Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Although people like to complain how Hollywood has no new ideas these days, the problem was actually alive and well back in the 1990s. That was the decade that brought us films based on Saturday Night Live characters and The Beverly Hillbillies movie. But there was some good that came out of it. Tom Cruise wanted an action vehicle to star in and he picked the old 60s espionage series Mission: Impossible. It started a film franchise, but does the first film hold up?

It was just an ordinary impossible mission for Jim Phelps (Jon Voight instead of Peter Graves in the role) and his crew. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is Phelps right hand man and leading the team in the field. But before you can say double-cross, everyone on the team is killed and Ethan is the prime suspect. With the rest of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) hunting him down, Ethan turns to a set of disavowed agents to help clear his name.

The cat and mouse game begins, as Ethan goes underground recruiting his new team, while dealing with an arms dealer, breaking into the IMF headquarters and getting in and out of all kinds of scrapes. Can Ethan trust anyone on his ragtag crew, or is this one Mission: Impossible that he won’t survive? The impressive cast includes: Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave and Emiio Estevez.

Good Points:
  • A twisty story just made to build suspense
  • Solid casting helps the whole thing flow
  • De Palmas visual style is a perfect fit

Bad Points:
  • For some folks the story is a bit too twisty
  • Those looking for action will be disappointed
  • I didn’t need to see Jon Voight’s cheeks vibrating across my screen

One of the many spy films of the 1990s, but one that holds up well to repeat watching. DePalma’s sure handed direction keeps the movie suspenseful and exciting. You can’t turn your brain off if you want to follow the plot, but it’s not nearly as complicated as some folks complained. Cruise makes the character of Hunt compelling and watchable. It’s easy to see why this launched a franchise.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review. 

Mission: Impossible Reviews


  1. I'd forgotten this was 1996 -- I suppose because there always has been a more recent sequel. Is it 4 now with another in production? My favorite Jon Voight role (even though the movie was cheesy) was in Anaconda. He looked more like snake-like than the fx snake.

    1. Yeah 4 total. I'm going to attempt to give all of the mini-reviews. Now that MI:2 is on Netflix download, I can revisit it.

      Voight is hilarious in "Anaconda". I agree with you, his more scary than the snake. And his re-appearance at the end makes you jump and laugh at the same time.

  2. I remember seeing this at the cinema and being somewhat disappointed. I think because it did seem more like a vehicle for Tom Cruise, and less a group or team effort. It did have some cool effects though, and I've thought about revisiting it lately to see how I feel about it upon a second viewing.

    1. I say give it another shot. I really think DePalma's direction makes this one of the best of the series. And I've been watching the old television series, and of all four of the current films, this first is the closest in style and format to the original television series. Even the score by Danny Elfman is very simple and rhythmic, which is certainly in keeping with the almost minimalist supporting music in the television series - aside from that gangbuster of an opening theme.