Mission: Impossible

Brian De Palma's eagerly awaited big-screen adaptation of the classic TV series is a gutsy attempt to reconfigure the timeworn espionage formula. Although this presold blockbuster is far from a complete success on De Palma's terms -- it doesn't subvert the genre but gives it a surprisingly gentle goose -- it's nimble, expertly contrived summer entertainment...read more

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Brian De Palma's eagerly awaited big-screen adaptation of the classic TV series is a gutsy attempt to reconfigure the timeworn espionage formula. Although this presold blockbuster is far from a complete success on De Palma's terms -- it doesn't subvert the genre but

gives it a surprisingly gentle goose -- it's nimble, expertly contrived summer entertainment that doesn't insult the intelligence. Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, member of the elite Impossible Mission Force led by grizzled patriarch Jim Phelps (Jon Voight). After most of his team is ruthlessly

sacrificed during what turns out to be a decoy operation, Hunt turns renegade. He assembles his own crack but highly suspect team of fellow "disavowed" agents (Ving Rhames and Jean Reno) and goes after a mysterious arms dealer called Max (Vanessa Redgrave). De Palma and screenwriters David Koepp

and Robert Towne boldly reduce much of what made the series so popular (gadgets, international supervillains, even the conceit of the seemingly impossible mission) down to a bare minimum. The result is a gracefully plotted spy film in the classic mode, with just enough self-consciousness to keep

things interesting.

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