Friday, January 15, 2016

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible; action thriller, USA, 1996; D: Brian De Palma, S: Tom Cruise, Emmanuelle Béart, Jon Voight, Henry Czerny, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Emilio Estevez, Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė
Jim Phelps, the head of the Mission Impossible team, is given an assignment by the CIA to arrest Golitsyn - a man who stole one half of the disc containing covert names of secret agents in Eastern Europe - when he tries to sell the disc to his contractor. However, the mission fails and everyone is killed except for agent Ethan Hunt - who thus becomes the main suspect of being the mole. In order to prove his innocence, Ethan contacts Golitsyn's contractor, Max, and feigns that he will get her the main disc. With the help of Claire, Luther and Franz, Ethan manages to enter the CIA headquarters and get the list. When he finds out that Jim is alive, and the he was the mole who killed everyone, Ethan contacts agent Kittridge and enables him to arrest Max in a train, while Jim and Franz in a helicopter crash.

Tom Cruise chose well when his production company decided to place the film adaptation of the famed TV show "Mission: Impossible" into the hands of Brian De Palma, who directed the film with a fresh voice, striking a fine balancing act between an entertaining action thriller for the wide audience and clever, innovative art-film that also pleases the more demanding audience. The basic storyline is complicated, with double - and triple - layers among the espionage world, featuring several plot twists, yet the writing is surprisingly consistent throughout the entire film, even upon multiple viewings, with only minimal flaws or omissions in the last act (the contrived standoff with the main bad guy, just before the last action sequence, for instance). Maybe the characters could have been more versatile and better developed, yet the movie compensates for that by having De Palma direct it with a lot of style: in the opening act, in which the CIA tape destroys itself after playing, a puff of smoke comes out of the machine, while Jon Voight's character lights up a cigar and puffs his smoke into it, whereas the highlight is definitely the almost 20 minute long sequence of breaking into the CIA headquarters, with Cruise's Ethan hanging from the ceiling on a rope, trying not to touch the floor to avoid sounding the alarm, which is virtuoso crafted - and just like in Hitchcock's finest moments, plays out almost without any dialogues.


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