Mission: Impossible (1996) Poster

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Exploding Bubblegum
tieman6427 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Fashions fade, style is eternal." - Yves Laurent

Filled with super-slick visuals and impeccable compositions, this big-budget thriller looks better with each passing year. While the 90's action movies of Cameron, Spielberg, Donner, Harlin, the Wachowskis and the Scotts have started to lose their shine, De Palma's exercise in mainstream mayhem ages like fine wine (or maybe just good grape juice).

It's all about style, of course. Gloriously wide compositions, extreme close ups, canted angles, split-diopters, whip-pans, point of view shots and four slick set pieces...watching this film is like attending a masterclass in camera movement.

De Palma's not just good with surfaces, he's obsessed with them. Villains are dressed in 1950's PI/spy coats, the heist scenes outdo Dassin's "Riffi" and Melville's "Bob The Gambler", the film is shot in luxurious black and whites and all the while De Palma's camera glides from one perfect composition to the next. To get this kind of fluid camera work, this seamlessness, you'd have to turn to Pixar and their virtual cameras.

Of course, the irony is that for a director so obsessed with achieving perfect images, De Palma is constantly reminding us how fallible images are. All his tics and themes are here, albeit in a condensed fashion: truth needing to be reassembled, the unreliability of the image, the camera that lies, voyeurs (the first shot is a close up of a digital screen), conspiracies, false identities, doppelgangers, the need to reconstruct the film's opening murder etc.

The only thing missing are some operatic sex scenes, which were actually filmed but deleted when producer Tom Cruise, not wanting to chase away the teen audience, had all romantic scenes with super-lush French actress Emmanuelle Béart removed.

Author James Ellroy (sometimes he feels like the only other person on the planet who actually loves De Palma's "Black Dahlia") perfectly describes De Palma's style when commenting on the director's adaptation of his novel: "De Palma's films circumscribe worlds of obsession. They are rigorously and suffocatingly formed. No outer world exists during their time frame. Colors flare oddly. Movement arrests you. You forfeit control and see only what he wants you to see. He manipulates you in the sole name of passion. He understands relinquishment. The film-goer needs to succumb. His films are authoritative. He controls response firmly. His hold tightens as his stories veer into chaos. He stands and falls, coheres and decoheres, succeeds and errs behind passion. He was the ideal artist to film The Black Dahlia."

Later he says: "Bucky Bleichert is a fictional cop and a doppelganger/writer-filmmaker. He's the man writing out the great adventure of his life and the voyeur viewing sex with a camera. Bleichert is me. Bleichert is De Palma. He's standing outside momentous events. He's lost in scrutiny. He wants to control. He wants to capitulate. His inner life is near chaotic. He needs to impose external order to countermand his mental state. It's Homicide Investigation as Art. He needs to take malignancy and render it something his own."

And then: "The Black Dahlia spins off the axis of De Palma and Hartnett. It's a three-mode constellation: thriller/noir/historical romance. The design is near-German Expressionist. It's L.A./it's not L.A./it's L.A. seen by Dahlia fiends in extremis. The film commands you to savour every scene and revel in your visual entrapment. This textual richness symbolises the Dahlia's hold on us. We can never look away. She won't let us."

8/10 – While "Casualties of War's" camera shifted stance with each vertical plane (underground, plateau, hill, bridge), here De Palma's camera changes stance when we jump from Prague to London to the Channel Crossing that links them. Complaints about silly plots and actors are valid but inconsequential. This is about De Palma's camera, Tom Cruise a prop that need only turn up and look appropriately intense.

Worth three viewings.
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8/10
Very clever thriller
benturkalj18 May 2006
For those who have not seen the original Mission Impossible, it is a real shame. While the other flicks offer plenty of explosions and cool action sequences, the original remains the best for it's interesting plot twists, some decent acting, and a well developed element of suspense that's lacking in the later pictures.

To reveal any of the plot would be a disservice: it certainly has some pretty interesting occurrences that should be seen for full effect. What really makes this great though is De Palma's direction. Unlike the later flicks, key scenes are drawn out: there is a real Spense of suspense that is rarely achieved. Three key action scenes come to mind, and there all extremely cool: it's just a shame that Criuse couldn't enlist the services of more experienced director's later in the franchise.

A memorable, well executed thriller.
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8/10
A tense thriller that is not (despite popular belief) impossible to follow.
THFC8 December 1998
I would like to reiterate what "Anonymous of Derby, England" said about this film (20th November). The fact that so many people have complained that they "didn't get it" is proof that our brains are being atrophied by so many movies that do all our thinking for us. I had no trouble in following the plot and found the fact that I actually had to concentrate and think things through quite refreshing. Okay, so a lot of the stunts were a bit far fetched but what does it matter when they were so entertaining? After all, it is only a movie; nobody expects us to believe that these things could really happen any more than they expect us to believe that King Kong really existed or that there's a Volcano ready to errupt in L.A. Besides, with the inspired casting of David Schneider as the train driver, Brian de Palma must have had his tongue in his cheek for at least some of the time. He's created a masterful boy's own adventure story, an original "ripping yarn" and that brilliant comic touch added to this perfectly.

"Mission Impossible" is a visual and cerebral treat. Tom Cruise is excellent as Ethan, Vanessa Redgrave makes a superb villian and Jean Reno is watchable in ANYTHING he does. The only weak link is Emmanuelle Beart, who did a good job of looking beautiful but very little else. What a shame Kristin Scott Thomas couldn't have taken a more central role; she makes the gorgeous but bland Beart look like a waste of space.

I give this 8 out of ten and it would have been more if it wasn't for Beart's character.
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7/10
It's not Impossible to like this film
rparham8 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
With the trend that began in the early 1990's to adapt old television series into major motion pictures, Mission: Impossible was one of the many added to the list. Premiering in the late 1960's, Mission: Impossible was hit series for CBS for seven seasons and brought actors such as Peter Graves and Martin Landau to popular stardom. In 1996, superstar Tom Cruise collaborated with director Brian de Palma to bring the modern film version to life, and despite some critical drubbing at the time, Mission: Impossible proves to be one of the better television to motion picture adaptations to grace the screen to date.

Mission: Impossible, the series, was very much in the same mold of the modern police procedural Law & Order: it was almost exclusively plot driven. Sure, the same characters reappeared episode after episode, but none of them were ever fleshed out or significantly developed. The series was exclusively interested in telling it's tale of a team of U.S. spies using subterfuge, theatrics and make-up to confuse and confound their mark and obtain their goal. With Tom Cruise in the lead of the film version, it seemed unlikely that this format would hold, and while the film does give a little more depth to it's leads, it is still pushed along by the tale more than the people.

The film opens in Prague, where the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) have gathered to perform their latest mission: to prevent a double-agent from selling off a list of the secret identities of covert agents operating in Europe. The team is comprised of leader Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), key man Ethan Hunt (Cruise), electronics expert Jack Harmon (Emilio Estevez), Sarah Davies (Kristin Scott-Thomas), Hannah Williams (Ingeborga Dapkunaite), and Jim's wife, Claire (Emmauelle Beart). Part way through the mission, things begin to go horribly wrong, and before the night is out, all members of the team except Hunt are killed by an apparent assassin. Hunt contacts the head of his division, Eugene Kittredge (Henry Czerny) and discovers that the whole mission was designed to capture a suspected mole in the agency, and since Hunt was the only one who survived, he is labeled the mole.

Hunt escapes capture and is determined to prove his innocence. With the discovery that Claire did not die during the mission, Hunt makes contact with an arms dealer named Max (Vanessa Redgrave) who the real mole was dealing with and makes his own deal: he will secure the information that Max wants if Max promises to deliver the real mole to him. Hunt recruits former members of the IMF who were discovered during previous missions and had to be "disavowed' by the U.S. These include super hacker Luther Stickle (Ving Rhames) and helicopter pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno). Together, the group plans their heist, but things quickly become complicated and not everything with this whole operation is as it seems.

At the time of it's release, Mission: Impossible was criticized for being so complicated as to be undecipherable, and while it is indeed complex, it is not impossibly so. The film does weave a complicated plot and requires the audience's attention, but that is actually one of the film's strengths. It doesn't proceed in an entirely normal manner, hitting all the usual beats you would expect from a Mission: Impossible story, so while it follows the formula to a degree, it also manages to stand that formula on it's head. If the film does fall short, plot wise, it is principally in one area involving a central twist to the story. From the moment the backstory for this twist is introduced early in the film until the plot finally reveals it, there is nothing terribly surprising about it. The final scenes of the film do suggest that it is not what it would seem to be, but even still, the fact that so major a plot element in a film that is supposed to be a suspense thriller is so easily deduced is a bit of a let down.

Mission: Impossible is also not an action film in the literal sense. There is one major action set piece, but it is late in the film's running time, and up until then, the film has had no major car chases or fisticuffs. It replaces those with one major sequence of suspense, in which Ethan Hunt must attempt to retrieve information from a computer in a room littered with sensing equipment, including pressure sensitive floors, temperature controls and audio sensors. This sequence, played largely without dialogue and no music, is effective in building tension and literally putting you on the edge of your seat.

Mission: Impossible is not really an actor's movie. All the leads, from Cruise on down, are competent and do their jobs well, but nobody really takes hold of your attention. Cruise is his usual suave self, Rhames is entertaining as Luther Stickle, and Reno is appropriately shady as Kreiger. There is the suggestion of a possible romance between Hunt and Claire, but there isn't much chemistry between the two.

Mission: Impossible isn't a great film, but it is a good, effective one. It does require the audience pay attention and, emotionally, it doesn't pack a whallop, but it is good summer popcorn entertainment.
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8/10
Soak up Cruise's Charisma
newfiesailor22 May 2006
Yes, there was a time when Tom Cruise was charismatic. Take trashy movies such as Cocktail and Far and Away or great movies like The Firm and A Few Good Men and imagine anyone other than Tom Cruise in the lead role. Hard to do, isn't it? His brash, cocky attitude was once appealing. Now that he feels he's an intelligent spokesman with something to say, he just comes across as an arrogant a**hole. Fortunately, the first MI falls into his earlier stage.

This movie would have been just another action flick without Cruise. Sure we have a stellar cast, but did not Mr. Cruise steal every scene? He is perfect in the role of Ethan Hunt, a spy whose whole team is rubbed out in a convoluted cover up at the start. It is up to Ethan to uncover the plot behind the failed mission. The movie is a series of unveiled plot twists that becomes implausible after a while. But that's not the fun behind Mission Impossible. The fun is watching the great action scenes with their suspenseful turns. So much so, we are willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the ride. And to let ourselves be swept away by Mr. Cruise's undefinable quality to take us there.
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8/10
Confusing, But Still Fun To Watch
ccthemovieman-129 March 2006
Here's another film I watched when it came out and then later when the DVD was released and enjoyed both viewings, despite the fact I got "lost" several times. It's about time for another look because it's well-worth it and who knows....maybe I'll finally figure it out!

If you get a little confused trying to follow the plot, don't feel stupid. This isn't an easy story to follow but it gets high marks for keeping it interesting despite that problem.

The interesting characters, good cinematography, fun James Bond-like gadgets, just the right amount of action scenes and one very memorable heist scene with Tom Cruise dangling from a wire all make this an enjoyable two hours of entertainment. That scene with Cruise trying to break into this vault-like room remains as the one of the better tension-filled scenes I've ever witnessed on the big screen.

The final action scene with the speeding train and helicopter also is very memorable. John Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny and Jean Reno make it a fun cast to watch, too. Note: stick with this film and forget the sequel. Despite the confusion, this film is still fun to view.
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8/10
As good as a spy thriller can get,a real thrill ride to say the least!.
callanvass25 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mission Impossible was a film that I initially didn't care for,during my 1st few viewings. But the latest viewing,it seems I finally got it. Mission Impossible is a film that you have to pay strict attention too,otherwise you will eventually get lost,as it's a very confusing film. It isn't action packed like the sequels are,it's more of a mystery type thriller,but it has plenty of suspense,plenty of surprises,with an explosive finale that will have you on the edge of your seat!. I especially liked the train sequence at the end,it was very well done. I thought the casting of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt was a bit strange at 1st. Now I am a huge Cruise fan,but he just didn't seem like the Action hero type. He proved me wrong big time,and did what he did best,put on a captivating show,his charisma is a big reason this film worked. The big twist at the end is shocking to say the least. Some would say it didn't make much sense,I personally thought it was a nice touch,because the film needed to end with a big bang,and I thought it did just that!.

Mission Impossible isn't as flashy or action packed as the sequels,but as far as i'm concerned it may very well be the best in the series.

Performances. Tom Cruise has proved to be one of Hollywood's most charismatic and reliable actors for what seems like forever. Here he does not disappoint. He makes a great Ethah Hunt,he's witty,he oozes charisma,adding the perfect balance of charm&likability to Ethan. He handles himself well in the action scenes too,as I said he was a big reason in making this film work,with his undeniable charisma. Jon Voight is a hell of a presence. He always adds class and excellent acting to any film he's in,here was no different. Emmanuelle Béart is certainly a beauty,but she can also act pretty good too. She was highly mysterious,it kept her character unpredictable. Henry Czerny is full of intensity. His banter with Cruise in the restaurant was chilling stuff,I loved the guy!. Jean Reno is OK here. He is a capable actor,but I didn't much care for him in this. Ving Rhames is a pure bad ass,and while his role isn't as big as in the next two,he still came through. Rest of the cast do fine.

Bottom Line. Mission Impossible is an excellent spy thriller. It's exciting,suspenseful and downright unpredictable. Highly recommend,if you choose to accept this Mission.

8 1/2 /10
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8/10
Slick and stylish action flick
The_Void30 August 2005
Based on the TV show of the same name, Brian De Palma's stylish thriller stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt; a James Bond-esquire secret agent working for a certain section of the government. As the title suggests, many of the scenarios in the film are extremely unlikely; but then again, the film wouldn't be living up to it's title if they weren't. It's one thing to criticise it's stunts for being overblown, but if they weren't, critics would be on it's back and calling it things like 'Mission Possible', so really you've just got to go with it. Brian De Palma makes it easy to just 'go with it' by way of an intriguing plot line, a constant array of high-octane sequences and lots of his trademark style! The plot does get a little too convoluted for it's own good at times, and sometimes it's a little hard to follow; but it gives the film a good basis for all manner of impossibilities, so it serves it's purpose. We follow Ethan Hunt and his team. After a botched mission, Hunt finds himself on the run from his employers after being accused of disloyalty. Hunt must now pull out all the stops to stay one step ahead of his pursuers and get to the bottom of why their mission went wrong.

The film features a number of stunts, the best of which sees Tom Cruise breaking into the CIA via the roof. This sequence is brilliantly executed, with De Palma managing to inject bucketloads of suspense into the scene. This scene fits the tone of the film as it's brooding and cerebral, but the film ditches that idea for it's conclusion, which sees a bullet train, a helicopter and the Channel Tunnel combine to great effect! The problem with all these stunts is that the parts between the action sequences aren't all that interesting, and at times can slow the film down to walking pace. This isn't a big problem, however, because there's always more action around every corner and that keeps the film going. Tom Cruise obviously has charisma and can lead a film, but I often find it hard to buy him in action roles. This one suits him, though, as although his character is still more than capable, he comes off as being quite vulnerable, and lucky at times, and that suits Cruise's persona. On the whole, while this isn't a great film; it makes for good entertainment and if that's what you're in the mood for, Mission: Impossible wont disappoint.
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8/10
Great movie.
russem317 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Mission: Impossible", a 1996 film directed by Brian De Palma, is a great film. I do know others have found it jarring with a confusing storyline and I have to somewhat agree. However, there are many other elements which make this a very enjoyable film - first and foremost, I love the cinematography - the tilted angles which shows how chaotic the situation that Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is put in. Jim Phelps (played by Jon Voight) expertly plays his mentor in an interesting role. Ving Rhames stars as Luther Stickell (the only other character besides Ethan Hunt who is in all 3 films so far). Emmanuelle Beart as Claire Phelps also makes an appealing love interest. The action sequences are top-notch (especially the helicopter sequence at the end!) and the music is very fitting (by master composer Danny Elfman). I would recommend this film - a high 8 out of 10.
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8/10
Exciting espionage thriller.
theshadow9083 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Mission: Impossible tells the story of wrongly disavowed secret agent Ethan Hunt trying to prevent the theft of a list of all the secret agents in the world with the help of two other disavowed agents played by Ving Rhames and Jean Reno. While all this is going on, he must find the true mole in his agency that set him up.

Mission: Impossible is the perfect film for anyone who enjoys a good spy movie. The plot is quick and to the point. It never lets up for a minute. Unfortunately when it comes to spy movies, I'm left stumped with some of the details. With Mission: Impossible, even though they talk about things that are hard for the layman to understand, it can be easily figured out before the end of the film. But who cares anyway? The action scenes are amazing, particularly the famous sequence of Ethan Hunt dangling from a ceiling and catching a sweat droplet so it doesn't trigger the alarm. Since I'm young, I never had the pleasure of watching the TV show, but if it was anything like this movie, I'm sure I'd truly enjoy it.

All the roles in the film are played very well. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Ethan Hunt's team is made up of well established actors such as Jon Voight, Emilio Estevez, and Kristen Scott Thomas. You're saying, "Great cast. This should be good." Then, without a moments notice, they're all dead in the first 10 minutes.

Mission: Impossible is an amazing thrill ride movie, just what you'd expect from the director of Scarface and The Untouchables.

8/10
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8/10
the plot was great
Dr. Nick Riviera25 June 2000
Everyone seems to complain that the plot in this film is too confusing, but just because you don't 'get' it doesn't mean it's a bad movie. I thought that the plot was superb; it may be a little difficult to follow, but with a little thought it isn't at all hard to understand. It is refreshing to have a big budget thriller with a clever plot, not just masses of pyrotechnics and gunplay.
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8/10
I like this film!
Rammstein-211 February 2000
I really liked this one. Not very much in common with the TV-series, and I can see why so many dislike it that way. But there are some REALLY good sequences here, and there is even one that I consider to be one of the very best and most suspenseful parts of any movie - the part where Cruise is in the vault. Beautiful and nerve-racking.

Not much else to say, though - it's an action movie, and it's a good one.
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10/10
One of my all-time favorite movies!
LebowskiT100017 January 2003
This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite films of all time! I'll never forget watching this film for the first time with a good buddy of mine, afterward we couldn't stop talking about it and spent a great deal of time explaining plot points to each other. We finally decided that we just had to see it again, so we did and all of our questions were answered and our theories proven correct.

The story is nothing less than superb! Every time you think you have the movie figured out they throw you for another loop, but not too much as to get you irritated trying to figure out the plot. This is most definitely a film that deserves at least two viewings before you can truly understand and appreciate the story. The characters are all excellent as well, although I was sad to see Jack Harmen (Emilio Estevez) get killed off so quickly, I liked his character.

The cast is extraordinary! Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt perfectly! Jon Voight was the perfect choice for Jim Phelps. Emmanuelle Beart was very good in her role. Henry Czerny was superb as Kittridge. Jean Reno was an excellent addition to the cast. Ving Rhames was a very nice touch and really added a lot to the film. Kristin Scott Thomas was lovely as always, although played a somewhat minor role in the greater scheme of things. Vanessa Redgrave was another nice addition to the cast. And finally, Emilio Estevez (as I mentioned above), played a small role, and played it quite well.

I can see why some of the big fans of the show wouldn't like this film due to certain plot points that I can't give away, so if you are a big fan of the show, be forewarned, you may have some issues with the film. Personally, I've never seen a single episode of the old television show, so I had absolutely no frame of reference. Which, I believe, put me in a better position to appreciate the story.

I feel that I have to mention the action scenes in this film! SPECTACULAR!!! The scene where Kittridge and Hunt are talking in the restaurant...just AWESOME! The entire last 20 minutes of the film...UNBELIEVABLE!!! The filming, the action, the special effects and stunts alone make this film worth watching (but luckily, there is so much more to appreciate).

If you are a fan of Tom Cruise, or just crime/mystery/action films in general, be sure to check this one out (at least twice). This is honestly one of my top 20 films of all time, I truly hope that you will enjoy this film. Thanks for reading,

-Chris
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8/10
8/10
sHERIFFOFSHERIFFSTOWN29 December 2005
I haven't seen this movie since I was like, 10, so I decided to watch it again- since I didn't really know sh*t about films back in the day, and passed this off as just another Tom Cruise film. Wrong. I put this into my VCR last night (I bought it for about a dollar at a used store- it was much cheaper than renting it) and I expected the worst. Normally I try to stay neutral, but knowing Tom Cruise, and knowing the kind of films he does- such as Top Gun (thats right, I said it) I just didn't know what to expect, or remember enough of it to pass judgment on it. However, I am a huge DePalma fan, and love his style (which is just a LITTLE different than Hitchcocks, I understand). Well anyway, This is about a crew of spies, namely the point man named Ethan Hunt. While on a mission, every one of his members are killed, and he is framed with being a corrupt agent. Hunt, to clear his name and get his parents out of jail, sets out for the real mole by way of the book of job. Overall, this is a film is one of Tom Cruis' best. He doesn't have many, mind you, but this is one of the few. Brian DePalma DOES NOT disappoint either. This movie looks and feels awesome. The direction is awesome, and it has the little "DePalma" trademark that we all love (or just me?). If you want a mindless action flick, watch mission impossible 2- if you want one with a semi-complex storyline (I don't even know if I would call it that. Not that hard to follow, but certainly more hard to follow than Mission Impossible 2)- watch mission impossible. 8/10
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7/10
call it a guilty pleasure
TheUnknown837-113 December 2008
Every now and again, you will come upon a film that you know really isn't the best movie in the world, or even a particularly good movie on its own. And yet, despite its glaring flaws and imperfectness and lack of completion, you do find yourself strangely attached to it because it has a charm to itself that keeps you interested. Call it a guilty pleasure.

Mission: Impossible is my guilty pleasure. It's based on a 1960s television series created by Bruce Geller and the movie with Tom Cruise is kind of like a mash-up between The Bourne Identity and the James Bond pictures. Basically, the standard spy movie. Tom Cruise plays a spy who is falsely accused of betrayal to his organization and finds himself working with some unlikely partners to track down the real mole in the system and expose him and clear his name. Now, this is a plot as old as the hills and Mission: Impossible works with it just as well as the others. Not enormously well, but on an acceptable level.

Tom Cruise is great as the film's action hero lead, unfortunately his supporting cast is quite uninteresting. Another defect worth noting is the film's convoluted plot, which sometimes is hard to follow. This is caused by a screenplay in need of revisions. That's one of the film's major weaknesses and really the reason why it's just a standard spy movie with lots of cool gadgets instead of something special.

But that's really my only significant complaint about Mission: Impossible. Those rather small, unimportant defects left aside, and leaving the movie to its own devices, it works out well especially in its action sequences. Again, it's all been done before, sometimes better sometimes worse, but that doesn't meant it's boring or overdrawn. In fact, sometimes it's very primal. There is one scene in particular that I found intense and suspenseful on a hair-raising level. The scene goes on for an unremittingly long time, keeping us on the edges of our seats, and the best thing of all is that it's silent. The filmmakers could have chosen to go along with some dark, heavy music or some ominous heartbeat sound effects to put us in the same shoes with the characters, but the fact that it's quiet—too quiet for our liking—makes it so much more compelling. I only wish the rest of the movie was like this scene. Then it really would have been special.

Nevertheless, De Palma's Mission: Impossible works out well for what it is and unless you're not a fan of the standard spy movies or action pictures in particular, of if you have your standards and hopes up too high, I imagine you will enjoy it. Again, it is kind of a guilty pleasure, but hey, it was a lot of fun.
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7/10
Its a Decent Adaptation to the Big Screen
mjw230513 October 2007
Tom Cruise Ethan Hunt, a secret agent framed for the deaths of his espionage team, is on the run from government assassins, as he tries to uncover the shocking who's and why's of his setup.

Cruise performs well in the role, and the support from Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames and more is strong and definitely adds plenty of body to the film.

With some good intrigue and tension, a few breathtaking stunts and a strong conspiracy style plot; Mission Impossible is a decent adaptation of the original series, without really being too familiar.

7/10 but should have been better
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7/10
Thrilling Thriller
no-skyline7 February 2006
Brian De Palma delivers a kinetic live wire suspense filled espionage thriller to open the Mission Impossible franchise. The camera work is exceptional with De Palma's trademark sense of motion applied to suspenseful heists and an amazing train ride sequence during which you really get the sense of speed and danger. Also created is one of the most iconic images from any thriller of recent times Tom Cruise suspended mid heist inches from a pressure sensitive floor. Cruise lives up to his star billing and for me really nails the Ethan Hunt character, Jean Reno, Ving Rames and the stunning Emmanuelle Beart provide able support.

My one problem with this film and unfortunately quite a big problem is that the twist in the tale can be seen coming a mile off. Which is a real shame as this film is inventive, fun, stylish and everything a main stream thriller should be.

Fun but the twist in the tale doesn't have enough of a sting 7/10
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7/10
Not really THAT confusing
Shawn Watson7 May 2006
I first saw Mission: Impossible when I was 15 and I didn't have a Scooby what the hell was going on. And I considered myself to be smarter than the average bear. In retrospect, it's not that muddled. In comparison to the very-dumbed down sequel it stands out as a better example of film-making made by a director who doesn't underestimate the audience.

Brian De Palma is known to be a wildly inconsistent filmmaker. From the over-rated Carrie, to the under-rated 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 S.W.A.T. or 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 who's entire team is killed in a phony sting operation in Prague. Accused of being a traitor he legs it before they can nab him and assembles a team 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 whole movie. You'll know by now the dangling scene in the top-secret room but the best scene in the movie 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 more cooler.

Parts of the movie may seem a bit dated now and it's weird seeing Tom Cruise look like a little boy even though he was already 33. He even sounds different. And what kind of supervillian uses floppy discs? They could have tried something a bit more high-tech there.

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?
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8/10
The best of the three
mike dewey28 September 2007
An engaging piece of Cold War histrionics set in fine motion by DePalma and his stellar entourage of fine actors. To me, it stands far ahead of the two sequels, primarily because it is more subtle and cerebral and less visceral than the others. The cast itself is not laden with merely young hot-shot actors inserted into screenplays for box office appeal. Rather, it is almost too politically correct in its casting as all the demographics seem to be represented here: young, old, Black, White, male, female, American, European etc. Yet each of the principals and the supporting cast fits into his/her respective role quite well, with little wasted motion. It's as if they each have their own "raison d'etre" as it pertains to the overall story line.

The sophisticated spy-vs.-spy plot line is not only enhanced by the thespian talent, but also the inventive camera work that allows us to revisit "flashbacks" of prior scenes that are taken from perspectives other than the original. To wit, the Jon Voight bridge scene gets a few once-overs, if you will. Also, the European locales are well shot with no gratuitous indulgence, which helps to embellish the story line. Lest I forget, a sweet job by Danny Elfman adapting Lalo Schiffrin's "MI" theme to the soundtrack, especially during the ending credits where he shifts the theme's normal 5/4 tempo to a funkier, bluesier 4/4 time signature!

Tom Cruise takes a nice turnabout from some of his earlier more "cutesy" roles. His role here demands of him technical expertise as well as strength of character in order for him to merely stay alive. J. Voight and V. Redgrave are in fine form in their complex and beguiling portrayals.

In summary, this episode of the "MI" series characterizes what I consider to be a triumph of substance over form, of subtlety over the obvious. Maybe this attitude is a "no-no" for modern audiences, but it remains one philosophy that I will always endorse.
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8/10
Lalo Schifrin, Meet Danny Elfman.
jzappa22 February 2011
The plot of the original summer blockbuster re-imagining of Mission: Impossible is a virtually unfathomable maze of post-Cold War duplicity, though the fine points barely count. It's all an arrangement for exciting chase sequences and a skilled computer theft procedure, intercut with that most dependable of spy movie supplies, the midnight meeting under a street lamp in a frosty foreign city.

Cruise is Ethan Hunt, specialist spy, whose mission is to stop the stealing of a computer file holding the aliases and true identities of all of America's infiltrators. It's not sufficient to just obstruct the guy. Cruise and his team are supposed to snap pictures of the opponent taking the information, and then pursue him until he drops it off. This procedure concerns a check list of Cold War chestnuts: Bifocals with incorporated TV cameras, hidden microphones, laptop computers, agents in ornate disguise, exploding cars, shankings, shootings, bodies falling into a river, and the like. Naturally the entire sequence focuses on an embassy party in Prague.

Self-consciously baroque and formal as always, this is nevertheless still certainly one of director Brian De Palma's very best works. Rather than trying to bring his preference for stylistic flamboyance over substance to material of substance, Mission: Impossible is perfectly suited for him, as it affords him the ample playground for his often subtly deceptive and reflexive exploration of voyeurism. It comprises a chain of impressive set pieces. Any deeper engagement with the film is overpowered by the strict adherence to spectacle.

There are so many double-blinds in the first 45 minutes that we're trained to judge nothing and no one merely by facade, not even their facades, because they may be ornate Adrian Messenger-style latex masquerade. And the drive of the visuals stops us from asking commonsense questions like, Is actually reproducing a computer file onto another disc the one way to get it? Don't you guys have hackers? Like most De Palma films, this Tom Cruise vehicle is all polished lather and procedural dexterity. The characters are not terribly intriguing, save Vanessa Redgrave as an information broker, who extracts a trace of melancholy in a film too impulsive for apathy of any sort. The assorted stratagems of Cruise and his associates and enemies don't hold water under analysis. And that makes little difference.

This is a movie that lives in the moment, and we must be in the moment to take pleasure in it. Any off-putting doubts from earlier in the film must be resolutely subdued.

De Palma is proficient at grand, slow-moving vistas of tension and violence. This $100 million action film gives him the chance for more modern versions of the vintage wordless action sequence. There are three here: The introductory scenario at the ambassadors' soirée, a fragile feat of computer burglary and an absolutely incredible bullet-paced climactic chase that I would call a masterpiece were it not scored overmuch. It's where a helicopter trails the express London-Paris line into the Chunnel with Cruise and the now revealed ultimate villain clutching on top of it.

The computer burglary scene will strike a loud chord with anyone who has seen Rififi or Topkapi, both by Jules Dassin, who became renowned for his extensive heist sequences executed in utter silence. Topkapi also shares in common with Mission: Impossible the method of hanging a thief from an opening in the ceiling to circumvent ultra-sensitive security mechanisms on the floor. This time, De Palma gives us a computer safe room engineered so that sirens will wail at any sound above a particular decibel level, any weight on the floor, any variation in temperature.

Naturally it's handy that the decibel level is set high enough that it isn't activated by the sound of a computer copying a disc, which is exactly what it should be resisting. Fitting, too, that the infra-red rays safeguarding the ceiling hatch can be so expediently contended with. And quite opportune for the audience that the rays are made discernible to the untrained eye. If you want to see infra-red rays thoroughly explored in a caper, watch Grand Slam.

The main thing is, Cruise looks hip and holds our interest while doing clever things that we don't completely grasp, doing them so rapidly and with so much elegance that we put our questions on the back burner and glide with enjoyment. When the movie ends, it turns out there wasn't anything apart from the wind. Our relief, apparently, is that we enjoy ourselves.
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Great Fun.
Meltdown5309853322 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Cruise is Ethan Hunt, an agent that is wrongfully accused of betrayal to his organization and must set out to find the mole who was responsible. Great action scenes and suspense while we are given twists and turns aalong the way. No matter what I can't seem to find what everyone is complaining about this movie. i'll never find what they complain about, because the movie is simply and truly a crowd pleaser. I don't care at all of what the original what ever was like. I and many other people saw this movie, I and many others liked this movie, and that's all that matters. *** 1/2 out of ****
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1/10
Just the worst!
hjkrentz11 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
De Palma was trying to take a great TV suspense series and turn it into an action movie, and fails to be either. The plot is too thick and twisty for an action movie (hence, all the confusion for the people who wanted an action movie), and there's too much mayhem and uncontrolled improvisation to work as a tight, suspense filled caper like the original series. For those who wanted an action movie, I'm told De Palma dumbed down the other MI movies, thus moving it further yet from the spirit of the original series.

As far as an action movie goes, it's got plenty of action, but it's hard not to roll your eyes at Cruise surviving that bomb blast towards the end. Yeah, real good IMF-type planning there, Cruise. You planned on surviving that bomb blast and getting catapulted up to the next car all along, right? But what REALLY blows is the way De Palma ruined the premise of the series by making Phelps out to be the baddie. Don't let De Palma get a hold of "Columbo", or he'll have the lieutenant become a serial killer, with Tom Cruise, his partner, tracking him down in a car chase and killing him in some fiery explosion at the end. Complete waste of time for anyone who likes either genre.
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8/10
Such movies teach you the manner of watching movies
zfiany30 March 2009
First, I am a loyal fan of De Palma. OK the man basically did the Untouchables, Scarface, wise guys, Carlitos Way, Carrie, casualties of war!!! Many people judge a director by the work as a whole, not the history of his all works, diversification, and elements of one work. Well if you focus on these three elements, you will find from the movies I named above that De Palma has done it all!

Let us see: Mission Impossible I was the best of all three and it was the only one directed by De Palma. The second was directed by John Woo and the third by J.J.Abrams. If you watch the second you will see a touch of face/off from Woo but nothing that teases your brain. If you watch the third, well nothing is good about it. However, the first one is a movie that almost everyone I know who watched it the first time wasn't capable of understanding the plot quite properly! It's one of the very few action movies that requires full attention and respect to the plot. We all know action movies' plots! So, anyone who didn't like this movie is simply one that didn't understand the plot with its minutest details that need a proper viewing. De Palam, hats off to you for you master any work you put your hands on.

If you like brain teasers, if you appreciate great directors, if you enjoy plots that put your wit to test, then Mission Impossible I is the right movie for you.
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1/10
Star vehicle only - what's the point?
elwyn51506 March 2000
I used to watch the 80s series remake of "Mission Impossible" and feel this movie is largely "Mission Impossible" in title only.

It's really just a big star vehicle and money-making enterprise for Tom Cruise.

Sure, it's an entertaining mindless romp that will keep your brain happily in neutral for a few hours and that may be all you're after.

The revelation of who is the true villain will anger some fans such as myself.

It really wasn't anything like the 80s "Mission Impossible" I remember. What about the comraderie between characters? What about the team effort thing? These things are missing because it's Tom Cruise Vs the rest of the world.

The best thing about the film is Larry Mullen Jnr and Adam Clayton from U2 being on the soundtrack.
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