Mission: Impossible (1996)
Why We Love This Scene: In my latest Cut to the Chase post for Ronin, I had mentioned that the late 90s was a renaissance for action flicks. After re-watching Brian DePalma’s Mission: Impossible recently I have stronger feelings to that theory. After all the over-the-top machismo of the Ahnuld, Stallone, Seagal and Van Damme flicks that the 80s and early 90s gave us, the simple hero and the smart spy were starting to emerge again. Even James Bond had a resurgence after a long absence with Pierce Brosnan’s Goldeneye. Muscles of a hero were slowly fading out of fashion and brains were becoming sexy again. After Mission: Impossible, with Cruise being a man who uses more of his ingenuity than his ability with a gun or his fist, more action heroes like Jason Bourne were being more of the focus. You’re probably thinking that Jack Ryan has been around since the late 80s but that’s your father’s desk-jockey hero. The Jack Ryan movies are on the other end of the action spectrum. Jack Ryan on one end, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt in the middle and Rambo at the other end. (John McLane is more super-hero than a mere mortal man now) By the end of the 90s even James Bond got to the point of being too silly (just watch the surfing scene in Die Another Day) that they re-vamped him with Daniel Craig and have been very successful with that new gritty and down(er)-to-Earth action style. Even most of the super-hero flicks have tried to ground the action and fantasy of the films more. So I really do think the first Mission: Impossible is dead-set in the middle between the old silly action movies and the more gritty, intelligent action flicks.
I was shocked at how great the Mission: Impossible film was. I was, and still am, a huge Cruise fan and was excited about this new DePalma movie but I was a little nervous at this, mainly because it was a TV show adaptation. Sure, some television shows made into features have been successful but they were mostly comedies like The Brady Bunch or The Addams Family. So I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out but it turned out to be one of my favorite action movies of all time. Watching it again brought back good memories of that summer (I was still working at the movie theatre and graduating high school) and I still enjoyed it, despite finding things to nitpick.
Even the vault scene has a ton to nitpick. Like when he catches his sweat with enough room for his hand to grab it despite him being 3 inches off the ground! Why did he bring two discs if he only needed one? What does that fella who mans the vault computer do all day? Did Krieger really kill that rat within a half a second and still have time to grab the rope? But anyway what a great tense scene and without any music and very little sound it’s riveting to say the least. DePalma is a masterful filmmaker and I wish he would get his groove back. But now with the 5th installment of Ethan Hunt’s adventures in theatres today I’m very pleased at how this franchise is continuing with mostly (Piss on M:I:2!!, Piss on John Woo! Piss on Dougray Scott!) great success both commercially and critically.