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Mission: Impossible

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Mission: Impossible

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight
Director: Brian De Palma
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Dale Dye, Marcel Iures

Review by Andrew Hicks
2 stars out of 4

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spend nearly two hours of your life on the umpteenth TV-show remake of the past few years, featuring over-the-top dramatic acting, an intrusive musical score, a slow and incoherent plot, generic espionage retreads and few-and-far-between action sequences that pale in comparison with more recent, better movies. I accepted the mission but found it impossible to enjoy.

Tom Cruise makes his foray into action films in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, a foray he shouldn't have made. He plays Ethan Hunt, a spy for IMF (Impossible Missions Force, not I'm an MF), who is disavowed from the organization toward the beginning of the film, after his team of agents (including Emilio Estevez) is killed in action. You'll soon wish Cruise went down with his ship, though, because what follows the opening action sequences is over half-an-hour of bad drama, most of which involves Cruise coming across French spy Claire, played by Emmanuelle Beart. She may be famous in France but not America. And MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE won't be the crossover vehicle to do it because, even though she's stunningly beautiful, she can't act to save her anorexic life.

Cruise adds her to his new team, which also includes Marsellus Wallace and The Professional (Ving Rhames and Jean Reno), for his independent mission of rescuing a computerized list containing the names of all the major secret agents of the world. (I'll trade you a James Bond rookie card for two Hunts and a Professional.) There's more to the plot, of course, but to tell you the truth, I didn't know what the hell was going on half the time. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is apparently too plot-driven to stop and explain the plot. And no, I won't stop to explain that last sentence.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is a failure as far as action films go. The most successful ones in the past few years (the DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON trilogies, for starters) have had a sense of humor about the fact that the stunts are so far-fetched, but MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE begs to be taken seriously. There is no comic relief to the film at all except scenes that play in an inadvertently funny way because they're so serious.

Emmanuelle can't act and Cruise shouts most of his lines ("THEY'RE ALL DEAD!") while Danny Elfman's thundering score brings back memories of the worst melodramas of the 40's and 50's, movies in which the orchestras almost drowned out the dialogue. So I guess it's a good thing Cruise yells all the time. And Elfman, I love you man, your music is great, but it's best left with grandiose, Gothic films like BATMAN and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. To Elfman's credit, though, without his score, the only thing left would be the eight reprises of the overplayed "Mission: Impossible" theme. Might as well have thrown Mancini's "Peter Gunn" theme in there too. I don't think I've heard that enough million times in movies.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that we've seen all this before. The only two action scenes (out of five) of any interest are ones that seem like they were outtakes from other movies. The scene in which Cruise and Reno break into an office using state-of-the-art technology was exciting, yes, but it might as well have been Robert Redford and the whole SNEAKERS crew. And the overly far-fetched climax on a train might as well have come from a James Bond movie... or any of the others from Indiana Jones to UNDER SEIGE 2 to feature people climbing on moving trains. If you're remaking a TV show, you've already got one foot in the originality grave, but when you steal action sequences too, your movie ends up six feet under.

This movie review will self-destruct in five seconds.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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