Plot – An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the actual spy without the help of his organisation.
Director – Brian De Palma
Released – 1996
Except for a couple of titles, the vast majority of films based on old TV programs tend rely too much on nostalgia and not enough on creating a decent movie, for example, the recent adaptations of The A Team, Charlies Angels and Baywatch, luckily, however, we have one film that not only overcame this negative trend by avoiding the pitfalls others but spawned a series of films that get better with each instalment, Mission Impossible.
For a long time they treated us to two types of spy film, Bond films and ones that want to be Bond films, like Kingsman: The Secret Service and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Mission: Impossible, however, goes its own way, filled with high-tech gadgets, high octane actions sequences and surprise twists yet somehow avoiding the tired old clichés we were used to seeing at this point.
One of the main reason I believe Mission Impossible succeeded where so many other spy thrillers had failed is for the direction by De Palma and the decision to keep the story in reality and the stakes quite personal, with Ethan Hunt (Cruise) feeling closer in tone to Jack Ryan from a Tom Clancy adaptation than James Bond, giving him time to develop without a bomb going off every minute or someone constantly shooting a gun which makes this film feel just as far away from the excellent GoldenEye which came out one year earlier as the other films in its own franchise.
The one real downside to the film is the final sequence that although an exciting idea, with Hunt attempting to chase down the bad guys onboard a high-speed train whilst being followed by a helicopter, the 90s effects just weren’t good enough to give the sequence a level authentically, the helicopter especially didn’t work and feels at odds with the level of realism the rest of the film tried so hard to develop.
Overall, I would say the first instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise holds up over 20 years later. giving Cruise the chance to become one of the biggest action film stars in the world and along with the Bourne franchise, providing viewers a new type of spy film from Bond, James Bond.