Telling you why would spoil what little plot Mission: Impossibleactually has, so I won't. Instead, let me try to shed a little light on what is a messy, uneven production that had so much promise but delivers so little.
Tom Cruise, surprisingly, is not to blame. The only A-list name in the production, Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, the disguise expert in the IMF gang. Something of a rebel in the bunch, Hunt finds himself embroiled in a mission-gone-wrong that should have been a cakewalk. With the whereabouts of his crew unknown (including Emmanuelle Beart, Kristin Scott Thomas, an uncredited Emilio Estevez, and Jon Voight as boss-man Jim Phelps), Hunt finds himself the target of a "molehunt" from IMF bigwig Kittridge (Henry Czerny). Hunt then tries to play cat and mouse to expose the real mole and the bad guys and save his skin in the process.
But not before blowing up a lot of stuff!
And getting to the blowing up of stuff is director Brian De Palma's primary goal here. In the process, he lets the story fall into new realms of ridiculousness and "What the hell is going on?" Syndrome. Respected writers David Koepp (Jurassic Park), Robert Towne (Chinatown), and Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) appear to be running on fumes. After a dozen silly and unlikely plot twists, you really stop caring about the whole thing and just sit back in the hopes of an impromptu explosion. (And there are many fewer of these than the trailer would have you believe.)
Mission: Impossible's success (or lack thereof) hinges on two big scenes: the big break-in scene (in the trailer, where Cruise is hanging from a wire in a computer room), and the big finish (in the trailer, where Cruise is propelled from an exploding helicopter onto a train). While both scenes are good, there's nothing new in them. In fact, the break-in is virtually identical to a similar scene in Sneakers. Yawn.
The free and inaccurate use of high-technobabble makes the production look worse than it is, and Danny Elfman's score is surprisingly flat. While the acting is on-target, never getting too far over-the-top, the movie simply starts with a whimper... and, you guessed it... self-destructs.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 22nd May 1996
Box Office Worldwide: $456.5M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Cruise/Wagner Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Jon Voight as Jim Phelps, Emmanuelle Béart as Claire Phelps, Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge, Jean Reno as Franz Krieger, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, Kristin Scott Thomas as Sarah Davies, Vanessa Redgrave as Max, Dale Dye as Frank Barnes, Marcel Iures as Alexander Golitsyn, Ion Caramitru as Zozimov, Ingeborga Dapkunaite as Hannah Williams, Valentina Yakunina as Drunken Female IMF Agent, Marek Vašut as Drunken Male IMF Agent, Nathan Osgood as Kittridge Technician, Keith Campbell as Fireman (uncredited), Emilio Estevez as Jack Harmen
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