Mission: Impossible (1996)

mission impossible poster 1996 movie tom cruise
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Strong, sleek action flick

Story confuses some

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mission: Impossible

Studio:  Paramount Pictures/Cruise/Wagner Productions

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Suspense/Mystery

Release Date(s):  May 20, 1996 (Premiere)/May 22, 1996 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

mission impossible ethan hunt tom cruise kristin scott thomas

Everything is going great…well, crap

This is your mission, should you decide to accept it.  Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and a team of agents from Mission Impossible Force are assigned to take down a possible double agent planning to sell top secret list of undercover agents and their cover identities called the Non-Official Cover list.  When the mission goes wrong, Ethan finds half of his team dead and learns he’s being set-up as a spy.  Now, Ethan must assemble a new covert team of M.I.F. to unearth the organization planning to buy the N.O.C. list to find out who is framing him.

Directed by Brian DePalma, Mission:  Impossible (also known as M:I) is an action-adventure spy movie.  The film is a reinvention of the television series which ran from 1966-1973 and was briefly relaunched from 1988-1990.  The film featured a remake of the main theme by U2 and was a critical and financial success.

mission impossible max ethan hunt tom cruise vanessa redgrave

I’m former undercover going undercover to uncover an undercover spy…got it?

I didn’t really have any connection to Mission:  Impossible.  The main thing I always took from the show (and if you were kid when it was still in the public consciousness) was the assignment…aka the mission assignment and the self-destructing tape.  This new iteration of Mission:  Impossible brought back the spike of interest.  Due to aspects of the story a *****spoiler alert***** is in effect for the review.

Mission: Impossible is fast and sleek spy thriller with more emphasis on the spy than the James Bond suaveness.  While the franchise has gone on for quite a while now and gotten more extreme, this entry feels more personal and small.  Despite the comparison to the newer films, this outing of Mission:  Impossible still has a lot of fun in a plot that twists and moves…sometimes, it is accused of being “confusing”, but it seems pretty straight forward (the odd way DePalma chose to reveal what really happened might have led to that).

mission impossible ethan hunt suspension floor tom cruise ethan hunt

When the “Floor Is Lava” game goes to the extreme

Tom Cruise still not only looks young in this film but is relatively young.  He has a lot of his Tom Cruise charm, but he still has a coolness that makes him seem formidable when he is on “mission”.  Jon Voight plays an obvious role (he’s too big to go out so quickly), but the movie also tries to balance out Voight’s death by having Kristin Scott Thomas, Emilio Estevez, and Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė wiped out quickly.  Ving Rhames, Emmanuelle Béart, and Jean Reno are good as the secondary team.

The movie was pretty high tech when it was released, but now it seems rather basic when compared to future entries.  The highlight of the “tech” is the raid of the FBI headquarters and the much mimicked and parody Tom Cruise raid rope sequence.  While this looks good, things like the train explosion look rather unrealistic and the fun “mask pull” is done too often and becomes bit of a crutch for the series.

mission impossible tunnel explosion ethan hunt tom cruise

I’m no physicist…but this has me questioning reality

Mission:  Impossible is a fun start to a franchise that gets better in my opinion (minus a few of the sequels).  I could also see an argument that movie is better than some of the later entries because it is less outrageous and explosive and more grounded in tech instead of extreme stunts.  With so many spy franchises, Mission:  Impossible has done a good job to distinguish itself from the pack including James Bond and Jason Borne and improve on a franchise instead of ruining a classic.  Mission:  Impossible was followed by Mission:  Impossible 2 in 2000.

Related Links:

Mission:  Impossible II (2000)

Mission:  Impossible III (2006)

Mission:  Impossible—Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission:  Impossible—Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission:  Impossible—Fallout (2018)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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