Mission: Impossible ★★★★

Having enjoyed going back to the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies all in one night a few months ago, I decided to likewise revisit all four Mission: Impossible flicks in a single night.

I used to think that my problem with Mission: Impossible was that it tried so hard to be cleverer than the audience that it became convoluted. After a few viewings, I finally got past that perception. It's not really all that complicated a story. It wasn't until tonight that I finally realized what my problem actually is: I never really care about anyone in the movie.

It's hard to feel a sense of loss for Ethan's teammates killed at the beginning of the movie, because they exist purely as sacrificial lambs. Though Ethan is wrongly implicated as the mole and needs to clear his name, the stakes never feel "personal". This is merely a professional mess to be cleaned up, and not even the vague threat of arresting his mother and uncle on trumped-up drug charges change that because we have no connection to those characters. We're left to project that Ethan has the kind of relationship with them that makes him susceptible to their being used as leverage.

That said, Mission: Impossible is a solid thriller. It's interesting to go back and see spy movies from the 90's, when everyone was still trying to figure out what the threat landscape of the post-Cold War world would be. It's curious how so many spy movies of that era focused on internal corruption, of cold warriors who decide to put themselves first after decades of sacrifice for their flags.

I give Brian De Palma a lot of credit for the way he plays the suspense. It would be easy to mishandle and get too cutesy, or to become too self-indulgent and let it go too long, but it's perfect. Even having seen the movie a handful of times in the past, I found myself squirming - especially during that computer vault break-in. (Incidentally: not scoring that sequence was a brilliant choice.)

Mission: Impossible Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#350/1620)

Mission: Impossible > Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away --> #350
Mission: Impossible > The World Is Not Enough --> #350
Mission: Impossible < A History of Violence --> #350
Mission: Impossible < Wild Strawberries --> #350
Mission: Impossible > Happy Gilmore --> #350
Mission: Impossible > Me, Myself & Irene --> #329
Mission: Impossible > Head of State --> #316
Mission: Impossible > Out to Sea --> #309
Mission: Impossible > Presumed Innocent --> #306
Mission: Impossible < Catch Me If You Can --> #306

Mission: Impossible was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #306/1620

Travis liked this review