Ossus Library Index Action Movie Index


Directed by Brian De Palma (1996, Paramount Pictures)
Starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Jean Reno, and Kristin Scott Thomas

An undercover operative hunts for a mole in his organization who set out to frame and kill him.

View Count: Twice



2 stars

November 18th, 2001 on TV

    Enjoyable as a mysterious caper, but I wonder about some of the stupendous leaps of intuition Agent Hunt has to arrive at his goal.

This was quite fun to watch, especially in the scenes where the teams do lots of infiltration. I really liked the way there were no car chases, and no guns firing, as characterized the entirety of the sequel. However, this movie wasn't as intense as the one that followed it.

The infiltration scenes, from setting up the camera-glasses to watch the person who was supposed to be stealing the agent code-name list (the NOC list), to Hunt actually stealing the real NOC list from CIA headquarters, were amazingly done. Even though it is explained that Hunt has so many identities, the time period between all those acts, traveling from Prague to the eastern US to London, seemed inconsistent. Would it require a 24 hour flight for Hunt to get across the world? Does it matter? 

After his team is killed, and Hunt is accused of being a spy, he gathers some other Mission Impossible members who had been kicked out of the agency, and they go to Langley to retrieve the real list, in the hops of flushing out the real spy. Luther was great, as a man who was kicked out for hacking into NATO, but still believes in the ideals of the agency. Franz was just plain mean, and it was easy to see how he would turn traitor. The setup at CIA headquarters was wonderfully done, especially when Claire drops some drug into the CIA man's drink so that he is constantly at the toilet! But I do wonder why nobody investigated the disappearance of the firefighters who entered the building with a guard, and didn't come out again for a long, long while.

In London, Hunt contacts the person who wanted to steal the NOC list, and arranges to have the money transferred for it. In return, he also wants "Job", the person responsible for the death of his team. This is who he is really after. 

He meets up with his boss in London, whom he thought was dead, and figures out that this is the man who calls himself Job. I can't figure out how he made this leap. He found the Bible from the hotel at conference that his boss had attended just before the current mission, and that started his suspicions. Why? And why would the man bring the Bible from that hotel and leave it lying around? He must have been planning this for a while; he must have had another Bible to quote from way before he attended the conference. 

After figuring out who Job was, Hunt still makes the transfer, because he needs to know if the only other survivor, Claire (the boss' wife) is also an accomplice. She panics when she sees the CIA head in the train where the transfer is to be made, and reveals her loyalties as being with her husband. She is killed, and Hunt's boss escapes. He is to be picked up by helicopter by Franz, who was working for him all along. 

In a scene that could have been omitted totally, the Hunt attaches the helicopter to the train, dragging it into the tunnel between England and France, but not destroying it. Hunt even uses an explosion to propel himself away from the helicopter, and survives! 

The ending is also very ambiguous. Hunt tells Luther that the quits the agency, but he wakes up startled on the plane and gets another mission. Did that mean the whole thing was a dream? Or were a few scenes cut that explain his reaction on getting another mission. He is obviously with the agency in the sequel. 

I liked the suspense and mystery angle of this film much better than the chase and shoot attitude the second one took. But there were serious gaps here and there, which cannot be totally explained by having seen it on TV, where some scenes were undoubtedly snipped for time. Motives seemed absent, and there were lulls where nobody was really doing anything, which made some of the movie seem like filler. Still, I hope any sequels will take more after this film than the second one, and create a credible plot with non-shootout suspense. We don't need gunfire every few seconds to make a good movie.

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