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From Everything.Sucks

Mission Impossible Sucks. Mission: Impossible is a multimedia franchise based on fictional secret espionage agency known as Impossible Missions Force (IMF). The 1966 TV series ran for 7 seasons and was revived in 1988 for two seasons. It inspired a series of theatrical motion pictures starring Tom Cruise beginning in 1996.

Back in May 1996 Hal Hinson wrote a review for THE WASHINGTON POST about 'Mission Impossible and described it as: Humorless, charmless and flat.

"Mission: Impossible," Brian De Palma's big-screen adaptation of the popular '60s television series, is a stone drag-humorless, charmless and flat. The impossible part is that the filmmakers have botched such a seemingly unbotchable premise. From the beginning, the action appears dated, as if the filmmakers were still locked in a Cold War mind-set. Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), head of the Impossible Missions Force, receives instructions via the famous self-destructing tape about the group's latest assignment-namely, to document the theft of the CIA's master list of spies in Eastern Europe. Instead of using this initial action to demonstrate the dynamics within the team-to show us how slick and cool under fire they are-De Palma and screenwriters David Koepp and Robert Towne have the mission blow up in the team's face. A mole has broken into the group's inner circle; the mission was an attempt to flush him out. But instead of exposing the real culprit, it throws suspicion on team member Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise in Martin Landau's old part), who is forced to go underground to prove his innocence. On television, "Mission: Impossible" was primarily a spy show. In updating it, though, the producers have emphasized the action-adventure aspects. As a result, Cruise is forced to play a role that might have been better filled by Schwarzenegger or Stallone. In the scenes where Cruise isn't required to perform super-heroic stunts, the filmmakers attempt to tell us who this guy is, but all his more personal traits appear to have been recycled from his character in "Top Gun." Ethan is a cocky wise guy with all the confidence in the world, and-at least from the audience's point of view-nothing to back it up with. The star has never seemed more lightweight than he does when he confronts his secret nemesis, played by Vanessa Redgrave with a voice so effortlessly rich and deep that Cruise sounds like a Viennese choirboy by comparison. De Palma seems to have lent only his technical genius to the project. The movie looks amazing. The way he breaks down the action and hooks his shots together is conceptually and graphically brilliant, but you admire it almost in the abstract. It's ravishing, but what does his style have to do with anything? What does it express-except itself? The result is that style and substance-what little there is-never meet. After Ethan is disavowed by his bosses, he hatches a plan to break into CIA headquarters at Langley. As impossibly daring as this plan is, we never get much sense of who the enemy is or what is at stake. To help accomplish his mission, Ethan assembles a new crew, played by Jean Reno and Ving Rhames. Like Greg Morris on the series, Rhames is the electronics wizard-in this case, the super-hacker-and Reno plays the strongman (the Peter Lupus role from TV). But the characters remain distant. Same goes for the French star Emmanuelle Beart, who lends a seductive, continental flavor to her updating of the Barbara Bain character, but in general leaves her only partly realized as well. De Palma can't seem to give the film any narrative rhythm or momentum, either. After Ethan's first escape, we expect him to keep running. He is, after all, on the lam. But instead of hiding out, he runs straight back to headquarters, gets on-line and starts sending e-mail. Why is it that so many filmmakers think we're fascinated by watching our heroes play with their computers? In movie after movie, the moment of truth comes when the hero has to download information onto a disk. Because of De Palma's dazzling technique, the movie isn't dull; it is, however, very hard to follow. Also, the adapters have failed to come up with variations on old riffs from the original that might have brought them vividly up-to-date. Ethan, like the character in the series, likes to wear disguises and change identities. But in an era when morphing is the latest in special effects, ripping off a mask is old hat and hopelessly anticlimactic. There are empty thrills, and some suspense. But throughout the film, we keep waiting for some trace of personality, some color in the dialogue, some hipness in the staging or in the characters' attitudes. And it's not there. De Palma, Cruise and company can't even deliver on the simple pleasures of the original. This is the opposite of mission accomplished.


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