Mission: Impossible (1996)

Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Bèart, and Jean Reno

With the 4th Mission Impossible film coming out next month, I figured I could drop my hipster status for a little while and, y’know, actually watch this supposed blockbuster. It’s one of those films that, if you come out and say you haven’t seen it, people will look at you as if you’ve developed a horrifying face disease and more or less demand you go home and watch it. Right now. Ignore all Stop signs.

The plot:
Ethan Hunt (Cruise) works as a secret agent alongside his team of specialists. During a mission to apprehend a terrorist in the middle of a theft, Ethan’s entire team are wiped out, leaving him as the sole survivor. It is soon revealed that the purpose of the entire mission was to hunt down a mole hidden within in the organization. On the run, Ethan needs to find a way to discover the real mole’s identity before he is forced to take the fall.

Let’s imagine, for just a second, that you are one of the few people, like me, who has/had not seen this film. What do you go in expecting?

  • Tom Cruise on a wire
  • An incredibly iconic theme song
  • Tom Cruise  looking badass while shooting people
  • Explosions
  • Tom Cruise running away from shit
  • …like explosions

The overall theme, as you can see, is Tom Cruise, and for good reason. This is his film, his performance is the reason people find him and this film synonymous. You can say ‘scientology’ or ‘Oprah’ as many times as you like, but there is no getting away from the fact that he is in fact a terrific actor.

Ethan is a likeable character, despite his flaws. He comes across as somewhat cocky and arrogant, but this remains endearing. He’s a guy you just want to root for. However, there are layers to this character. His reaction to his teams deaths are pretty powerful, and the time he spends between this actually happening and the formulating of a plan are one of the highlights of the film.

However, it is the action scenes that people are going to walk away remembering more than anything else. This is a film that was released during the True Lies era. The lines are cheesy, the action is ridiculous, but it’s just so much fun, nobody even cares.
(“I don’t care if they don’t exist in 1968, Sylvester Stallone needs to fight a dinosaur in this scene! And throw in some robots dammit!”)

From the opening espionage sequence to the 100 mile an hour climax featuring a helicopter in a train tunnel, there isn’t a hope of getting bored while watching this. It’s just one set piece after another, all dealt with in the same somewhat light-hearted manner of the TV series. The infiltration scene, with the iconic wire drop, is immensely enjoyable, while retaining dizzying heights of tension.

It’s not perfect of course. It has an incredibly convoluted plot, one that revels in double crosses, twists and turns. This somewhat detracts from the overall film, but is easily forgiven…largely because it is easily ignored. Some people might also try to argue that some of the effects look a little dated, but these are also the kind of people who will insist that the best movie ever made is a little heard of Swedish film that you’ve probably never heard of called The Moose is my Cousin, or something similarly ridiculous.

It is difficult to review such an iconic film and then try to say something that hasn’t been said already. Cruise carries the film, and the intense action allows for little time to breath. technophiles will be delighted with the amount of gadgets (or at least they would be if they were watching this film in the 90s). It has flaws that are apparent when you take a step back, but overall, this is an immensely enjoyable experience.

Awful Rating: 8/10

“Wake up, Claire! Jim’s dead! He’s dead! They’re all dead! ” – Ethan Hunt

Published in: on November 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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