Friday, June 01, 2018

Mission: Impossible

Based on the TV series created by Bruce Geller, Mission: Impossible is the story of a spy who being hunted down by his organization after being accused of killing his crew where he has to find the mole in the agency. Directed by Brian de Palma and screenplay by Robert Towne and David Koepp from a story by Koepp and Steve Zaillian, the film is suspense-thriller in which a spy has to uncover the truth over a failed mission as well as wonder who to trust. Starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Henry Czerny, Emilio Estevez, and Vanessa Redgrave. Mission: Impossible is a thrilling and stylish film from Brian de Palma.

The film revolves around a spy who was part of a mission that suddenly goes wrong when he is accused of being a mole after his crew had been killed forcing him to find out who the mole is as it involves a deal with a mysterious arms dealer. It’s a film with a unique premise that is filled with twists and turns by screenwriters David Koepp and Robert Towne as it explores a man who is seeking out the truth as well as wonder who the mole is. The film does have a MacGuffin in this list of spies and their alias where everyone wants it as the spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) decides to steal it as a way to get the mole to come out as well as clear his name with the help of another agent in Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Beart) whom the IMF doesn’t know is still alive as she takes part to get revenge on the people who killed her husband Jim (Jon Voight) who was also Hunt’s mentor.

Claire was also in the botched mission as a getaway driver as Hunt is suspicious about why she is still alive when everyone else in their team was killed including her husband. At the same time, they deal with this mysterious arms dealer in Max (Vanessa Redgrave) who wants this list for her own advantage in this post-Cold War race to get power. Upon hiring the disavowed hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and the pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) for this mission to retrieve the list, Hunt realizes that there are those he can’t trust including Claire as he is convinced the mole is the IMF leader Kittridge (Henry Czerny) due to this play for power.

Brian de Palma’s direction definitely has a flair for style as it opens with a mission to establish what Hunt and his team does as well as play into a few references of the original TV series. Shot on various locations in Prague, London, and parts of Scotland, the film does play into this world where there is still a sense of unease following the end of the Cold War with some wanting to cash in on whoever will win the next war. The film does show de Palma’s penchant for style in the way he captures so much attention to detail in the key scene to capture a Russian spy from retrieving the list as well as what Hunt and his team are doing and the roles they play. There are also these suspenseful moments where de Palma keeps the intrigue going of who is killing who and who are these people in the background. The usage of close-ups and stylish compositions are key to what de Palma is doing in the suspense that includes a post-mission conversation between Hunt and Kittridge as it is show on low slanted camera angles and in a reverse shot as it play into this air of intrigue. The non-action scenes is where de Palma shines as he uses medium shots to play into the way multiple characters interact as well as a few wide shots to establish the location and its geography.

One key sequence that involves Hunt retrieving the list in a very exclusive and highly secretive room as he’s hanging from a ceiling a key example of de Palma’s approach to suspense as it requires silence as well as not make sure a drop of sweat hits the floor or the alarm will go off. It’s a key sequence late in the second act which play into what is at stake but also what Hunt needs to do to find the mole. The third act is about the unveiling of the mole as well as the mole’s motivations as it play into the aftermath of the Cold War and the ideas of the future. Even as Hunt has to do something to expose the truth for the safety of the world in a grand and thrilling climax set on a train in the English Channel. Overall, de Palma crafts an exhilarating and entertaining film about a spy trying to uncover a mole who killed his team during a botched mission.

Cinematographer Stephen H. Burum does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the look of the cities at night as well as some of the interiors of the rooms and places the characters stay at and the room of the secret computer. Editor Paul Hirsch does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts, stylish montages, dissolves, and other stylish cuts help play into the suspense and action. Production designer Norman Reynolds, with set decorator Peter Howitt plus art directors Fred Hole and Jonathan McKinstry, does amazing work with the look of the places the characters go to including the secret computer room and the interiors of the train for the film’s climax. Costume designers Penny Rose and Timothy Everest do fantastic work with the costumes as it include a few designer dresses for the mission that would be botched as well as clothes for the characters to wear in disguise.

Makeup designer Lois Burwell, along with special makeup effects artist Rob Bottin, does terrific work with the masks that Hunt would wear in disguise including the look of a senator he would pretend to be for the botched mission. Special effects supervisors David Beavis and Ian Wingrove, along with visual effects supervisors Andrew Eio, John Knoll, and Richard Yuricich, do superb work with the visual effects as it relates to the film’s climax as well as some of the design of the masks that Hunt wears. Sound editor Tom Bellfort does nice work with the sound in creating sound effects for the action as well as the air of silence for the computer room scene to play into the suspense. The film’s music by Danny Elfman is incredible for its orchestral-based score as well as creating variations of the famed TV show theme by Lalo Schifrin that include an electronic-based version by Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. of the band U2.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Olegar Fedoro as the Ukranian spy trying to get the list early in the film, Dale Dye as Kittridge’s aide Frank Barnes, Rolf Saxon as the CIA analyst William Donloe who has access to the secret computer room, and Karel Dobry as Max’s assistant Matthias. In the roles of Hunt’s original team, there’s Ingeborga Dapkunaite as surveyor Hannah and Emilio Estevez in an un-credited role as Hunt’s gadgets creator and hacker Jack Harmon as they’re terrific in their roles as is Kristin Scott Thomas in a small yet superb performance as the spy Sarah Davies. Henry Czerny is excellent as Kittridge as the IMF chief who believes that Hunt is the mole as he does whatever he can to catch him while Jean Reno is fantastic as Franz Krieger as a disavowed agent hired by Hunt to help him retrieve the list as he’s also very ambiguous over what he wants to do with the list. Ving Rhames is brilliant as the hacker Luther Stickell who would prove to be one of the few people Hunt can trust as he is also someone who is good at what he does and be humble about it.

Emmanuelle Beart is wonderful as Claire Phelps as Jim’s wife who survived the botch mission as there is a sense of ambiguity to her about her survival as she is also someone that wants revenge while dealing with her feelings for Hunt. Vanessa Redgrave is amazing as Max as this secretive arms dealer that is eager to get the list for her own thirst of power as it’s a charismatic performance from Redgrave. Jon Voight is incredible as Jim Phelps as Hunt’s mentor and Claire’s husband as a top spy who organized the botched mission unaware of what he’s going after as it’s a low-key yet chilling performance from Voight who maintains this sense of ambiguity. Finally, there’s Tom Cruise in a phenomenal performance as Ethan Hunt as a spy who finds himself being accused of being a mole where it’s a performance that has Cruise display charm as well as be full of determination and drive as it is one of his finest performances of his career.

Mission: Impossible is a marvelous film from Brian de Palma that features a top-notch performance from Tom Cruise. Along with its ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, and Danny Elfman’s thrilling score, it’s a blockbuster film that offers a lot of excitement as well as containing some engaging moments of suspense. In the end, Mission: Impossible is a remarkable film from Brian de Palma.

Brian de Palma Films: (Murder a la Mod) – (Greetings) – (The Wedding Party) – (Dionysus in ’69) – (Hi, Mom!) – (Get to Know Your Rabbit) – Sisters - Phantom of the ParadiseObsessionCarrie - The Fury - (Home Movies) – Dressed to Kill - Blow Out - Scarface - Body Double – (Wise Guys) – The Untouchables - Casualties of War - The Bonfire of the Vanities - Raising Cain - Carlito's Way - Snake Eyes - Mission to Mars - Femme FataleThe Black Dahlia - (Redacted) – Passion (2012 film) – (Domino (2018 film))

© thevoid99 2018


Dell said...

To be honest, this one doesn't do it for me. It just felt like it was trying too hard to be smart and came off as unnecessarily complicated. I like the last two movies in this franchise better than the first 3, and that's why I'm looking forward to the new one.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-Actually, this is the only film of the series that I liked. I think it's because it's less flashy and more intricate as it was more in tune with what de Palma does. The next 2 films I felt were boring as I lost interest and I could care less about the rest of the series as I feel like it's Tom Cruise doing the same old shit. The man is middle-aged. Couldn't he just pass the torch to someone else?

Brittani Burnham said...

My husband and I were talking about these films the other day and I realized that I don't think I've actually sat through an entire MI film. I've seen a good portion of this one, and bits of the others, but never a full movie. Whoops.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-For me, this was the only film I can sit through in its entirety and not be bored by it. Plus, this was when Tom Cruise was an actor/movie star instead of just being a movie star as he was tolerable to watch. Rarely, he puts on a good performance like in Edge of Tomorrow while everything else lately has him just doing the same old shit that is just boring.

TheVern said...

I recently re watched this and it still holds up. Such a great movie from Brian DePalma that does show off his style but it never overstays it's welcome. It was a perfect combo of director, writer, studio and lead actor who came together to make this movie. Great review

thevoid99 said...

@TheVern-Exactly. It's still the only film in that franchise I liked. The next 2 weren't that exciting as I blame Cruise more on those 2 films than John Woo and J.J. Abrams. That's why I don't care to see the rest as I just see Cruise as this aging dinosaur trying to prove that he's exciting only to realize that... he's not.

J.D. said...

This is still my fave of the series. With the exception of John Woo's entry, they are all pretty solid movie but I think that last two - ROGUE NATION and FALLOUT - are exceptionally good. For popcorn entertainment, it doesn't get much better. Plus, I love that Cruise still does all his own stunts.

thevoid99 said...

@J.D. Lafrance-It's the only one in the series that I liked so far as I haven't seen the last 3 films nor do I want to. I'm just not a fan of Tom Cruise in recent years.