallout review: "McQuarrie clearly believes in creating coherent set pieces: His combat scenes are tense, muscular, and clean, shot and edited in such a way that the spatial geography makes sense."
So, how will McQuarrie one-up the helicoper chase/cliff-top fight from the end of Fallout? Let's just say, we're glad not to be shouldering that pressure.
3. A familiar Mission: Impossible face will return
Way back in 1996's Mission: Impossible, directed by Brian De Palma, rogue agent Ethan Hunt came face to face with IMF director Kittridge, played by Henry Czerny. Kittridge was set up as an antagonist, out to capture Hunt for allegedly being a mole within the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). Of course, everyone was being played by the real enemy, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), who had faked his own death after executing the rest of Hunt's team.
It's been confirmed that Czerny will be returning as Kittridge in Mission: Impossible 7. That makes it the first movie in the series to establish any kind of continuity with the very first movie.
"I've been thinking about Kittridge going all the way back to Rogue Nation," Christopher McQuarrie told the Empire Podcast. "I'm much more interested in finding something great for that character to do. Early in this process I had an inkling that there could be a place for Kittridge – the tone of the movie, the shape of the movie lent itself to that.
"I realised, 'Kittridge has got to be in this scene'. "I had written it not knowing who was in it, and then suddenly Kittridge came into it and the scene was transformed, it was really fun. I got to call Henry Czerny and say, 'You're in! Will you be in it?' He was great about it."
4. Several new cast members are involved
You can chalk up the usual suspects: Simon Pegg as Benji, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, Ving Rhames as Luther and Vanessa Kirby as the White Widow. In addition to those familiar faces, several new ones will be joining the Mission: Impossible crew. These are Captain America's Hayley Atwell (playing, in Christopher McQuarrie's words, a "destructive force of nature"), Guardians of the Galaxy's Pom Klementieff, Ozark's Esai Morales (who replaced a departing Nicholas Hoult) and Joker's Shea Wigham.
5. Production is set to resume very soon
Principal photography on Mission: Impossible 7 was set to begin in early 2020 in Venice. However, the global outbreak of coronavirus put production on hold, as the worldwide film industry came to a virtual standstill. The crew later moved to the UK, building a vast set that replicated key Italian locations, including Rome. Several months later, actor Simon Pegg has been giving details about shooting a blockbuster in a post-Covid-19 world.
Pegg told Variety that the film will resume shooting in September: "That will begin with the outdoor stuff... That feels fairly doable, and obviously there will be precautions put in place.” He added: "People that are involved in any close proximity stuff, it will have to be determined that they’re safe to do that. I don’t know what the testing situation is, how that works, or whether they’ll be able to be tested regularly."
First assistant director Tommy Gormley elaborated further: "We hope to restart in September. We hope to visit all the countries we planned to. We hope to do a big chunk of it back in the U.K. on the backlot and in the studio... This is our challenge. We are not a chamber piece movie. We do spectacle, and that is what people expect of us.
“If we have the protocols in place and we break down all the procedures very carefully…we will get it going again. Some things are very challenging such as stunt scenes, crowd scenes etc. but we can’t do a Mission: Impossible movie and not have a fight scene or car scenes in it.”
6. It will be followed by an eighth movie
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to embrace the thought of another Ethan Hunt thrill-ride after this one. Back in January 2019, Tom Cruise announced on Twitter that Mission: Impossible 7 would be shooting back to back with the eighth film in the series, essentially making them two halves of a wider story.
Summer 2021 and Summer 2022 pic.twitter.com/V6SNvZx2La— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) January 15, 2019
"The ending of the first movie snapped into place," Christopher McQuarrie told the Light the Fuse podcast. "We knew what the ending was and we knew what the beginning was. And now I had these two sequences, which means, I’ve got 40 minutes of Mission: Impossible 8 figured out.”
Of course, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the release dates in Cruise's tweet have now changed. Nevertheless, the prospect of a wide-ranging narrative arc spanning two separate episodes still stands. McQuarrie explained: "When we went into making Fallout, I said to Tom, ‘I really want to make this more of an emotional journey for [Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt]. Going into this, I said, ‘I want to take what we learned from Fallout and apply it to every character in the movie. I want everyone to have an emotional arc. … I just want the movie to have more feeling across the board.”
7. Both the seventh and eighth movies have new release dates
After much juggling, Mission: Impossible 7 has moved from summer 2021 to a new slot on 19th November 2021. And the eighth instalment will follow a year later on 4th November 2022. That means there's plenty of time to be like Ethan Hunt, and commit to that bungee jump you've been putting off.
Planning to watch Mission: Impossibles 7 and 8 on the biggest screen you can find? Let us know @Cineworld.