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Mission: Impossible Movie Review

The first assignment for Ethan Hunt in this first part of the Mission: Impossible franchise concerns a mole hunt & his disaccreditation as an IMF agent.
Mission: Impossible

Genre: Action / Adventure / Thriller

Director: Brian de Palma

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Andreas Wisniewski & Henry Czerny. Run Time: 110 min.

US Release: 22 May 1996

UK Release: 5 July 1996

German Release: 7 August 1996

Before I start reviewing: I changed the format of my reviews, from now on they will be looking like this. I will also try and keep my reviews at a maximum of two pages, to keep it short and interesting. If you have further tips or advice for my blog, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.


The following weeks I’ll be going through all Mission: Impossible films, as anticipation to the upcoming Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, which will be released August 6th in Germany. Starting off this week, I am reviewing the first movie in this series directed by Brian de Palma (The Untouchables, Scarface) and starring a young Tom Cruise in his first true action blockbuster. This is also my favourite M:I film concerning the story and it is the first to bring the highly popular TV show on to the big screen.

Mission: Impossible received generally positive critique from the public and that is due to its high tense storytelling. The movie had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and that is what made this spy flick so great.

The plot of this action filled thrill ride revolves around an IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent named Ethan Hunt (Cruise), who is framed by his former boss and mentor Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), during a mission in Prague. Before the agency, lead by Eugene Kittridge (Czerny), can arrest Hunt the young agent escapes and goes underground. From there on out he devises a plan to find out who framed him, bring the traitor to justice and clear his name. He recruits disavowed agents Luther Stickell (Rhames) and Franz Krieger (Reno) to form a team, while also in company of Phelps wife Claire (Emmanuelle Beart).

I did like the story of this film but I also realize that it has some flaws. The story can get a little too convoluted. Between the mole hunt, stealing the CIA NOC list for Max (an arms dealer) and running from Kittridge and his team, it sometimes feels like too much is going on screen for the viewer to comprehend. Nevertheless, I did like that you needed to pay close attention to the movie.

The exposition scenes, showing us the team meetings and their talk about the mission, reminded me so much of the Mission: Impossible TV series and that is what I loved about this film! It was a tribute to the show that I watched as a child (amongst Knight Rider, MacGyver and Baywatch, Mission: Impossible was a very popular TV series in Germany and had a lot of reruns).

The pacing of the story was brilliant, there was never a dull moment and they kept it all very spy-esque yet different. Never in this film did Ethan Hunt pull the trigger of a gun, it was all handled very stealthy and quiet, which tightened the tension. I also thought that taking away everything from the Hero and essentially making him an anti-hero was one of the best ideas for this film!

Talking about Heroes, Ethan Hunt was an amazing character in this spy flick. He was a young, inexperienced and vulnerable soul, who needed to constantly proof to us that he was the right man for the job. This persona is one of my favourite portrayals by Cruise, and he did a tremendous job at making this character identifiable.

Jon Voight was good as Jim Phelps and I do understand that they were going for a complete different Phelps to the one in the series. Still, the fact that they took an iconic character as that one and turned him into a traitor was a little disappointing and disrespectful. It did serve for a great story though and therefore I can’t really complain about it.

Ving Rhames’ Iconic character Luther Stickell, a buff and smart mouthed hacker, is next to Hunt one of the best personas created for this movie series. Jean Reno was great as Phelps's partner in crime and secondary villain Franz Krieger, especially after seeing the film Leon: The Professional. It was nice to see this French actor play the role of a villain for once.

Brian de Palma did a fantastic directorial task. The whole movie consists of great shots, and he used different styles to suit each scene. Examples of this are: The use of wide shots, to amplify the importance of the team. The focus on the knifes used by Krieger, as a hint towards who he is. The Dutch Angles used when Hunt’s paranoia kicks in etc. De Palma was trying to create a movie that is based and can be compared to the TV series, through the choices he made in filming.

This unique and high quality cinematography did set it apart from the typical summer blockbusters. But he also managed to create and capture great action scenes, such as the whole first act, leading up to the confrontation with Kittridge at the restaurant. Or, the last act when Hunt confronts Phelps on the train. One of the greatest and most tense moments though, was the break-in at the CIA, to steal the NOC list.

The score is one of the best parts of Mission: Impossible. De Palma utilised a few variations of the original TV soundtrack and used them throughout the movie, for scenes that reflected the spirit of the television show.


Verdict: Mission: Impossible is my favourite movie from the franchise. It captured that atmosphere that made the TV series great and utilised it to create a unique and never seen spy movie. I, therefore, give it a 9.0 out of 10!

Which Mission: Impossible film was your favourite? Leave a comment below, and as always thank you for reading.

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