Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4
Sometimes excessive, but fairly consistently good director Brian
DePalma (CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL, SCARFACE, BODY DOUBLE, THE
UNTOUCHABLES, and CARLITO'S WAY) takes a TV classic and brings it to
your local monsterscreen. As the movie going public now knows,
megastar and suburb actor Tom Cruise plays point man Ethan Hunt in
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. The film has Cruise's usual good acting, some
excellent stunts (actually done by Cruise), and many effective uses of
the TV theme music (Lalo Schifrin) with its heavy beat, but for me the
film was a disappointment. Although I think the film is worth seeing,
much of the script (Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, David Koepp, and Robert
Towne) is plodding and tedious.
The plot of the story is that the IM force (Jon Voight as Jim
Phelps, Emmanuelle Beart as his wife Claire, Kristin Scott Thomas as
Sarah Davies, Emilio Estevez as Jack, and Ingeborge Dapkunaite as
Hannah) is supposed to foil the theft of a list of our covert agents in
Eastern Europe, but things do not turn out as the IM force would like.
This puts them on a big cat and mouse game where it is not clear who
are the bad guys, and who are the good until the end. There may or may
not be a mole. It's that sort of story.
We also have Vanessa Redgrave as Max, Henry Czerny as CIA agent
Kittridge, Ving Rhames as ex-IMer Luther Stickell, and Jean Reno as
ex-IMer Krieger. Evil seeming, but is he really, Kittridge gets lots
of overwritten lines like, "If you want to play with the devil, that's
fine with me. I just want to make sure you do it in hell." Jim Phelps
gets similar lines including the Biblical one of, "thou shall not covet
thy neighbor's wife."
I have already said that Cruise is consistently good in all of his
picture including this one. Most of the other IM actors have a lot of
talent, but I didn't see much of it in evidence in this movie. Jon
Voight has not given a convincing performance since RUNAWAY TRAIN
(1985), but the potential remains. Emmanuelle Beart is absolutely
wonderful in the just about to be released in the US, NELLY AND
MONSIEUR ARNAUD. Kristin Scott Thomas was brilliant in RICHARD III
earlier this year. Emilio Estevez specializes in poor performances in
terrible movies like THE MIGHT DUCKS, but can be good as in REPO MAN
(1984). Only Ingeborge Dapkunaite have I never seen before.
Other than Tom Cruise's excellent acting ability and body, the
only reason to see the show are the action sequences. They do not
happen that often and some, as in the computer room, are mercilessly
slow, but most are fresh and fascinating. The best is the
quintessential chase on top of a train. Here they decide to do it on
the super fast French TGV and add enough elements to make it
fascinating and unusual. If the script had created characters I cared
about, which it didn't, then I would have been more impressed by this
scene because I would worry that someone would get hurt. Another
excellent action sequence has to do with a blown fish tank.
Technically, the shows a few realistic aspects like the user
groups on the Internet (only alt.stuff and sadly not
rec.arts.movies.reviews) and adds on a lot of outlandish technology
like a computer console in a sealed room that has an unbelievably
complex security system guarding it. Suspending disbelief and going
along with this was no problem for me. It is close enough to reality,
and this is like a James Bond film anyway.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE runs 1:50. It is correctly rated PG-13 as
there is no sex, no nudity, a little bloody but cartoon level violence,
and fairly mild language. It would be fine for kids say 9 and up. I
was disappointed by the way the show drags a lot, but the action is
good as is Cruise so I give it a thumbs up and award it ** 1/2.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes