Monday, July 08, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Mission: Impossible (1996)

Last Christmas I watched my first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film, starting with the most recent entry in the series, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (2018).

I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been looking forward to watching the rest of the series. Over the 4th of July break I caught the very first movie in the series, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996). It's really something that it came out 23 years ago; this series has been going even longer than the Fast & Furious series, which is currently 18 years old, or the Jason Bourne series, which began 17 years ago. When MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE began I was struck by how young Tom Cruise looked compared to FALLOUT!

As the original film begins, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is on a mission headed by Jim Phelps (Jon Voigt). It all goes horribly wrong due to a suspected mole, with members of the team systematically killed off; as the apparent lone survivor, Ethan is fingered by his superior (Henry Czerny) as the man who double-crossed his partners.

Ethan uses a list of "disavowed" agents to locate Luther (Ving Rhames) and Krieger (Jean Reno) and persuade them to work with him and Phelps' widow Claire (Emmanuelle Beart) to clear his name. Needless to say, it won't be easy.

That's really all one needs to know about the plot, which is fairly complicated yet fun to watch. The movie is all about the great set pieces and action sequences; the scene where Cruise dangles from wires to access a computer in an ultra-high security room might fairly be called iconic. Although I'd never seen the film I recognized it immediately from having seen clips over the years.

I liked the echoes of earlier films found in this movie; for instance, the concept of a largely silent "burglary" scene with the character entering from the ceiling called to mind the heist sequence from RIFIFI (1955). I also wondered if the filmmakers had seen Jacques Tourneur's EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944) with its great climactic scene featuring exploding fish tanks, another concept which comes into play over the course of this movie.

Adding to the enjoyment is the fun of watching 1990s computer technology; some of the "high tech" computer moments, including downloading to discs, were inadvertently amusing just because they now seem rather quaint.

Fun fact: The arms dealer played by Vanessa Redgrave is the mother of Vanessa Kirby's character in the most recent movie.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was stylishly directed by Brian DePalma and filmed by Stephen H. Burum. It runs 110 well-paced minutes.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13. There is some language and violence but most of it isn't particularly gory. (One violent scene early on did surprise me so much that I literally jumped and spilled my coffee!)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is available in multiple editions, including a five-film MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE DVD collection or Blu-ray collection.

I'm looking forward to the next titles in the series and will be blogging here as I watch them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read that a lot of people that were fans of the old MISSION IMPOSSIBLE show weren't happy with this movie. PETER GRAVES played JIM PHELPS. The show had been on CBS and later Mr. Graves came back to play Mr. Phelps again in a new show on ABC. Also Im sure a lot of fans were glad to see Graves and Greg Morris, who played Barney, on an ep of MURDER, SHE WROTE with ANGELA LAMSBURY in 1984-even though they were playing different characters. Classic TV Fan

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made a typo. I meant LANSBURY. Classic TV Fan

1:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Funny thing, I never watched the original show, so at least I'm not making any TV-to-film comparisons! Instead I associate Peter Graves with things like '50s movie Westerns. :)

Best wishes,

10:02 PM  

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