22 years ago, Tom Cruise first brought a legendary TV series to the screen in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Watching his 1996 first entry in the film series just after the rousing sixth film, "Mission Impossible: Fallout: in 2018, it gives you a real perspective on Cruise and what he's accomplished.
He's young here, starring as fresh new IMF team leader Ethan Hunt. When much of Hunt's team is killed early in a compromised project, he's forced to go rogue, trust no one and seek the truth.
That could be the recurring theme through all the films, but Director Brian De Palma executes it with such split screen/high polish panache that you feel like part of the mystery.
Jon Voight is Ethan's boss Jim Phelps, Jean Reno (The Professional) is Krieger, part of Ethan's circle as he seeks the truth. It's the first pairing of Ethan with Ving Rhames as Luther, a team member that's been part of the series from start to finish.
Vanessa Redgrave is terrific as arms dealer Max (see Fallout for two-decade-later ripples from her role here) and Henry Czerny (Clear and Present Danger) has one of his best roles as Ethan's boss.
The classic set pieces are just as good as you remember them. The compromised mission in Prague, the sight of Ethan dangling inches above the floor in an impossible to penetrate vault of secrets, the pulled off masks at just the right moment still play very well.
The final 20 minutes show off De Palma's classic style at its best as Ethan, Max and players on both sides of the mission square off inside, above and all over a bullet train in Europe.
Its perfectly staged, with Danny Elfman's take on Lalo Schifrin's classic MI music playing at full blast as a helicopter duels with the train. It took six weeks to film the finale, shot inside the legendary OO7 stage at Pinewood Studios in London.
The screenplay by Robert Towne (Chinatown, The Last Detail) was fairly criticized for being over complicated, but the puzzle plays better today than it did in the nineties.
If you're going to launch a film series, this is the way to do it, unlike nearly every "lets make a movie based on a TV series!" that followed in its wake.
This was the first film to ever be released in 3000+ theatres and did $180 million in sales in nineties dollars, a huge hit.
After 22 years, the original MI still delivers and gets an enjoyable, De Palma stylized A-.
Followed 4 years later by MI:2, with John Woo taking over for DePalma in the director's chair.