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This review is from: Mission: Impossible (Special Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Brian De Palma's MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is nearly summarized by a line from Emmanuelle Beart's character. "Ethan," she says, "you're not making much sense." How right she is. The plot of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is a jumbled mess, thanks in part to director De Palma's bizarre yet artistic style.
What's clear is this: Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, a member of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). The IMF is a top-secret division of the CIA which handles difficult undercover missions. Hunt and his teammates, led by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), are on a routine assignment when things go horribly wrong. Phelps' team is ambushed and the team members are murdered, with the exception of Hunt. But wait, it gets worse: Hunt is framed for the murders and is now being pursued by the IMF's other operatives. It's up to Hunt to prove his innocence and find the real murderer(s), while evading his former agency.
The cast and crew is full of talent. We have director De Palma, who's famous for his thrilling, artistic films, which include CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL, BLOW OUT, SCARFACE, and THE UNTOUCHABLES. De Palma is really the driving force behind the movie. He gives it a dark, shady atmosphere, taking the film to bizarre new levels with his intriguing camera work, which include tilted close-ups and the occasional point-of-view shot. Tom Cruise is great as Ethan Hunt, making us sympathize with this resourceful, clever young man. Henry Czerny gives a good performance as the head of the IMF. Jean Reno is typically good, but he's not given much to work with. Ving Rhames is very likable as computer expert Luther Stickell.
Danny Elfman, always one to write memorable, original scores, delivers another fine soundtrack. He puts Lalo Schifrin's unforgettable theme song to very good use. At times, Elfman's score resembles the music of classic 60's spy shows - one of which was, of course, the original MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. The screenplay, by David Koepp and Robert Towne, bears little (if any) resemblance to the series on which its based. Perhaps because of this, over the years the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film series has come to stand on its own from the TV series. The Koepp/Towne script is very good considering that, at its heart, this film IS an action movie. Their script is based on a story by Koepp and Steven Zaillian (who also wrote such films as SCHINDLER'S LIST, GANGS OF NEW YORK, and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER).
As I've said, the film is a bit muddled. I wasn't quite clear on what was happening until about halfway through the film. This didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the film, however; De Palma's directing and Cruise's acting pulled me through. The film is especially fun during the thrilling ending, which includes some great special effects by ILM (STAR WARS creator George Lucas' effects company).
Though it has little in common with the show on which its based, Brian De Palma's adaptation of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is a fun, well-made thriller that is guaranteed to please action movie fans. I can't, however, make the same guarantee for the casual moviegoer.