Flashback Review: Mission Impossible

In the year 1966, television network CBS aired a TV series called, “Mission Impossible” inspired by spy films from the decade most notably James Bond, as well as the British spy show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The show stars Peter Graves, (Captain Oveur from Airplane!) Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain & Martin Landau as members of a group known as the Impossible Missions Force, (IMF for short) assigned to go on undercover high stakes missions to extract information from bad guys, most notably an organization called, “The Syndicate” to exploit their weaknesses & eventually defeat them to prevent their schemes from coming true.

The show is notable for its recurring motifs such as the iconic opening theme, a selective spy receiving a tape to choose whether or not they’ll accept a mission, after a briefing ends, the tape will self destruct within a few seconds, the team formulate a strategy to pass through difficult obstacles similar to a heist film, and a latex mask that allows the user to impersonate as a henchmen or target.

Mission Impossible received positive reviews from critics, audience viewership was decent, and it went on to win a Golden Globe for “Best Television Drama” and an Emmy for “Best Dramatic Series.” The show developed seven seasons with a grand total of 171 episodes over the course of seven years ranging from 1966-1973. After the show ended, it also inspired other spy programs from various decades including Charlie’s Angels, MacGuyver, 24 & Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Fifteen Years Later, Mission Impossible was revived from ABC with Peter Graves reprising his role as Jim Phelps who leads a new generation of spies to continue going through complicated missions. Unfortunately, it only aired two seasons with a total of 35 episodes ranging from 1988-1990.

A film adaptation of the show was under pre-production by Paramount Pictures who own the rights to the franchise. Before Tom Cruise signed on to star and co-produce, notable A-Listers such as George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis, John Travolta & Mel Gibson were considered to portray Ethan Hunt, but they were all to busy working on other projects. The sole reason why Tom wanted to star in this movie, is because he grew up watching the original show as a kid. His dreams finally came true after he established himself as a high profile A-Lister.

The first installment of the Mission Impossible film series was released in 1996. (30 years after the original show aired) It received positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike as well as making enough cash at the box office.

The first film spawned five sequels which came out in 2000, 2006, 2011, 2015 and the most recent one titled, “Mission Impossible: Fallout.

In response to Tom Cruise’s sixth entry to his signature film series. I’ve decided to see if the first film still holds up. Plus, I’m gonna rewatch the follow ups until the latest entry comes out in July 27, which is four days after my 25th birthday. That’s right folks, I’m gonna turn 25, I’m as old as Jurassic Park & The Sandlot.

Smart & Dumb Moments

Smart: Tom Cruise did an excellent job for his performance as Ethan Hunt. In addition to acting and co-producing, he also did is own stunts, no wonder he got a percentage of box office gross as a Christmas Bonus! He deserves Bonus Points for having the guts to perform dangerous stunts similar to Jackie Chan enduring anything that would’ve killed him on set.

Other Cast Members such Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Emilio Estevez, Vanessa Redgrave & Jon Voight all did a fantastic job for their respective performances. Every time I see Ving in a movie, I expect Sam Jackson to pop any second by saying “What does Marcellus Wallace look like?!”

Fun Fact: Peter Graves was originally gonna reprise his role as Jim Phelps, but turned it down due to a key difference related to the character. I can’t tell you why you’re gonna have to see for yourself. If you’re an old school fan of the TV show, you probably understand why most fans hated this idea.

A Pause Worthy Moment of Ethan’s identification lists he’s born in 1964. In real life, Tom was actually born in 1962, same year Spider-Man made his first appearance in comics.

Action Sequences kept me invested without looking at my phone. The infamous cable drop scene makes you feel like you don’t wanna land on the floor. I’m giving this moment an Extra Point as this scene is considered the crucial highlight to the series.

If you’re expecting atypical James Bond film with full on action, it’s more of a heist film all about planning and executing an effective strategy without trying to get caught.

Brian DePalma did a great job directing the picture. 

David Koepp (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Jurassic Park) wrote the screenplay.

Danny Elfman orchestrate the soundtrack.

In addition to Mr. Elfman’s instrumental pieces, the iconic opening theme is used for The Opening Credits, The Climatic Train Sequence and was also played during The End Credits.

Cinematography has some magnificent shots. Dutch Angles were masterfully used to build suspense.

My favorite line from Ethan is, “RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT!” If you have you a good memory, you will probably understand the context behind the line.

Marketing for the film kept the bad guy’s true identity under wraps.

A Plot Twist was effectively used. I refuse to spill the beans.

Dumb: C.G.I. at the time didn’t age pretty well, especially The Train Scene. Computer Animation was slowly developing like a fetus growing to become a newborn.

Product Placement featuring  brands including JVC, Diet Coke, Visa & American Airlines. I’ll give this con a pass, because I couldn’t find any other brand to spot.

The Final Verdict: A-

Besides Casino Royale that rebooted the James Bond franchise, Mission Impossible is a brilliant spy film that managed to introduce a whole new generation of fans of the series. I have to admit, I never watch the original show, the first time I heard about Mission Impossible, it was the movie that introduced me to Tom Cruise, not Top Gun. Tom’s role as Ethan Hunt is his most iconic role similar to Bruce Willis as John McClane from Die Hard, Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator & Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto from The Fast & The Furious. All the positive things listed still holds up minus the conspicuous Computer Animation that didn’t age pretty well. If you’re a fan of Tom Cruise or the Mission Impossible franchise, I highly recommend this film.

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