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