Mission: Impossible (1996)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Aged, but classic.

My how you’ve aged, Mission: Impossible. I know it’s been a while since I’ve actually seen the first film in the franchise, but there is a huge difference between the first and second, even though the gap was only four short years. This movie feels more classic and in tune with how a spy movie should look and feel – sort of like a few 007 movies out there…only more grounded and down to earth. Even though it is very different than the others…it’s somehow a very welcome different. This is where it all started…at least the movie versions – and it probably has something to do with the start of Tom Cruise’s history as an action star – so let’s get to it.

The first film in the franchise is about Ethan Hunt, an agent of the IMF that isn’t quite leader status yet. No, he’s just a member on a team about to embark on an impossible mission of sorts. You see, there is a hidden file in the CIA’s database that lists off agent’s secret identities, which would be a massive threat if unleashed – and someone has their hands on it. Ethan and the rest of the team must get that person behind bars, which proves impossible when the entire team, other than Ethan, is killed off and Ethan is labeled a mole. He must work against the IMF to discover who the true mole is and end this charade once and for all!

Here’s a spy movie for you. It’s got all of the essential spy requirements and then some…but it has aged quite a bit. There’s no missing the age of the movie, guys. As soon as it starts, Tom Cruise looks young (which is surprising), the entire look and feel seems more like a film set in the ‘80s than anything else. They had computers, but the graphics were silly and the models of the actual things were a joke. It tried to be really fancy with those video watches and that bullet-train sequence, but for the most part…it felt a lot different than any of the other films in the franchise.

One of the main differences of this particular film is the amazing lack of action. This is more like a slower-paced spy mystery. There is action, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part, it was far more focused on figuring out the impossible mystery…something closer to Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. That means more smart writing and a concept you can’t ignore. It’s a good movie. As a kid, I never could understand anything that was happening in the movie, so it was always my least favorite. As an adult, I can fully appreciate the story. At the same time, I’m torn because I do want action in the Mission: Impossible movies.

I still believe the fourth movie is the best in the franchise, but I have yet to see the most recent, fifth installment of the series. The reason why I like the fourth is because – as an all-around balanced spy flick, it had absolutely everything you could ever want. While I don’t really see the first movie so much as a Mission: Impossible movie, I do see it as an amazing and absolutely well-written spy movie in general.

The Good:

The entire series is amazing, and out of the entire thing, I really do believe you need to see every last one, even though they’re basically standalone – simply because every single one has some truly amazing sequences and stories. The first one, in particular, is the best written movie. It takes its sweet time engaging the audience.

The Bad:

The movie has just aged so much. Especially looking at the difference four years brings between the first and second film, my god. Aging is a huge factor for spy movies, because they need to have the coolest gear – and if they have gear that looks like it does in this movie, well…it’s not really that impressive now, is it?

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