May 22, 1996
United States (English)
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by David Koepp and Robert Towne
"Mission: Impossible" is not just a fun and smart tribute to its namesake, but a thrilling motion picture that deserves to be discovered or re-discovered.
De Palma's first film resurrected the popular '60s TV series of the same name and gave it a fresh face lift with Tom Cruise playing Agent Ethan Hunt of the Impossible Missions Force. Mentored by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), Hunt and company aim to prevent the stealing of a Non-Official Cover (NOC) list of the agents in Eastern Europe. These gadget-toting spies operate during a party at the U.S. Embassy in Praque, creating a memorable opening to this cat-and-mouse thriller.
The film's plot is thick with intrigue, which keeps you interested and guessing to the final reveal. The technology the agents have at their disposal adds wonderfully to this (such as the staple masks and voice converters). Tom Cruise proves himself capable as a Hollywood action star again, one whose best interest we are actively invested in. Cruise's charm and ability make him perfect for the lead role.
From the breeching of the CIA office in Langley to the incredible train sequence at the end, this is a noteworthy ride that lives up to its name. Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay De Palma is that this is nearly on par with a Hitchcock classic ("Foreign Correspondent" or even "North By Northwest"). If the master of suspense were alive today we could expect him developing fine films like this. "Mission: Impossible" has a clear layer of prestige over it, something the later films would obliterate entirely (starting with Mr. John Woo's entry). However, this also makes this '90s film feel like something from the early '80s. It has not aged entirely well, but I still consider it a classic.
CONTENT: intense action and violence
(Author's Note: I recently watched all the "Mission: Impossible" films (in descending order actually) and had an absolute blast doing so. Besides discovering "Mission: Impossible 2" truly is the weak link in the series, it was also my first time truly seeing this first one. I am going to review the four films in order over the next few days.)