In a way, this movie has two personalities. In a way, it’s a very complicated international espionage thriller about a young agent named Ethan Hunt gets tangled up in a web of treachery and double crossings. Nothing is as it seems, and Hunt never really knows who’s on which side. There are countless scenes of dialogue filled with essential information as well as games of cat-and-mouse using computers. I don’t know if just that would have made this film into a blockbuster! That’s why the film also features three impressive action sequences, and that’s where director Brian De Palma‘s masterful craftsmanship shines the most.
First, there’s an operation at a diplomatic reception that reminds a bit of the opening of “True Lies”, though the bodycount is ten times lower. Then, later in the film is what might be the best scene, an elaborate computer theft that is real suspenseful. And finally, there’s the out-of-this-world finale in which Hunt is on top of a TGV chased by an helicopter. Of course, the inventiveness of this scene is nothing compared to the similar climax of Jackie Chan’s “Operation Condor”, but the FX is still real neat and De Palma’s magic is working. Too bad the film spends more time trying to make us understand its confusing plot than giving us exciting set-ups.
“Mission: Impossible” relies too much on the audience trying to understand who’s the bad guy. I admit that when I first saw the film, I was riveted, but on subsequent viewings, my interest wasn’t as high because I already knew that all those twists didn’t add up to much of an explanation. The first time, you’re too busy figuring things out, but once that’s done, that’s when you notice all the flaws in the script.
The other thing that kinda bothered me was how most of the cast was wasted. I mean, not many films reunite so many talented people, but most of them are stuck in boring characters. There’s the beautiful Kristen Scott-Thomas and the always fun Emilio Estevez which have parts so small that you barely notice them. Even more frustrating is the casting of Ving Rhames as a computer hacker and of Jean Reno as an unmemorable heavy. Also on board is French actress Emmanuelle Béart, but she ain’t more than a pretty face here. The only interesting supporting parts are Jon Voight as Hunt’s boss and Vanessa Redgrave as an information broker. Ultimately, the only guy who does some cool stuff is Tom Cruise as Hunt.