Codename Capricorn — Respectful Reel Review #24 — Mission: Impossible (1996)


Mission: Impossible




Secret Agent / Action Thriller


Tom Cruise / Jon Voight / Henry Czerny / Emanuelle Beart / Ving Rhames / Kristin Scott Thomas / Vanessa Redgrave / Jean Reno / Emilio Estevez


Brian De Palma


When Secret Agents Jim Phelps and Ethan Hunt are tasked to prevent the sale of classified material, their team members are killed, with Ethan the sole survivor. His superiors suspect him of being a mole and he is forced to utilize unorthodox methods to attempt to clear his name.


Only the mission matters

Every second counts

One man has one chance to do the impossible.

Expect the Impossible


Jim Phelps and his IMF (Impossible Mission Force), a team made up of individuals specifically chosen for their unique abilities, are sent to Prague to impede the efforts of a rogue agent, Alexander Golitsyn who is attempting to steal a CIA NOC (Non-Official Cover) list — a list of undercover operatives. The mission fails when apparently the entire team is wiped out except for Ethan Hunt.

Clearly, in such a scenario, the last surviving member of the team is viewed with suspicion. Therefore, when Ethan Hunt is called to be debriefed by IMF Director Kittredge, Hunt realizes that there was another IMF team present on the mission, and present at the debrief because he is suspected of being the mole. There is an iconic scene with explosive gum and an aquarium that follows.

When Hunt escapes, he returns to the safe house recognizing that he will have no agency assistance in clearing his name. Afterall, the mission was designed as a mole-hunt and the agency believes they have found their mole. The NOC list was essentially a fake, so Hunt resolves to acquire the real NOC list and offer it to an arms dealer in exchange for the identity of the mole.

While Ethan begins to formulate his complex plan, Claire Phelps reaches the safe house. She avoided the car bombing by leaving the car immediately when Jim Phelps, her husband, called an abort to the mission. Hunt does not immediately believe her, but when she gets emotional about their collective loss, she gets Ethan to believe her.

Upon meeting with the arms dealer, Ethan informs her that she has a fake list and that it in fact contains a tracking chip that once activated will summon the authorities. Max, the arms dealer, chooses to believe him and set a screen to validate the veracity of Ethan’s information. When the chip is activated, and the IMF authorities raid Max’s former hideout, she sees that Ethan can be trusted.

There is more, but I like to leave the plot somewhere in the middle for followers of the blog to discover some of the latter story beats for themselves.


Let me state a few things up front that are meant as true talk and full disclosure caveats, so you as a reader can understand where I am coming from, what biases I have regarding this movie, why I feel the way I do. This is not a great movie, but I like this movie.

If it would be an action espionage movie on its own, unattached to a former TV show, I would probably like this movie better. As a Tom Cruise movie, its good. As a Brian De Palma directed movie, it ranks as one of his best. However, I used to watch the TV show and Mr. Phelps was one of my favorite characters.

In an effort to entice you to watch this movie, I will refrain from speaking further except to say that the creators of this movie attempted to capitalize on the best bits of the franchise. I applaud the endeavor. However, it is completely disrespectful to the TV show, to the fans of the show, to the creators of the show, to attempt to capitalize on all the good of Mission Impossible and eviscerate its heart. It feels seedy, and it was unnecessary.

The action was almost nonstop except for important moments of exposition. The cinematography was the best in a De Palma film. If it was not for the fact that this is a Mission: Impossible film, it would most assuredly be in the Four Grey Geek range, but it makes me mad that creators want to have the freedom to create by building their stories on the backs of others’ creations without tying themselves to the essence of those creations. This is wholly inappropriate.

I believe I have been consistent throughout this blog. If a creator wants the benefit of adding Sherlock Holmes to his/her story, s/he better add Sherlock Holmes to the story. Sherlock Holmes, not a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, not a Sherlock Holmes-lite or a female Sherlock Holmes. You want to know what all those things I mentioned are? They are NOT-Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, do NOT use Sherlock Holmes.

OK, so that ends my rant. This is a good movie that has the benefit of being fun in a Tom Cruise kind of way. Watch it. Most people will like this movie. Its only us old fuddy-duddies that like to keep our cows sacred, but I hope you get my point.

It’s getting kind of late, and I really have to take my medicine. If you see those kids running around in front of my house, tell them to get off my lawn, or I will sic my three demon dogs on them: Satan, Hellstorm, and Charybdis. Good night all you beautiful people. Peace!

As far as secret agent movies go, this one is pretty good, but Mission: Impossible 2 is better. Still 3 and a half Grey Geeks out of 5 is not too shabby for something that reboots a franchise.

4 thoughts on “Codename Capricorn — Respectful Reel Review #24 — Mission: Impossible (1996)

  1. In some ways I feel the you do in regards to some of the characters. The movie version is not an accurate depiction of the original tv characters. And much like a lot of Cruises films they are by no means amazing films. But they are good movies. And as much I don’t like Tom Cruise as a person for various reasons and some of his beliefs I can’t help myself but liking a lot of his movies.

    Liked by 1 person

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