Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mission: Impossible (1996) Film Review
I first saw Mission: Impossible when I was 15 and I didn't have a Scooby what the hell was going on. In retrospect, it's not that muddled. In comparison to the dumbed down MiII, it stands out as a better example of a movie made by a director who doesn't underestimate the audience.
Brian De Palma is known to be a wildly inconsistent filmmaker. From the overrated Carrie to the underrated Snake Eyes, the classic Untouchables and the downright hideous Mission To Mars and Scarface, he's been through just about everything. But Mission: Impossible was his first true mega-hit. Movies from TV shows are a dime a dozen these days and are rarely taken seriously - I mean, look at trash like I Spy, Starsky & Hutch, S.W.A.T, or The Dukes Of Hazard - but M:I is actually supposed to be a continuation of the show, rather than a spin-off.
Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt (no, not cockney rhyming slang), an IMF agent, whose entire team is killed in a phoney sting operation in Prague. Accused of being a traitor, he legs it before they can nab him and assembles a gang of rogue operatives to find out who the REAL traitor is. Many double-crosses and double-double crosses ensue.
For those who cannot follow the plot there are some really good set pieces, with enough tension and excitement to carry the movie. You'll know by now the dangling scene in the top-secret room, but best of all is the high-speed train rocketing through the English countryside. While other directors might use this as a chance to show off, De Palma keeps it as realistic as possible, which makes it infinitely cooler.
Parts of the film may seem a bit dated now and it's weird seeing Cruise look like a little boy, even though he was already 33. He even sounds different. And what kind of super-villain uses floppy discs? They might have tried something a bit more high-tech, surely?
The M:I franchise could be a helluva lot better, I suppose. The second film was terrible and the third merely average. But they're still better than the last few Bond outings, though it ain't quite up to the rugged quality of the Jason Bourne movies.
At least, it got off to a good start. But can the world tolerate Cruise long enough to ever get a fourth made?Reviewed on: 08 May 2006