Directed by: Brian DePalma
Written by: Robert Towne, David Koepp, Steven Zaillian, Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Emilio Estevez
Runtime: 110 min
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a secret agent framed for the death of several comrades and falsely branded a traitor, who embarks on a daring scheme to clear his name in this spy adventure.
Fleeing from government assassins, breaking into the CIA's most impenetrable vault, clinging to the roof of a speeding bullet train ... Hunt races like a burning fuse to stay one step ahead of his pursuers and draw one step closer to discovering the shocking truth.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout is coming out next week, so naturally I decided to watch and review every single movie of the franchise. With so many remakes and reboots of famous sagas, it is a breath of relief that M:I is actually one that makes sense to keep doing. Since the third installment that it keeps continuously improving on the previous film and the evolution of visual effects didn't even affect the movies' essence. If there's one thing that this franchise is known for, is the realistic and practical method of filming action, instead of the CGI which is being used in excess more and more each day that goes by.
By the time of the original release of this film, Tom Cruise was not yet an action movie icon. He was still trying to prove himself, and this was the film that started it all. Not only he portrays an exceptional character, but he tremendously elevates it when it comes to the action moments. He is also really expressive in the suspenseful scenes, and he is directly connected to some of the most prominent and extraordinary tension moments in the action movies history.
Ethan Hunt, our hero, is very well-written and extremely interesting. The several ways by which he tries to decipher who framed him are filled with great details, amplified by the remarkable work of Brian DePalma, as the director. Excellent shots and phenomenal control of the tension in every scene. For a film released more than 20 years ago, most of its craft still holds up pretty well.
As for the remaining cast, Ving Rhames stands out as Luther since he brings a very cool and funny vibe to the movie. Jon Voight portrays Hunt's boss, Jim Phelps, and he definitely leaves a good impression. Everyone else just serves the plot as it goes and that is my main issue with this first installment. If there's one thing that the audience members of 1996 and 2018 have in common is that they want easy-to-follow stories and big, brainless, illogical action ...
I praise Mission: Impossible because it really tries to have a mysterious storyline. After all, we are watching an espionage film. However, even with me paying attention to every single line, it is undoubtedly confusing, to say the least. There are a lot of details in the screenplay that just don't quite come together at the end. The antagonist's motivations are a bit unclear as well as the ones from the characters related to it.
The action set pieces are filled with special effects, but the beginning of incredible practical stunts started with this one. Like I wrote above, one of the most iconic, suspenseful scenes in movie history, is when Hunt tries to break into the CIA. That scene alone makes action films nowadays look like an absolute waste of time and money. The amount of tension build up during that moment is ridiculous. The lack of background music is astonishingly ballsy, and it totally works. Everything about that scene is pure perfection!
Throughout the movie, there are more than a couple of practical stunts but the ending kind of ruins it all. A completely illogical and absurd action sequence to end such a great film frustrates me a little bit, even considering the fact that this movie was not released in this century. I don't think it needed to be this "blockbuster-y," and it breaks the realistic feel that the film had until that point.
Before I forget, the score ... It is an impossible mission (ha...ha...ha) to forget the famous spy theme song. It is the tangible proof of the overwhelming success of this movie. It became the ringtone for most phones and even people that didn't watch any of the M:I films know the recognizable tone. Regarding the other definition of tone, it is another aspect that DePalma seamlessly balanced. The pacing never breaks down, and I didn't feel bored or distracted for a single second.
The first installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise still incredibly holds up 20 years later. Tom Cruise is the living evidence of the movie's success as he became one of the most iconic action film stars. DePalma's last great movie is filled with excellent direction, a very captivating protagonist, some fantastic action scenes and a memorable soundtrack. However, in the writing department, things went a little overboard and the plot is too confusing. The ending action sequence is a bit of a letdown, but the frenetic pacing provides a blast of entertainment and one of the most influential action films of all-time.