Mission Impossible

By Deane Barker

There must be something about intrigue films that just forces producers to try and make them as complicated as possible. Sometimes they resist the urge and wonderful film-making ensues – No Way Out and The Pelican Brief are two recent examples. But every once in a while, a filmmaker decides that more is simply better and manages to fill a movie with enough useless twists and turns to put Mulholland Drive to shame.

Such is the case with Mission Impossible. The plot revels in keeping the viewer unnecessarily confused. Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, a member of the Impossible Mission Force. He’s suspected of being a traitor after a bungled mission in Prague and gets himself disavowed. To redeem himself and find the real traitor, he steals a list of agents and uses it to lure the real mole out of hiding. Sounds good in theory, but there are holes in this plot big enough to drive a bullet train through. Several scenes were so conspicuous in their uselessness that I have yet to figure them out. The film would still be tolerable if it moved quickly, but, sadly, it does not. The action dribbles along at a snail’s pace while the people on the screen figure out amazing things and the people in the theater just go “Huh?”

Hung on this flimsy framework are three extended action sequences, only the last of which – a slam-bang confrontation on a high speed train which was thrilling despite being totally impossible – peaked my interest. The other two were slow and predictable. Mission Impossible puts a lot of faith in high-tech gadgetry and build-up for the big finale, but what worked so well several months ago for Executive Decision simply falls flat here. My enthusiasm self-destructed after about five minutes.


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