Director: Brian De Palma
In 1996 Tom Cruise starred in a film that would come to define his career and would be the role that would continue his celebrity status into the 2020s. That film is Mission Impossible, based on the tv series from the 1960s. Now with the 7th Mission Impossible coming out, I am going to take a look at each of the films and see what I think. None of these are first viewings, I have seen each one of these films at least three times and some of them more than that.
This very first Mission Impossible film is quite different from the rest. This film definitely fits more into the spy/thriller genre than it does the action/spy genre. A lot of the scenes in this film are just people sitting around talking and trying to resolve the many obstacles that are in their way. I really like that we can see more day-to-day spy work in this. The opening mission that we see them on in this film isn’t connected to the larger mission, and it was cool to just see them pull off the mission with everything going off without a hitch. It shows that these are professionals that we are dealing with and they know what they are doing.
Once we finally meet the man himself, Ethan Hunt, it will be easy to tell he is not yet the self-assured badass that we see in the later films, who has plans upon plans and is great on the fly. This Ethan Hunt is young and more naïve. He might have experience as an IMF agent, but that does not mean that he is prepared for any scenario or for the fact that he should not trust everyone. It was really interesting to see how this character evolves, and we will keep talking about that throughout. It was also interesting to see Ethan at a time when he was not a leader and he was just a member of the team goofing around and following orders instead of giving them.
I still remember watching this when I was 9 and being shocked by all the deaths at the beginning of the film. I really felt it set a tone that no one was safe and also let the audience know that something was off from the very start. This intensity and sense of paranoia carry on throughout the film as Ethan never truly feels like he can relax. This movie really plays up the thriller angle with Ethan being boxed in by the villain and the IMF who disavowed him blaming him for the death of his team. This tone adds urgency to the film that manages to keep you invested even though the stakes may be lower than in some of the later films.
The best part of this movie is easily the Langley heist as we see Hunt and his team break into the CIA to steal the NOC list. I love a heist film, so I quite enjoyed the planning of the heist and the breakdown of each of the obstacles and barriers they would have to overcome. Seeing how they would pull off each part of the mission and then seeing them actually act out the plan was really cool.
Obviously, we have to talk about the now famous scene where Ethan Hunt drops from the ceiling so that he accesses the computer. This stunt begins a trend with this franchise where Tom Cruise will attempt a more intense and dangerous stunt with every passing film. This tension that this scene builds is so well done and it builds upon what the film already set up to make even a drop of sweat scary.
The gadgets used in the film are pretty cool. The main one that is used continuously throughout the series is the masks that replicate someone’s face and eventually their voice. I like that in this film the gadgets are quite simple like a pen that shoots out a liquid to upset an agent’s stomach or glasses that have a camera in them. I think that they used the gadgets sparingly enough that the characters weren’t reliant on them yet we could see the advantage.
In terms of negatives, I don’t really have many. I thought it could move a bit slow at times, but that is compared to the newer Mission Impossible films. It’s not a boring film. The other one I noticed was that the visual effects were a bit rough at times.
The masks and the CGI used when they take them off looked fine but the entire train sequence was obviously green/blue screen which is funny as nowadays I feel that Tom Cruise would do that for real.
Overall, I thought Mission Impossible was a good movie. You can tell it’s old but, that gives it some charm, especially the old technology. This is probably the one that puts the emphasis on the thriller aspect and the action takes a back seat but it gives it a distinct flavour in comparison to the others. This may not be my favourite of the series but I think it is a good start that only gets improved upon later!