Other Views Of ‘Mission: Impossible’

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 1996

Here’s what critics around the country are saying about “Mission: Impossible:”

William Arnold/Seattle Post-Intelligencer: It’s still much too early to feel smug about it, but the evidence so far is that this is shaping up to be one doozy of a summer for the Hollywood thrill machine.

We’ve barely had time to catch our breaths from the ravages of “Twister,” when we have yet another eye-filling, nail-biting blockbuster: a visually deluxe and more than credible big-screen recreation of that old TV favorite, “Mission: Impossible.”

Granted, this latest entry in the summer movie sweepstakes may not prove to be as instantly and universally popular as its Midwestern predecessor: its plot is hopelessly convoluted (just like the TV show), and several scenes are so improbable as to be beyond absurdity.

But it’s amazingly true to the old series, it’s an extremely well crafted movie in every filmmaking department, and - if not a total adrenaline rush - it certainly moves like a bullet, and more than delivers the goods in the action-spectacle department.

Jay Boyar/Orlando Sentinel: Mission accomplished?

Not this time, Mr. Phelps.

The mission - which star/ producer Tom Cruise and director Brian De Palma apparently decided to accept - was to cook up a big-screen version of Bruce Geller’s TV classic.

And let’s give Paramount Pictures’ marketing department its due: The pre-release buzz on “Mission: Impossible” has been awesome.

But producing a favorable post-release buzz may be another, tougher matter.

John Anderson/Newsday: Brian De Palma, who used to want to be Alfred Hitchcock, grew up to be Renny Harlin instead - which doesn’t make his “Mission: Impossible” any less than the perfect summer movie.

Or summer romance, for that matter. By emphasizing hardware over heart, he’s shaken/stirred a flirtatious confection out of betrayal, death and Tom Cruise that is the ideal antidote to peaceful contemplation and/or long-term commitment. In fact, it’s virtually devoid of any messy emotional entanglement at all. See you in September.

But if you’re unmoved by “Mission: Impossible,” you’ll still be awed.

Chris Hewitt/St. Paul Pioneer Press: The thrill of a great caper movie is the way it ties your brain in knots, getting more and more complicated until suddenly all the knots are undone.

“Mission: Impossible,” which is elegant and speedy and well-nigh incomprehensible, certainly gets the complicated part right. At the beginning, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) listens to a tape that details the next mission for his elite team of CIA agents. Soon, we’re zipping from Prague to London to CIA headquarters in Virginia, and the plot - something about rogue spies and counterespionage - is so convoluted it’s impossible to keep track of.

My advice? Don’t even try. “Mission: Incomprehensible” isn’t about its plot or its Cheshire catlike characters (the longer you look at them, the less there is to see). It’s a movie about three extended action sequences, and they are spectacular. The finale, in which a helicopter chases a train into a tunnel, culminates in the most subtly astonishing special-effects display I have ever seen.

David Hunter/The Hollywood Reporter: The fuse is burning throughout the big-screen reworking of the cloak-and-dagger TV show “Mission: Impossible,” but, apart from the wham-bam conclusion, there’s a disappointing lack of fireworks in this hotly anticipated film.

Brian De Palma’s dour and only fitfully entertaining techno-thriller teases one with some of the original show’s team espionage spirit, but overall takes itself too seriously.

Philip Wuntch/Dallas Morning News: Elegant and vastly energetic, “Mission: Impossible” proves that implausible missions can be enormous fun. It maintains the mood of the legendary television series while creating its own identity courtesy of high-tech effects.

Star/co-producer Tom Cruise justifies his extraordinary number of close-ups by putting his knowing, cocky smile to good use. Director Brian De Palma stages two magnificent set pieces. … Between these grandly designed sequences, “Mission: Impossible” moves at a steady trot when not galloping. … Where “Mission: Impossible” comes up short is in characterization and plot. Probably only a purist will quibble. After all, part of the fun of the traditional espionage drama is that you can invent backgrounds for the characters.

Bob Strauss/Los Angeles Daily News: “Mission: Impossible” is a tailor-made star vehicle for Tom Cruise who - small wonder - coproduced it. … But after all the star poses, nostalgic references and (mostly futile) efforts to engage us in its convoluted-yet-obvious plot, “Mission’s” only lasting impression is left by Brian De Palma. The director’s fertile visual imagination graces this soulless blockbuster product with wit, suspense and personality, none of which the film could conceivably have claimed without him.

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