If they were handing out awards for the most underrated film series, the Mission: Impossible films would have to be up there. Outside of the average second film, every film has been terrific, especially the third and fourth instalments, but I will get to them in a few days. The first MI movie sets things up really well, and also does a complete left turn from the 60s television show that these films are based on. The series focused mostly on Jim Phelps (now played by Jon Voight) and his crew, but in this film, most of those characters from the show are killed off very early. It is an unexpected fate for these characters that any fan of the show would never have seen coming.
The film focuses mostly on Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the only remaining member of Phelps’ team after they are attacked during a mission. The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) organisation believe the attack has to have been an inside job, with Hunt being the main suspect as he is the only ‘still living’ member of the team. Ethan must find the real perpetrators before IMF catches up with him. To draw out his attackers, Hunt agrees to steal a list of IMF agents working in the field and sell it to the highest bidder. Hunt assembles a crew of less than honourable former agents to do the deed and find a way to clear his good name.
I have mentioned this before in past reviews, but I have a lot of time for Tom Cruise. He can practice whatever religion he wants as long as he keeps producing popcorn flicks like this and the also severely underrated Edge of Tomorrow. The guy has a charisma about him that most actors just don’t have. The guy is a proper movie star, and there are not many that can claim to be that. Certainly none that have been doing it for as long as Cruise. He carries this series well and gives 100% throwing himself around in this film wherever possible.
One moment that stands out in this film for me is the scene where Cruise is stealing the list of IMF agents. I remember watching this in theatres and being amazed at how silent the theatre was. Normally during a film there is rustling and other noises like people eating, but not when this scene was playing out. You could literally hear a pin drop during this sequence. The only other time I can remember this happening in theatres was the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds. One thing the Mission: Impossible films do well is create outlandish stunts for Tom Cruise to do. They get bigger and crazier as the series continues, but there is already a very high bar for them to top in this first film.
I am a big fan of the Mission: Impossible films. They are always entertaining, and led remarkably well by one of the few remaining movie stars. This first film introduces us to a world where the impossible becomes possible, and it is one I am looking forward to entering again and again.
Mission: Impossible is a movie I definitely missed the boat on. I never saw it in theaters, didn’t bother seeing it in the years after it’s home release, and if I remember correctly, I fell asleep the first time Ben tried to get me to watch it. As a result I just don’t get it. Why was this such a big deal?
Since I didn’t watch this movie until it was 15+ years old, it feels stale. Throughout our viewing I had to keep reminding myself that nearly all action films made since Mission: Impossible‘s release have probably copied it to some extent. Still, aside from the one scene where Tom Cruise is dangling from the ceiling in a vault-like room there isn’t much that stands out to me as spectacular.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a good movie. It’s entertaining and engaging in all the ways an action flick should be. The plot is more complicated than necessary, but the cast makes this forgivable. Cruise is perfectly cast as Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt. Action movies are his bread and butter, and even I can admit he’s pretty great here. And that one scene of Cruise suspending by wires is one of the most tense sequences in filmdom.
Still, based on this first movie I’m perplexed as to how this franchise spawned four sequels (so far). It’s definitely a concept that lends itself well to multiple installments, so this one would have had to have bombed pretty badly to end here.