Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Essentials- Mission Impossible (1996)

The Essentials- #30

"Mission: Impossible," the film series, is really goofy.

You can definitely tell that each of the four films included in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise had four different directors. Each film feels like its own event, each film has its own voice unconnected to  the rest of the series. The first film, which debuted in 1996, is possibly the most different of them all. 

Even though I have seen the film several times, I couldn't pass a test on "Mission: Impossible." This wasn't the movie one would expect being a fan of the original television show. I've seen the television show too and it was splendidly witty. When Brian De Palma got the rights to make a movie adaptation of the show, he tried something different. In 1996, it made sense, just the year before, the relaunch of the James Bond series was released. De Palma could not just make a Bond clone, he took his film into a different direction, that direction is the most complicated I've seen in awhile. 

The film starred John Voight as Agent Jim Phelps, the classic character from the television show. Many fans of the show couldn't stand the 1996 film because Phelps turns bad. Yep, that's right Phelps double-crosses his team, sets up Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as the fall guy, and makes off with the NAC-list. The NAC- list was file of names of all the undercover agents working in Europe and Phelps planned to make money off of it. The situation falls on Hunt to get the list back and prove his innocence. It also sets Tom Cruise up to be the new face of this film franchise.

Even though Phelp's betrayal came off as a surprise, there are plenty more twists and turns laced into the film. And yes the film is incredibly hard to follow, but that is part of the fun of it all. The film has a style that is undeniable. The film also stars Emilio Estevez, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, and Kristen Scott Thomas. Its got a great cast that all does great work. There are also specific nods to the television show itself that I can't imagine casual fans not liking.

In the end, if you like brain-teasers, I'd hope you'd check out "Mission: Impossible" sooner or later.

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